Safer food through public commitment

EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

The fifth pillar of leadership: public commitment

When a company leads on public commitment, it communicates its safer food additive’s journey publicly and honestly. Effective public commitment goes beyond a one-time publication of goals; it is the frequent, transparent, and public-facing communication about a company’s efforts to meet those goals. Why? Because results matter.

Effective communication of a company’s policy, timelines and progress towards goals can garner valuable support from the general public. Telling the story about one’s journey – and the pitfalls along the way – can be just as powerful as sharing success stories. Going public will reinforce internal alignment on the goals and spur the innovation of safer food additives needed to create higher quality products. Going public can also lead to useful partnerships or engagements with other organizations, which in turn can provide companies with additional expertise, best practices, and recognition.

How does a company become a leader on public commitment?

  • Publish its corporate safer food policy

Publication is a signal that a company is serious about its mission to lead on safer food additives and products. Making its policy public tells consumers, suppliers, and investors that a company has a goal-oriented strategy in place, thoughtful timelines, and is making an institutional commitment to reach success.

  • Share progress

A company needs to communicate honestly, highlighting the good news, but also being upfront about the things that didn’t quite work. The public is as interested in success stories as it is stories about the journey. Hearing about the pitfalls or mistakes that may have occurred along the way adds credibility to the successes. This is particularly relevant when it comes to millennial shoppers who have shown their cynicism towards perfectly polished brands.

  • Communicate the process

A company sets itself up for harsh criticism from customers if it shares broad platitudes about its strategy instead of more descriptive, concrete information. The public wants to know how companies plan on achieving their commitments. When a company commits to safer product design, which products will it focus on first and why? How will safer food additives be identified? What will suppliers be asked to do to help a company improve its products? Who are the partners that will provide useful guidance and insights along the way? Responses to these types of questions signal intent to follow through on commitments.

EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center
EDF Supply Chain Solutions Center

Good things happen when a company embraces public comment

  • Increased consumer confidence

Consistent communication about a company’s policies and progress against its goals builds consumer trust and confidence. Openness can also increase consumer engagement, providing more insights into consumer behavior and desires. This kind of feedback can improve the effectiveness of communications. Social media provides powerful tools for this type of two-way communication.

  • Emergence of new allies

When a company communicates openly and frequently about its safer food efforts, new allies emerge that can support and expand its success. Potential allies include media outlets that applaud a company’s progress, expert organizations who can become useful partners in accelerating a company’s success, or fellow companies who have similar goals that can be met faster by working together.

  • Supplier buy-in

Suppliers realize their customer is serious about transformation and see an opportunity to support the initiative. This can spur competition to provide safer food additives or manufacturing processes – a race towards continuous improvement.

  • Improved internal alignment

Public communication solidifies internal commitment throughout the business, providing the unity necessary for successful implementation and progress against goals. It also provides another avenue for enhancing employee engagement. Executing on and being recognized for a commitment to bringing safer food to the marketplace can boost morale and translate into increased employee recruitment and retention.

Overcoming hurdles on the path to public commitments leadership

  • Criticism

When a company goes public with its strategies and progress, feedback may come in the form of accolades, criticism, or new demands based on the progress made. Rather than becoming defensive against criticism, a company should make use of it as positive feedback. Any external feedback is a powerful vehicle by which a company can discover new information or engage new allies to revise its strategy and continue to progress forward.

  • Greenwashing

When touting successes through new marketing claims and logos, a company must also beware of greenwashing. In the legal context, a company must comply with the regulatory agency’s labeling requirements and ensure its claims conform to fair trade practices.

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