his month’s Danone annual general meeting will ratify substantial self-imposed pay cuts for the food giant’s CEO and Chairman Emmanuel Faber, as well as all members of its board.
In “a spirit of solidarity” Mr Emmanuel has proposed a cut in remuneration by 30% for himself. Each member of the Board of Directors will forgo payment for the second half of 2020, and these savings will be directed into expanding employee health cover.
At the AGM on June 26th, the board will also recommend Danone become the first listed company to adopt France’s new Entreprise à Mission. The company’s largest subsidiary, Danone North America, is already the world’s largest Public Benefit Corporation.
Introduced in France in 2019, “entreprise à mission” companies align purpose and objectives to social, societal and environmental wellbeing.
Mr Faber said, “The ordinary course of business will change forever. This is an extraordinary moment. It could not be timelier and more meaningful, as employees, consumers, customers, partners, governments and shareholders now see the critical importance of a balanced multi-stakeholder approach to value creation and sharing.”
Mr Faber thanked shareholders and confirmed their dividend of €2.10 per share would be paid. He said, “We would not have been able to do this without the support of our shareholders, the people whose savings were invested in Danone… Their interests need to be recognised. This is why our Board made the decision to maintain the initial recommendation for the 2019 dividend.”
Measures included securing employment contracts and guaranteeing wages
Mr Faber said that in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, Danone’s people had been its first priority, adding “We moved quickly to ensure their safety and took unprecedented measures to protect their incomes.”
The measures included securing employment contracts and guaranteeing wages for all Danone employees worldwide until June 30. Extensive health and childcare coverage was provided for all employees worldwide. And bonuses were paid to all employees working onsite during the pandemic lockdowns.
Financial support worth around €300 million was made available. This included €250 for extended payment terms and credit to farmers, suppliers and smaller customers, a US$10 million relief fund for entrepreneurs in the Danone Manifesto Ventures’ portfolio, and €20 million extra funds to support partners in Danone’s business ecosystems with employment, skills and employability and micro-entrepreneurship. Around €6m of funds and 32 million of products have been donated since the beginning of the crisis. And the company ensured it paid social charges and taxes on time during this period so authorities could help companies needing it most.
Becoming an Entreprise à Mission follows Danone’s mission decision in 2005 to “bring health through food to as many people as possible”. The company’s objectives are designed to support United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.