CEO Middle East
One of the world’s largest multinational consumer goods companies, P&G is spearheading a sustainability drive. Omar Channawi, President of Procter & Gamble Middle East, East and West Africa, tells CEO how
MANY COMPANIES ARE BECOMING MORE CONCERNED WITH HOW TO BE A FORCE FOR GOOD IN THE SOCIETIES IN WHICH THEY OPERATE. FROM MINIMIZING THEIR FOOTPRINT TO SOCIAL CAMPAIGNS, CSR IS NO LONGER JUST AN OPTIONAL ADD-ON FOR CONSCIENTIOUS AND CONSCIENCE-DRIVEN LEADERS. LEADING FMCG COMPANY P&G IS A TRAILBLAZER IN THIS REGARD. OMAR CHANNAWI, PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER IN THE REGION, SHARES AN INSIDER INSIGHT INTO MAKING SUSTAINABLE DECISIONS THAT WILL IMPACT THE BUSINESS AND THE PLANET FOR THE LONG TERM
P&G is deliberate about stepping up as a force for good. The company is determined to make a difference through comprehensive interventions across climate, water and waste. We do this across four vectors – brands, supply chain, society and through our employees. P&G has set specific goals for each of these areas that they believe will help enable and inspire positive impact.
Its global reach, understanding of the 5 billion consumers it serves and its innovation capabilities give it a unique ability to make a positive difference across UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Consumers want more than just great performing products. They want to know that the products they purchase come from a responsible company. P&G has been leading in environmental sustainability for decades and has met many of its 2020 goals ahead of schedule.
The company recently announced a major global initiative, P&G #ForestsForGood, which has launched first in the UAE, partnering with Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG), a key local partner. P&G is aligning with Dubai 2040 announcement for more green space and will be making a contribution towards this within 2021 with the P&G Dubai Mangrove Forest.
Using blockchain technology to ensure traceability, the aim of the programme is to offer full transparency with tree-planting projects, allowing each individual to view their trees that have been planted through the EcoMatcher website in line with P&G’s mission to ensure sustainable growth and accountability. Other #ForestForGood initiatives will be rolling out in the following months of 2021 around the Asia, Middle East and Africa region too, something we are really excited about.
What are some of the targets that P&G is working towards?
Ambition 2030 sets new goals and new practices that will not only reduce our footprints and preserve resources, but will more importantly, help restore the world.
When P&G sets a goal, we also put the steps in place to achieve it. An example of this is our 2020 goals, many of which we’ve met ahead of schedule, especially across the Middle East.
• ENERGY EFFICIENCY: met our energy goal four years ahead of schedule.
• WATER SUSTAINABILITY: We achieved our water reduction goal of 20 percent four years early (now at 27 percent).
• WASTE REDUCTION: 100 percent of our manufacturing sites are zero manufacturing waste to landfill. This means that the only thing that leaves our manufacturing sites is finished product.
By 2030, we are committed to make a difference on all our environmental footprint actions – and not only the visible ones. P&G’s Ambition 2030 goals include:
• BRANDS: Inspire responsible consumption through packaging that is 100 percent recyclable or reusable, launching more sustainable innovations, and building trust through transparency and sharing our safety science.
• SUPPLY CHAIN: P&G manufacturing sites will cut greenhouse gas emissions in half and will purchase enough renewable electricity to power 100 percent of our plants. The company will also source at least 5 billion litres of water from circular sources.
• SOCIETY: P&G will continue to create transformative partnerships that enable people, the planet and our business
“EACH CRISIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US TO BE A FORCE FOR GOOD”
to thrive, including those that stem the flow of plastic into the world’s ocean, protect and enhance forests, expand recycling solutions for absorbent hygiene products, and protect water in priority basins around the world.
• EMPLOYEES: P&G will engage, equip and reward employees for building sustainability thinking and practices into their everyday work.
What is key for a corporate entity to consider when planning a cohesive, compelling and effective sustainability drive?
We recognise that our sustainability impact must be comprehensive and partnership with experts is key. Providing access to basic human needs to everyone and safeguarding the environment for future generations is the top priority for governments, industry, NGOs, and consumers. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are critical to achieving our United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs).
P&G’s strength lies in our global reach, our understanding of the 5 billion consumers we serve, and our innovation capabilities give us a unique ability to make a positive difference. We track and measure all we do and set higher standards for our supply chain, through packaging recyclability amongst other areas for example, and we put measurable plans in place to achieve those standards.
For a company like us – innovation is the lifeblood of our success. This singleminded focus gets results. For instance, in just a year, we’ve prevented over 63,070 metric tonnes of waste – the weight of six Eiffel towers – from ending up in landfills. Instead, this waste was recovered and reused for energy or recycled.
Since 2016, we have been working with supply chain partners to reduce their impact on the environment and therefore decrease our products’ overall footprint. To date, this initiative has saved the equivalent of the energy consumption of heating 1 million homes for one year.
Why is CSR such a non-negotiable part of a business’s overall plan in 2021 and what must an effective one include?
The next decade represents a critical window to significantly decrease the carbon emitted into the atmosphere and ensure a healthy planet for present and future generations. We are focussed on integrating sustainability as a key strategy into our business plans, which in turn are tied to executive compensation.
We’ve established ambitious goals to minimise our environmental footprint, to innovate with the best and safest ingredients from both science and nature and to create products that make responsible consumption irresistible for people everywhere. In July
2020, P&G announced a new environmental commitment: to be carbon neutral this decade. This means achieving a balance between emitting and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, so that the net amount is zero.
Working closely with Conservation International, World Wildlife Fund and other leading climate experts, P&G will fund a range of projects designed to protect, improve and restore forests, wetlands, grasslands and peatlands, that increase carbon storage or avoid greenhouse gas emissions while supporting local communities and economic recovery.
How can leaders engage their staff to be proactive members of a drive to ensure it is carried out?
We must keep our people engaged and equipped. There are three effective ways to achieve that:
1 . Integrate sustainability as a key strategy in business plans
2. Educate and raise awareness of our employees across all levels
3. Reward progress and integrate recognition in employee performance assessments
We have developed a detailed plan across all levels and organisations to engage P&G employees in how they can embed social and environmental sustainability in the work they do. We will also implement a system to recognise those employees who have made significant contributions to advancing progress vs. our goals. Sustainability is now part of all business plan reviews and our leaders are now incorporating this into their business strategies.
We have created an online training about our environmental efforts and what employees can do. Importantly with Earth Day around the corner, all employees in Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa will be commemorating AMA Sustainability Month where there will be a summit with expert speakers, awards to recognise employee and business contributions to protecting our planet.
Our organisation has made tremendous progress against our goals and that’s driven largely by the passion and ingenuity of our employees.
Between industries, the CSR contribution will of course differ, what is key for P&G in its sustainability drive and how might this be relevant to CEOs looking at implementing similar in their industries?
Creating sustainable impact leads to long term impact and growth of communities and business. Short term aid or contribution is not sustainable. We are in it for the long haul. At P&G, each crisis is an opportunity for us to be a force for good and a force for growth. We have a strong and increasingly diverse partner ecosystem that we encourage to follow a similar path to our own as we lead by example and collaborate on initiatives together.
Sustainability should be everyone’s job and hardwired into every employees workplan. This year, we have made a commitment to 2,021 acts of good for 2021. These acts of good represent the next chapter of P&G’s Lead with Love consumer campaign, which includes a call to action to make 2021 the year we all come together to do more and do better – for communities, equality and our planet.
“OUR ORGANISATION HAS MADE TREMENDOUS PROGRESS AGAINST OUR GOALS AND THAT’S DRIVEN LARGELY BY THE PASSION OF OUR EMPLOYEES”