CEO Middle East

DRIVING SUSTAINABI­LITY

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

- By JOLA CHUDY

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”

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