Danone may have to junk its plan to be 100 percent B Corp compliant by 2023 following the $26B French dairy, specialized nutritional products and water marketer's decision to keep its Russian operations up and running.
B Corp status recognizes companies that have adopted the highest social and environmental standards and use their business to be a force of good.
It’s hard to fathom that participating in the Russian economy at a time when its military is invading Ukraine, leveling its cities, and bombing fleeing civilians makes the B Corp grade.
The somewhat delusional Danone CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique doesn’t foresee any reputational damage from operating in Russia.
“It is very easy to get drawn into black-and-white thinking and demagogic positions, but in the end our reputation is about our behavior,” he told the Financial Times on March 8.
Actually, Antoine, Russia’s strategy of committing war crimes in Ukraine is neither black-and-white thinking nor a demagogic position. And it certainly is not in keeping with the spirit of being a B Corp.
Danone has about 8,000 workers in Russia and a dozen production plants. They account for about six percent of overall 2021 sales. (The company's US arm, Dannon Yogurt, featured TV ads during the 1980s showing Soviet Georgians, who lived to be 100, eating its yogurt.)
The company claims that 62 percent of its 2021 sales received B Corp certification, up from 50 percent from the year earlier period.
Danone’s dithering about exiting Russia makes a mockery of its ESG boasts and goals.
De Saint-Affrique has only been at the helm since September. He needs some good PR counsel.
Cozying up with Russia is not the best strategy for a company that has put so much emphasis on being a good corporate citizen.
Danone’s corporate hypocrisy is breathtaking.
The Orthodox Public Affairs Committee, which launched in 2020 to expose and combat the alleged persecution of Christians throughout the world, is in a tough spot as members of the Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox branches are killing each other in Ukraine.
Days before Russia's all-out invasion of the country, OPAC condemned actions by the Russian government in the eastern portion of Ukraine and urged calm and the protection of the holy cathedrals, historic monasteries and churches throughout Ukraine.
It noted that Ukrainians and Russians "are brothers and sisters in Christ, and no government should put them against each other in a state of war." OPAC also "mourns the deaths of the already 14,000 perished in eastern Ukraine" and "stands with the Ukrainian people and their national sovereignty."
On March 2, OPAC stepped up to the plate, decrying the Russian slaughter in Ukraine and calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all of its forces.
It noted that the peoples of Ukraine and Russia are of the same family. "Do the mothers and grandmothers of Russia truly desire their sons and daughters to spill the blood of their spiritual brothers and sisters. This is war without cause and the imperialistic aspirations of one man can never justify this destructive fratricide."
Calling for the soldiers of Ukraine and Russia to lay down their arms, OPAC said: "The Ukrainian people have suffered at the hands of tsarist autocrats, soviet commissars and dictatorial kleptocrats for long enough."
OPAC's plea has fallen on the deaf ears of Vladimir Putin, who poses as a champion of the Russian Orthodox Church. He's not going to receive a warm welcome at the pearly gates.
Happy Early Saint Patrick’s Day… Quinnipiac University has reversed course and will not shutter Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum that is on its Hamden campus, but instead will relocate its contents intact to the Fairfield-based Gaelic-American Club.
The Great Hunger occurred from 1845 to 1852 and led to the starvation deaths of 1M Irish people and the emigration of another 2.1M, which reduced the population of the island by about 25 percent. Ireland is the only western European nation that has a smaller population today then it did in the mid-19th Century.
The Great Hunger was caused by the failure of the potato crop and repressive policies of the British government that favored the absentee English landlords in Ireland.
Quinnipiac’s initial decision to shut down the Museum drew the wrath of the Irish-American community who feared that pieces of the collection would be sold to private investors and be scattered to the four winds.
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal made that point during a November protest at the Museum:
“I’m here to say we need to keep this museum, we need to keep this collection intact… here in Connecticut… it should not be dispersed, divided, split up. That’s what happened to the Irish people as a result of the Great Famine. This is a moral imperative… put aside the legal inquiry that is ongoing. There is a moral obligation here to the people who worked hard for this museum, who sacrificed to make it possible.”
The 75-year-old GAC, which has more than 6,000 members, is one of the largest Irish-American organizations in New England. Its Fairfield location is only about 30 minutes from the Museum’s current location.
The University received multiple proposals for the Museum and selected the GAC’s pitch because of its established infrastructure, cultural and financial resources and location.
“The goals of keeping the Museum collection together in Connecticut and cared for by the Irish-American community were paramount in our decision-making,” said Arthur Rice, chairman of Quinnipiac’s board of trustees.
Good move, Quinnipiac.