“It’s pretty weird that if you simply do the things that all companies should always do, you’re rewarded with a certification”
A MaCher team favourite, Tony’s Chocolonely was founded 15 years ago by a few Dutch journalists who reported on malpractices in the cocoa industry. Tony’s goal is to make ALL chocolate worldwide 100% slave-free. We asked Frits Snel, US Country Manager, what it means to work for a business with purpose.
Tell us about your company’s mission and where your own passion for business with purpose came from.
The mission of Tony’s Chocolonely is “together we’ll make chocolate 100% slave-free. Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide.”
We are an impact company that makes chocolate, and we are changing the industry from within. We do that in line with our roadmap, which consists of three pillars:
1. Creating awareness
2. Leading by example
3. Inspiring to act
In terms of my passion for business with purpose, honestly, that started after I joined the company 7 years ago. Until that point I had only been working at large corporate organizations. Working for Tony’s has been a real eye opener. For instance, I learned that it’s actually possible to be commercially successful and make the world a better place at the same time. I couldn’t imagine working for a company that is not taking its responsibility anymore.
What do you think is the importance of the B Corp movement for business and for your customers?
For us, being a B Corp has always been about keeping us on our toes and not so much as a marketing tool. However, that actually is something that we’re reconsidering. B Corp is becoming more and more recognized and appreciated by consumers. At some point I hope we can reverse it, so that companies that do not meet the B Corp standards get a logo. Because it’s pretty weird that if you simply do the things that all companies should always do, you’re rewarded with a certification.
For customers, I think the main thing here is awareness. It’s becoming more and more evident that there are many companies that simply are not taking their responsibility seriously and that B Corp certified companies do. I am not sure for how many people the certification is the main reason to buy, but what I do know is that it helps to raise awareness and, eventually, to structurally raise the bar in many areas.
How much does your business look to other B Corps as partners/suppliers?
We mainly work together with fellow B-Corps on impact initiatives. For instance, in the Netherlands, we’ve been pushing for Human Rights Due Diligence legislation. A total of 49 companies supported that initiative of which 27 were B Corps.
Being a B Corp also played an important role in our US launch. At the time, New Seasons Market, an Oregon based natural food retailer, was the only B Corp certified grocer. This gave common ground for an impactful partnership which has lasted for 6 years now.
For suppliers, it is definitely considered to be a benefit if they are B Corp certified, however it’s not a demand. If it was, we would limit ourselves too much in our choices. We want to do business in a way that’s scalable to show big choco companies that even at their size it is possible to adopt our 5 sourcing principles. That being said: we do have a strict sourcing policy ourselves that not only meets, but exceeds the strictest standards.
What are your key learnings from the process of becoming B Corp certified?
There is a rigorous assessment (the B Impact Assessment) which returns a score after we answer questions and provide supporting documents/evidence. The certification happens once every two years. Our score did decline in the last assessment. We need to (continue to) meet the standards of governance, workers, community, environment and customers to be/remain B Corp certified.
What does the future look like for your business?
Promising I can say. We’re making headway in a few strategic markets like the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, where things are really taking off. More importantly: there are clear signs of growing issue awareness. Our ultimate goal is a cocoa supply chain that’s free of forced child labor and modern forms of slavery, regardless of whether that’s out chocolate or our competitor’s.
Who is your sustainability hero?
Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop. Her motto “If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room” has been a great source of inspiration.
This article has been posted by MaCher to celebrate B Corp Month 2021 and build awareness of companies that meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance. For more information about Tony’s Chocolonely, please click here.