Barry Callebaut's One Young World Participants

Millennials and their hearts’ desire for sustainability

By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will comprise of millennials. In the 2017 Deloitte Millenial Survey, millennials interviewed said they view business positively and believe it is behaving in an increasingly responsible manner. However, they also believe multinational businesses are not fully realizing their potential to alleviate society’s biggest challenges. Today, we hear from three of our employees who recently attended one of the biggest international events, One Young World, an annual summit that brings together millennials from around the globe.

David Imbert, Sustainability Analyst & Controller, Barry Callebaut AG

“You are not the leaders of tomorrow. You are the leaders of today.” This mantra pervaded the four days of the 2017 One Young World conference in Bogotá, Colombia. Hosted by President Juan Manuel Santos and supported by senior dignitaries like former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and rockstar changemaker Sir Bob Geldorf, the gathering brought together 1,400 millennials and the young at heart to drive change on global issues of peace, justice and sustainability. The crowd ranged from tech entrepreneurs to genocide survivors, social media influencers to astronauts; people of diverse backgrounds embracing the same message: be the change, now.

David Imbert
David Imbert, Sustainability Analyst & Controller, Barry Callebaut AG

Barry Callebaut CEO Antoine de Saint-Affrique sent our delegation of 12 to One Young World on a mission to become “change agents in the company”.  We reflected on how to create impact back in our roles and, through our Forever Chocolate strategy, on the entire chocolate industry and indeed the world.   

One Young World celebrated the power of business and entrepreneurship to catalyze self-sustaining change. Being a part of the world largest cocoa and chocolate company, we are lucky to work inside a global business platform that also serves as a values-driven impact platform. We bring commercial solutions to address key sustainability issues in our industry, whether establishing startup businesses to offer farmers in Africa, Latin America and Asia microcredit and technology to invest their way out of poverty, or establishing the Cocoa Horizons Foundation to offer chocolate lovers a means to pool their impact and communicate the value of sustainable cocoa. Barry Callebaut and other like-minded businesses represent the ideal environment for young change agents and a driving force behind the success of One Young World!

Rosy Lim, Risk Position Controller for Cocoa, Barry Callebaut Asia Pacific

I come from Asia, where the concept of sustainability is still not mainstream - and probably because affluence and livelihood are more pressing concerns. But it doesn’t help that sustainability has also become an “overused” and sometimes abused buzz word. Which leaves me to question… is this really going to work for my generation?

It’s not far-reaching to think that millennials are more environmentally and socially conscious. Indeed, we are idealistic young consumers, seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world. We are more engaged and stay longer in a company that shows real purpose and commitment to a responsible business.

Rosy Lim, Barry Callebaut employee
Rosy Lim, Risk Position Controller for Cocoa, Barry Callebaut Asia Pacific

The growing influence of millennials in Asia is just one of the many trends putting pressure on businesses and brands in the region to be more sustainable. Increasingly, companies - even in China and India - are adapting processes and production practices to make their products sustainable and seize the opportunities this rapidly growing generation of consumers creates.

But what am I personally able to do to make an impact? We all have a voice as well as a job. I believe that on one level, doing our job well is already contributing to sustainability. Smooth operations and accountability contribute to the well-being of the organization. However, what I’ve heard from our business leaders and what I’ve experienced from One Young World made me realize that doing my job well is not good enough.

There are more actions we can do at work. For a start: Play our part in ensuring ethics, governance, and transparency in how we operate. Put our energy into fair-trading business relationships and community development. Drive processes that value our customers’ desire for quality products and services. Support diversity, employees development and uphold policies that protect the environment where we work.

There are more than we can do to make this work. This is a journey for everyone to take. There will be challenges but "crisis creates opportunity to make a change", as I was aptly reminded by Professor Mohammad Yunus at the recent One Young World event.

This is a call for my fellow millennials and colleagues to go ahead strongly to make a change. I believe the results we achieve will be a sweet fruit for us as well as our future generation. I love Chocolate and I hope the everyone and future generation gets to enjoy it as much as I do.   

Anneleen Verspeek, Project Manager OSCO Business Development, Barry Callebaut Belgium

The One Young World summit was a true inspiration for me. Many of the speakers who took the main stage were very young people who have accomplished so much to bring change to their communities. From their stories, I was personally energized to start up new initiatives and not get demotivated when I find myself at the receiving end of some pushback.

Anneleen Verspeek, Barry Callebaut employee
Anneleen Verspeek, Project Manager OSCO Business Development, Barry Callebaut Belgium

The stories that impacted me the most were the ones presented about peace. It was very powerful to hear first-hand accounts from some refugees and those living in conflict-ridden regions. I am filled with admiration for them. They were treated very badly, yet were able to rise above the offense, forgive their abusers and fight back in a positive way. These stories really opened my eyes to see that by reaching out a helping hand to people in need, we can already make a big change for them and give them the energy to stay on the right path.

I was also impacted by the message from AnnaLynne McCord who said that every child is born with the same mindset and wants to hug everyone independent of a person’s skin color, job or wealth. What did we, as a society, do so wrong to allow these children to grow up into adults who see violence as an only option and abandon their inclusive mindset? I hope that we, as One Young World ambassadors, will be able to take the principles of these change agents, and apply them where we are at. Let us drive the change and make our world a better place for the future generations.

What do Millennials think of Forever Chocolate - ... 

we find out at One Young World 2017!

Barry Callebaut One Young World delegation 2017
Barry Callebaut One Young World delegation 2017

Related links

Shuen Tam

Shuen Tam

Supporting corporate communications for Barry Callebaut in Asia Pacific, she writes as if her life depends on it. Lives straddled between Singapore and Malaysia; loves music, babies, dogs and chocolate, though not together.

Get in Touch