Mondelez International announced it is celebrating as it wraps up its first global month of service. During October 2013, 15,000 employees donated nearly 26,000 hours of service across 80 countries in projects to help protect the well-being of the planet.
In teams of three to 300, employees rolled up their sleeves and took on all sorts of work, including planting vegetable gardens for families in need in Mexico and Egypt; teaching nutrition basics in the U.S. and China; packing food for the hungry in France and Japan; organizing sports for children in the Philippines and India; and beautifying public spaces in Russia and Bahrain. Together, these small actions made a big community impact. To memorialize their experience and inspire action throughout the year, volunteers received a wristband engraved with one of the company's core values: "Lead with the head and the heart."
Among the thousands of volunteers, nine employees had the unique opportunity to spend two weeks learning and serving in cocoa-farming communities in Ghana as part of Mondelez International's pilot "Joy Ambassadors" program. The team from Brazil, China, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, Sweden and Switzerland learned first-hand from cocoa communities about their successes and challenges, while sharing their varied business skills.
Funded by the Mondelez International Foundation, the Joy Ambassadors program aims to go beyond traditional volunteering by directly sharing relevant business know-how with cocoa communities. The team lived in Koforidua, one of more than 200 Ghanaian villages active in Cocoa Life, the company's 10-year, $400 million sustainability program.
"Our first Joy Ambassadors project proved to be transformative experience for our people," said Nicole Robinson, president of the Mondelez International Foundation and senior director for Corporate Community Involvement, in a prepared statement. "We were able to teach, learn and add value to a Cocoa Life community. And this small team will make a big impact as they share their experiences across our company in this once-in-a-lifetime development experience."
Mondelez International's Joy Ambassadors represented each region where the company operates, and offered diverse backgrounds, from agronomy and research and development to operations, procurement, marketing and law. Together, they helped cocoa communities create action plans for development projects for education, agriculture and infrastructure; gained first-hand experience with cocoa harvesting; led town hall meetings to evaluate Cocoa Life projects; and coached farmers on project management, facilitation and presentation skills to help them become better advocates for development in their communities.
"This was a truly humbling and energizing experience," said Joy Ambassador Sarah McCann, senior director, human resources. "It left me with a good feeling with what we managed to do in a short time for cocoa communities. I've gained new friends for life and a deep sense of pride in what our company is doing through Cocoa Life that I'll share in my everyday work."