Tony’s Chocolonely has introduced a legal mechanism to prevent shareholders from rolling back on the company’s sustainability pledge.
The new governing structure involves “golden shares” to protect the chocolate company’s aim of eradicating inequality and exploitation in the industry, regardless of future shareholder structures.
It will be overseen by three independent “mission guardians” – entrepreneur Seth Goldman, British-Nigerian presenter Ikenna Azuike and former Tony’s board member Anne-Wil Dijkstra.
The measures, which will be signed off today, will also allow the trio to hold the company’s leadership to account if they believe there has been a breach of Tony’s mission-related responsibilities.
If working with senior management fails to solve the problem then they can escalate their concerns publicly or refer the matter for legal investigation and arbitration at the Enterprise Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Amsterdam.
Mr Goldman said: “I’ve learnt from my own experience that even when we create companies with the highest aspirations in mission, times change, people change, new people come in, and organisations change too, so no mission is guaranteed.
“I hope we can serve as advocates for all people and communities around the world that are served and supported by Tony’s five sourcing principles.
“Like anything new and unproven, I’m sure we will learn along the way. But I also hope our approach can become a model for other purpose-driven brands.”
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Tony’s chief executive Douglas Lamont said he hopes the move will inspire other brands to “look more closely at what they can do to secure their mission too”.
He added: “A growing number of purpose-driven companies are looking for ways to secure their impact models at the core of their business permanently and irrevocably, independent of shareholder structure.”