Chocolate is a great industry for young people to work in, said Patrick de Boussac, CEO of Touton and a leader in the cocoa industry for the past 20 years.
He was speaking on the final day of Chocovision 2018 in Davos, Switzerland, where leading stakeholders and businesses involved in the chocolate industry gather to talk shop every two years.
“Unfortunately, things have not changed since the 1990s. They have to change, both in the short- and long-term perspective,” he said. “We can only achieve that change with young men and women who are trained – well trained. We need to think long-term.”
De Boussac, a senior, grey-haired, white male, is indicative of CEOs not only in the chocolate industry, but in boardrooms throughout the corporate sector.
One of the main takeaways from this year’s Chocovision was the lack of diversity and inclusion in the sector.
In his closing remarks, Antoine de Saint-Affrique, CEO of Barry Callebaut, the organizers of the biennial event said: “We did not tackle women’s rights. So we will certainly get back to that at Chocovision 2020.”
Thanks to Kate Robertson, one of the founders of One Young World, a UK-based not-for-profit organization that gathers young leaders from around the world to offer a unique insight into the world’s problems and develop solutions, the millennial voice was heard in Davos this year.
She told delegates the need for leadership is important, that she was a committed capitalist and that in business there would always be a need for leadership at board level.
But the leaders of the pack must be young, brave and wise. The six One Young World delegates invited to Chocovision 2018 and who now work for Bühler Group, Ferrero and Barry Callebaut, “stand for their generation’s values – and sustainability is at the top,” said Robertson.
The previous day she had criticized a delegate who had the temerity to claim that millennials in general were a selfish bunch and were not bothered about the planet.
“I cannot look at these millennials and think that they do not really care, but I look at them and am ashamed for my generation,” she said.
One of the young delegates, Phyllis Kong from Ferrero, said she was optimistic about the future of the chocolate industry. “It’s all about taking action”, she said referring to many of the challenges laid down at this year’s conference, especially around sustainability.
“Youth engagement is very important and it’s good that we get a chance to speak and get our voice heard along with all the leaders in the cocoa industry. The next step is how we are going to organize this inter-generational dialogue so we can leave a better planet for the next generation.”
De Saint-Affrique, the boss of two of the young delegates who work for Barry Callebaut, said: “We all share that passion for transforming an industry. We all have the same goal. We all want cocoa and chocolate to still exist not only in five years, but also in 30 or 50 years from now. So we need to work together to achieve true, lasting sustainability.”
The august audience at this year’s Chocovision conference has shown a commitment for collaboration on many of the topics raised. “It can be done on small scale. So why is it not done across the industry yet?” said De Saint-Affrique. He asked delegates: “Are we moving fast enough?”
Only time will answer that question – at least it sets a compelling agenda for Chocovision 2020.