Tony’s Chocolonely locks down its sustainability mission with new legal structure

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Tony's Chocolonely took its slave-free chocolate to the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. Pic: CN
Tony's Chocolonely took its slave-free chocolate to the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago. Pic: CN

Related tags Tony's Chocolonely Chocolate Cocoa Sustainability

Tony’s Chocolonely has announced it has implemented a new legal ‘golden share’ mechanism to indefinitely protect its mission of producing ‘slave free chocolate’ – regardless of shareholder structure.

Tony’s mission of eradicating exploitation in the chocolate industry, its 5 Sourcing Principles and the legal obligation of Tony’s leadership team to uphold these, are already embedded in Tony’s Articles of Association. The company is now going one step further to indefinitely safeguard the company’s purpose, by introducing a brand-new governing structure: Tony’s Mission Lock.

The mechanism will legally utilize a golden share to forever protect Tony's mission of making 100% slave free the norm in the chocolate industry, regardless of the shareholder structure of the company, and will be overseen by three experienced ‘Mission Guardians’, Seth Goldman, Ikenna Azuike and Anne-Wil Dijkstra.

What it means in simple terms is that by holding a golden share in the company, Mission Guardians will have the power to prevent any legal changes to the definition of the company’s mission and its 5 Sourcing Principles.

Mission Guardians will have several escalation levers to ultimately hold Tony's leadership team to account publicly and judicially and the company hopes the Mission Lock structure will act as an inspiration to other companies looking to protect their mission for the long term.

The structure is chaired by Seth Goldman, Founder of Honest Tea and Eat the Change and Chair of Beyond Meat. Goldman is also a world-leading impact entrepreneur with extensive experience in growing mission-led companies with a range of public and private shareholder structures.

Lawyer turned broadcaster, Ikenna Azuike brings a breadth of experience in social and climate activism, strategy and journalism, an understanding of West Africa’s socioeconomic context, as well as legal experience from his early career as a lawyer to the table.

Anne-Wil Dijkstra, Tony’s former Chief of Impact, Operations and People & Culture, rounds off the Mission Guardian trio and brings to the team valuable insider knowledge of Tony’s impact model and hands-on experience of implementing this model operationally.

Speaking of his role as Mission Guardian, Seth 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, historically 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 5 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.”

The Mission Guardians and Tony’s Chief Chocolonely, Douglas Lamont, will officially sign the structure’s formation document live at Tony’s FAIR, on 8 June in Amsterdam, where they will discuss what this evolution of a Mission Lock means, both to Tony’s mission and that of other impact companies, during a live Q&A.

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