Muriel Pénicaud: “Putting milestones on the way to being economic and social”


Danone’s Executive Vice-President Human Resources shares her thoughts on the Danone Ecosystem Fund and DanCares, two projects that are at the heart of Danone’s mission – and that impact the company in a powerful way.


Muriel Pénicaud is Executive Vice-President Human Resources at Danone, where she is also in charge of social innovation. This mission is right in the footsteps of a professional career, both in the public and in the private sector, dedicated to innovation and well-being at work. Muriel Pénicaud shares her views on two projects that she is passionate about: what are the effects of the Danone Ecosystem Fund and the DanCares project on Danone?


Part 1: DanCares: “Our goal is to make it big”


“DanCares is an innovation and an ambition at the heart of the dual project of Danone”: being economic and social. The idea came from a striking observation: Danone has more than 100,000 employees and 60,000 of them live in emerging countries, where they have low access to health services and coverage. Because our mission is “health”, and because the number of people from emerging countries gets bigger and bigger every year, we decided two years ago that one of our priorities would be to provide all Danoners in the world with an access to health benefits and coverage.” Danone is the first group to do such a thing at worldwide level. In every country, the teams have been working for a year now to help guarantee physical and financial access to good-quality health services.With already great success:

When we started operationally, one year ago, I thought it would take a year just to get started. But the enthusiasm of our teams has been so great that at the end of last year we had already covered 28 000 people around the world, and even more, because in some countries it was decided to cover the entire family. It’s like a wave!

Muriel Pénicaud explains this enthusiasm on two accounts. First, it is a huge social progress, with a lot of meaning. And there is hope that the initiative will be contagious. Muriel Pénicaud recalls a competitor in Mexico who called her saying: “You are doing reverse social dumping!” He reproached her with making the cost of labor increase. But when she replied that he should be happy, because now he must be more competitive, he explained: “now, all of our people want to go in your company. You are attractive, and we are not anymore, so we are going to be obliged to follow.” And Muriel loves it:

There is a lot of pride in our team to be the first ones to provide that.

But the Dan’Cares project is also interesting in terms of business. “For instance, in Mexico, the turnover of people has decreased by half in six months. In China, they use it for employer branding: there is a very strong attraction, it is a strong differentiator factor, to show that we can provide this to all employees. In Indonesia, it is more about engagement.” Why is the economic impact so important to Danone?

Because if it is just generous, it is not enough to be sustainable. If it is a social progress with economic value, then it will be sustainable, replicable and scalable. That’s our goal. To make it big.

It is still only the early stage, but one third of Danoners are already covered, and a vast majority should be too in the years to come. “For me and my team, it is really energizing to put a new milestone on the way to being economic and social at the same time, it’s a great reward and a great journey.” The path to the future is drawn!


Part 2: The Danone Ecosystem Fund:

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