Adding Credibility and Transparency to OSI’s Sustainability Actions
February 6, 2020
Operating a global company like OSI means that there are tremendous opportunities to make positive impacts in our industry, our business and the lives of the people in communities around the world. But the global reach of OSI also comes with unique and important challenges, especially standardizing best practices and guidelines for our operations while influencing the industry as a whole. That is why OSI has set up internal processes and works with third-party auditors to verify that we are accomplishing goals established for our sustainability priorities in the supply chain, the environment and the communities in which we operate.
From our strategic sustainability process and its associated materiality analysis, OSI has organized the most significant issues into priorities for our company. These priorities build on the sustainability vision that OSI has been communicating to stakeholders and our supply base over the past few years to highlight the specific categories of Sustainable Supply and Procurement, Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility. Highlighting specific priorities advances OSI’s approach by defining the opportunities where we can drive meaningful and sustainable impact in our long-term goals.
“OSI is proud to be a solutions provider for global customers,” said Travis Patterson, OSI Vice President of Global and National Accounts. “Protecting our customers’ brands requires us to ensure the same high standards are in place wherever OSI operates and our ability to ensure these standards are understood and in place sets us apart from our peers.”
Our sustainability priorities, though, are not just buzzwords that fill posters to hang in facilities and offices around the world. These priorities actually guide how OSI operates and does business, and we use them to measure our progress in achieving our goals. Using audits and establishing guidelines for sustainability activities and operations help OSI operationalize standards and practices that can be applied around the world. We use these standards to discover any potential shortcomings and monitor for corrective actions. OSI’s audits have helped our company’s management systems develop and improve by catching and correcting problems more quickly.
Navigating a Patchwork of Local Laws and Guidelines
Although OSI facilities and global brands are located around the world in countries and local municipalities with their own laws and regulations, these facilities are held to the same international industry standards regardless of where they operate. OSI, in its duty as a partner, uses third-party audits to ensure each facility and brand is operating at the same high level of performance in sustainability and ethics. That is why OSI’s facilities in the United States and Europe are held to the same audit criteria as OSI’s facilities in India, the Philippines and China.
These audits help us track progress against specific sustainability priorities. These sustainability priorities are not only important to OSI, they are also important to OSI’s customers, the entire industry and consumers. Because consumers are increasingly demanding to know more about the products they purchase, OSI’s customers and partners want to ensure they can communicate the sustainability of their products. To reduce the redundancy of each partner and entity creating its own auditing scheme, these third-party audits are based on global best practices and help standardize what it means to be a sustainable company.
The most common and important sustainability areas that these audits address include safety, labor practices, management systems, emergency planning, compliance with local laws, environmental management, and human rights issues. These topics help verify business integrity within OSI facilities and, at times, also include engagement around the same issues with OSI’s suppliers and partners in the industry.
They also help highlight areas of improvement, so facilities are keeping up with any changes to laws and implementing best practices with quantifiable sustainability impacts that are above and beyond legal compliance. But achieving and maintaining these high sustainability standards is no easy task.
Customers and consumers understand how important it is to maintain these high sustainability and ethical standards and want to be assured that claims being made are reliable and all international standards are incorporated. That is why it is important to have the added credibility and transparency that comes with third-party auditing and external assurance that any potential risks are mitigated. It also helps us to plan for emergency circumstances prior to a potential incident.
Standardizing Audits to Encourage Improvement
For any facility that is being audited, there are a large number of people that are involved to ensure the management systems are working as expected and no surprises are found during the review. A facility or company under audit has to produce reports and other information from every corner, not just from one person or place. While there may be one person with the main management and responsibility of organizing materials and the tour for the audit, most areas of the facility will have to contribute, from training materials to policies and day-to-day operations of management systems. Often, multiple employees are interviewed to verify what the records are showing.
Because of this, one of the natural results that occurs from these third-party audits is that companies are encouraged to formalize a management system that ensures each part of the business is operating by – and making improvements in – their sustainability vision. Management systems make companies more efficient not just by achieving a one-time result, but by putting in place processes and systems that work towards continuous improvement.
OSI’s Internal Audits on Sustainability
OSI has been reporting on our sustainability activities since 2010, but the 2016-2017 Global Sustainability Report was the first integration of our company’s sustainability efforts into a single narrative from around the globe. Since then, we have continued to refine our approach to target strategic impacts in the areas of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and sustainable supply chains. Currently, OSI has 25 facilities that undergo third party human rights and safety audits.
OSI has evaluated the progress made toward prior regional commitments and set new, ambitious targets at the global level for 2025. We have also looked for opportunities to use our size and global scope as an advantage by highlighting and sharing resources for best practices across the global business.
We recognize that, given the wide variety of issues that are raised about food production, it is important to review and prioritize the critical areas where the company can specifically drive impact. We understand that our customers want to know who makes their food and how valuable resources are treated. That is why we heavily engage in multi-stakeholder initiatives as a means of obtaining important feedback from industry partners, communicating our own priorities and staying up-to-date on important trends.
The OSI Global Sustainability Team that is Making OSI’s Sustainability Vision a Reality
OSI’s Global Sustainability Team strategy and activities are led by Chief Sustainability Officer Nicole Johnson-Hoffman, who was appointed at the end of 2017. Weekly updates on sustainability goals, performance and initiatives are provided to OSI’s president and chief operating officer.
The OSI Board of Managers also provides oversight and receives annual sustainability performance updates from senior management on business ethics, environmental and social sustainability topics. OSI’s Global Sustainability Team is a cross-functional group of leaders from across each of OSI’s regions of operation who support the direction of OSI’s global priorities.
The members of the team ensure that OSI’s sustainability goals and priorities are integrated throughout all areas of the business from their expertise in operations, procurement, environmental management, health and safety and quality assurance. The team meets regularly via conference calls or face-to-face meetings. Separately, regional sustainability leaders track the progress of OSI’s global initiatives, monitor performance, share best practices across the group and keep internal and external stakeholders informed about achievements against targets.
OSI also utilizes an internal dashboard to track sustainability KPIs on a plant, regional and global level to understand our company’s performance against established targets. Each facility pursues specific, detailed continuous improvement projects. Additionally, each region also develops its own action plans as it integrates its sustainability ambitions with those of the broader OSI organization. Each action contributes positively to the overall impact the company has on advancing sustainability throughout our business.