Martin Riant, Procter & Gamble

Martin Riant

Making Every
Day Better

Editors’ Note

Martin Riant joined Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1980 and held various brand management assignments in the U.K. In 1995, he became Vice President and General Manager, Korea, and one year later, Vice President and General Manager, Laundry and Food Products, Canada, Procter & Gamble North America. He then took on several managerial roles relating to Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. By 2003, he had become President, Global Feminine Care and, in 2007, he became Group President, Global Baby Care. He assumed his current post in 2013. Riant graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with an M.A. in geography.

Company Brief

Working in approximately 80 countries worldwide, Procter & Gamble (pg.com; P&G) has one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality leadership brands, including Tide®/Ariel®, Dawn®/Fairy®, Gillette®, Pantene®, Pampers®, and Crest®.

Would you discuss the importance of corporate philanthropy and social responsibility to the culture of P&G?

P&G has been a socially responsible company since 1837, when the founders established honesty and fair dealing as cornerstones of the way they operated. As the company grew, P&G was among the first to give workers Saturday afternoons off, when the norm for factory work was a six-day week. We established one of the first employee profit-sharing programs. We created a philanthropy program for giving back to the community that influenced the creation of the United Way. We try always to “do the right thing.” This is embedded in our culture as a company.

What was the vision behind P&G’s social sustainability program and what has been its impact since inception?

Our social sustainability program is designed to provide the comforts of home and health and hygiene to children in need. This is done in many ways: building schools, supporting community centers, providing hygiene education, and ensuring access to safe drinking water. The Children’s Safe Drinking Water program is our signature global program and it has helped save an estimated 35,000 lives by providing seven billion liters of clean water.

Today, we’ve linked our philanthropy more directly to the businesses we’re in and the kinds of products we make by providing families with access to the fundamentals of life – homes, health, and hygiene. Last year, more than 3,000 P&G volunteers helped build and clean Habitat for Humanity homes around the world. Our largest brand, Pampers, entered its eighth year of partnership with UNICEF to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus. Over this time, the program has provided 300 million vaccines to protect 100 million women and their babies, and eliminate this life-threatening disease in 10 countries where it was previously endemic. Just recently, we donated another 100,000 vaccines to this cause in partnership with Carrefour.

Our Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths initiative has provided almost 30,000 real hair wigs for women fighting cancer, and Wella’s Making Waves campaign has helped 7,000 vulnerable youngsters in Brazil and Romania develop skills to succeed.

P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water program

P&G’s Children’s Safe Drinking Water program
has provided seven billion liters of clean drinking
water for children like this one from Cambodia

How broadly do you focus your philanthropic efforts and do the areas you support align with P&G’s business strategy?

We believe that environmental sustainability and social responsibility programs will have the biggest impact over time when they’re led by our line businesses. It’s the best way to ensure they’ll receive the funding and other resources necessary to make a difference year after year.

We take a holistic view of sustainability that embraces our environmental impact as well as improved quality of life. We believe we should take a leadership role in growing responsibly and conserving resources. We’ve set specific and challenging environmental goals that include ultimately sending zero waste to landfills, using 100 percent renewable resources, and renewable energy. More than 50 of our manufacturing sites are now zero waste to landfill. We’re finding ways to use what we used to think of as waste or scrap for all kinds of productive purposes, like raw material for roof tiles or agricultural products.

We’ve innovated both our products and our operations to use less water and less energy – and to help consumers use less water and less energy when they use our products. Diapers are thinner but with the same or greater performance. We’ve compacted products so they use less packaging, increase the amount of product you can put in a truck, and reduce the number of trucks on the road and the fuel they burn. We’ve taken phosphates out of our laundry products and still improved their performance, so consumers feel they can make a positive choice for the environment without having to sacrifice quality.

How critical is it to have metrics in place to evaluate and measure the success of your programs?

When we announced our long-term environmental vision three years ago, we set goals for 2020 to ensure we were making measurable progress. We focus on year-to-year progress toward long-term goals.

In the past year, we’ve continued the global expansion of Tide PODS, which is one of the most concentrated detergents on the market and reduces plastic use by 50 percent per consumer. We’ve helped increase the number of washing machine loads washed in cold water from 38 percent to 50 percent since FY10/11. Our Gillette Venus packaging was redesigned for Venus & Olay to be recyclable and is manufactured using 26 percent less plastic.

On the operations side, our Huangpu, China plant partnered with a local utility supplier to install solar panels on the plant’s rooftop. This installation will eliminate 600 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually from the local community. At our Oxnard, California site, we reduced water use by nearly 25 percent.

Through our social programs, we’ve reached our goal of improving the lives of over 50 million people this year.

How do you communicate your corporate responsibility efforts to employees to make certain they are engaged in your programs?

We share progress widely and this drives a huge level of pride among employees worldwide. But we do more than communicate – we engage and involve employees. People are eager to donate their time and energy to building homes, helping out in times of disaster, or teaching life skills. We recently created the opportunity for some employees to take a three-month paid sabbatical to work in the field with our partners at UNICEF. This offers employees a unique experience and is hugely oversubscribed. We can always count on employees to step up and donate to disaster relief, which P&G matches dollar for dollar. And in every community where P&G operates, you’ll find P&G people showing up as community leaders, on school boards, helping nonprofits, and more.•