Ann Evans is Danone's Social Innovations Manager and works on promoting the company's health messages inside and outside the company.
When she went on her first maternity leave four years ago Ann Evans was working full time in a senior HR position at Danone Baby Nutrition. While on maternity leave she could see a need for the job she is doing now and she knew she didn't want to return to a full-time job.
With her manager at the time, they created the role of Social Innovations Manager, which included responsibility for the company's Community, Environmental, Diversity & Inclusion and Health & Wellbeing agenda, which had become more strategically important to the business since its acquisition by Danone in 2007.
Ann came back on four days a week, with her husband also working four days to cut down on the time her daughter spent in childcare. When starting in her new role she was able to think out of the box. “It was about bringing Danone’s mission of health through food to as many people as possible. Our mission was the cause behind our social innovation strategy,” says Ann.
Part of the strategy involved creating ‘Hey!’ (Healthy Eating for Young Children) a community programme for children aged one to three, in partnership with 4Children and Wiltshire County Council.
Ann is also working on health and wellbeing. Ann focuses on the health and wellbeing of Danone employees while her new job share partner, brought on board because the role was expanding, is working on a digital knowledge hub that aims to facilitate learning, insight and knowledge around health and nutrition for the company’s staff.
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From a people perspective, Ann supports the work of the HR team around being an ethical and responsible employer. This includes promoting family support, diversity and inclusion through, for instance, agile working and she is currently exploring the benefits of creating networks, such as parenting and carer networks to support workers. In fact, it was some of Ann’s work on which Danone's Workingmums.co.uk Top Employer Award for Family Support was based. The Award [pictured being collected] was made in November and recognises the organisation's range of provision for family support.
Another pillar of the social innovation work is nature. Some of the areas overlap with each other, for instance, measures to promote cycling to work bridge health and nature.
Danone offers a comprehensive package of family support through My Family Care which covers all those stages, including providing emergency childcare and emergency care for elderly relatives who, for instance, might have had a fall and need someone to look after them.
Ann states that identifying carers can be harder than identifying new parents and creating a carers network may be a way of reaching them. She adds that, although the organisation offers enhanced paternity pay, HR staff do not sometimes know that a male employee has become a dad. “If we knew, we could do more to support them, including around flexible working,” says Ann. “We plan to look at what might work best to reach dads,” she states.
*This is an abbreviated version of an interview which will appear in the Workingmums.co.uk Best Practice Report linked to our Top Employer Awards, out in the Spring.