To read or scan the full interview, check out the transcription below:
Introduction & Company Background
Kristy: Sure. My name is Kristy Meringolo, and I am the Chief Compliance Officer at Hain Celestial.
Interviewer: And tell us a bit about Hain Celestial, the company, the revenue, the number of employees, whatever makes sense.
Kristy: Hain Celestial is a natural and organics company operating in markets around the world. Our mission is to provide consumers with better-for-you products they can use in their everyday lives. We have roughly 8,000 employees internationally.
Interviewer: That question that I mentioned about the shift in strong ethics and core compliance for companies where senior management is held to a higher standard, can you comment on that?
Kristy: Sure. You know, I think there is an ethical transformation that’s happening where consumers are interested in companies that are mission-driven and have a purpose. That was actually one of the reasons why I was excited to join the team at Hain Celestial. We’re a very mission-focused company and have always been a mission-focused company. I think sticking to our roots and our values as a company is really important and supportive of this ethical shift we see more globally. And I think it’s important for executives and for companies really to talk about their ethics and to connect with consumers. I believe that will become more and more important as generations evolve.
Interviewer: Great! And with this shift, how do CEOs and CCOs need to think differently? How have their roles changed?
Sticking to our roots and our values as a company is really important and supportive of this ethical shift we see more globally
Kristy: I think CEOs and CCOs are more public-facing individuals. And I know internally for us, our CEO is very public-facing. He wants to interact and wants to be very transparent in displaying the company message and really getting out there to explain to our consumers what the company stands for. And I think it’s important to see that and to have more of this public-facing role within our industry and within consumer products more broadly.
Interviewer: Great. So just a couple questions about your team and your role.
Kristy: Sure. I recently joined Hain Celestial about five months ago, and we’re still in the process of developing a team. I am responsible for compliance and also for litigation for the company, and because it is just me on the team, I’m really looking to leverage a cross-functional team to help roll out different initiatives at the company.
Leveraging Tech to Create More Lean Ethics Policies
Interviewer: Okay, great. Let’s pivot over to technology and Convercent. How important is the role of technology in the ethical transformation you touched on?
Kristy: I think technology is very important in the role of the ethical transformation, particularly where we have a lean organization and a lean infrastructure. I’m using technology to really leverage my ability to interact with more employees and third parties around the world. I think without technology, my ability to reach as many individuals would be far more limited.
Interviewer: Great, so have you had an ethics and compliance platform? Why did you look for a solution, and how are you going to leverage Convercent?
Kristy: We have different technological solutions currently. It’s a more of a dispersed and disparate program we use in different countries and different parts of our company. The purpose of Convercent was really to integrate everything and bring it all together so we have one compliance solution for the company. Our employees can go to one place to access all things related to compliance.
Interviewer: You brought up integration and a centralized platform. Is there anything you can speak to individually about COI, learning, or policy as far as how you plan to leverage the Convercent ethics cloud platform?
Kristy: We plan to use Convercent as a centralized repository for everything related to our compliance program. It will be our repository for all of our policies internationally, and it will be the platform our employees use to access training. We’re really excited about taking advantage of the campaign functionality where we can send out communications to our employees that contain policy material and training material in one communication.
Convercent and the Ethical Journey
Interviewer: Just a few more questions here. Can you tie Convercent to your ethical journey and how Convercent will help you drive ethics and values to the center of your company, more than just a focus on compliance? I don’t know if that’s a conversation you’ve had yet and if you can speak to that.
Kristy: Sure. I think for compliance to be successful, it really needs to be cross-functional. In order to really on-board Convercent and to begin that process, I’ve spoken with different stakeholders at our company about how to leverage the technology in more of a cross-functional approach. So we’ve looked at using Convercent for different kinds of employee engagement surveys, so expanding the conflicts of interest platform really to give us the ability to send out different kinds of employee questionnaires. We’ve looked at it to leverage other kinds of training, HR-related training, finance-related training, and really explore different possibilities. We’re working with the third-party risk management tool and piloting that program and hoping we can have more of a holistic, operational supply chain approach to third-party management.
Interviewer: Great. Two more questions. Is there anything you can say about the Convercent team you’ve worked with so far? So you’ve got the account team, the executive team, Molly, and a few others. What’s your experience been?
Kristy: I think the Convercent team is terrific, and one of the reasons why we decided to work with Convercent was really just the strength of the team. Very patient, very resourceful, and I felt like I had a good partnership from the very beginning.
Interviewer: Awesome. The last question is more global. Going back to ethical companies and looking ahead, so when we talk about building more ethical companies, what does that do beyond the business? So to communities, to cultures outside of companies? Our mantra here is about driving ethics to the center of business for a better world. We really believe that, and we would love to hear from companies if that’s resonating with you. So on the economy, for instance, do you see that driving ethics to the center of businesses does have an impact beyond Hain Celestial?
Kristy: I think driving ethics to the center of the business does have an impact beyond Hain Celestial. I think that around the world, companies have a huge influence on culture, local economies, global sustainability, and on global climate change. And there’s a lot that companies can do to leverage their position in the world to really help make the future better.