• Reinforce support for actions that assist and further the
mission of cultural excellence.
• Share with teams, if appropriate, summaries of all significant meetings, executive reviews, and of any engagement
with business partners where food safety is on the agenda.
Sharing your own food safety objectives and deliverables
with your team is an excellent way to model accountability
and transparency, and shows how individual objectives are
intertwined with furthering the organization’s culture.
Practice 2: Allocation of Resources to Food
Allocation of financial resources by executive leaders sends
a strong message to the organization that food safety is important. These resources could be capital for plant improvements
or IT system investments, expenses for training and education,
travel for supplier audits, participation in external meetings, or
having a requested expansion of personnel to drive and support the food safety agenda. The impact of these allocations
goes beyond the immediate project. This speaks loudly to
employees about the importance of food safety in the organization, thereby boosting the effectiveness of the food safety
An example that we have seen involves a major frozen
food firm that decided to ring-fence capital funds strictly for
food safety initiatives. Previous management, a private equity
firm, had not allocated resources to food safety, and therefore
the organization did not believe that the new management
team would invest in food safety. The ring fencing of funds
sent a strong message to the organization that food safety
would be an investment priority.
Another example of food safety investment sending a message is a midsize confectionary company. The sole plant of
this firm needed a new roof to stop roof leaks. A project to fix
the roof languished until the CEO realized that this wasn’t
just a nuisance: The leak endangered consumers. The CEO
quickly approved the project. This action helped set the tone
that food safety was an important investment.
Practical suggestions for food safety leaders to help senior
leaders set the right tone in managing resources:
• Work with the leaders of other functions to forge and
maintain continuous dialogue to gain influence and sup-
port. The value of food safety in terms of minimizing risk,
protecting consumers, and adding value to the bottom line
should always be at the forefront of any discussion. Re-
quests for resources should always fit within the corporate
and food safety culture model and lead to positive future
• Proper framing of resource requests can enhance the likeli-
Practice 3: Transparency
hood of project approval. Behavioral economists have
shown that framing requests in a way consistent with the
approver’s style increases the chance of project approval.
Food safety leaders should understand the company’s re-
quirements and frame requests appropriately.
An unhindered view of the current state—the strengths,
weaknesses, and vulnerabilities—is an important transformational step in any cultural journey. This clear view requires
building and sustaining trust, and reinforcing a mindset that
knowledge and information sharing are paramount to achieving excellence. Performance shortfalls and challenges along the
journey are important data points to share and reflect upon
constructively. This reflection will help build organizational
resilience and envision prevention processes from the ground
up. This also reduces the likelihood of the same problem being repeated across the organization by another site.
Learning from mistakes, failures, or near misses is an
invaluable experience to propel positive culture change. A
culture of safety excellence is well documented in the air
transport industry and is driven by an uncompromising commitment not only to studying failure and near-miss events in
depth, but also in systematically sharing these across the entire
At Glanbia, the “GPS” program (Glanbia Performance
System) recognizes the principle of “celebrating and identifying losses.” A leader must be willing to openly recognize and
provide an appreciation for the transparency of sharing of the
potential losses, incidents, and identified risks. This recognition demonstrates appreciation (not consequences) for the
identification of near misses and high-risk conditions that are
then systematically shared as part of learning and improvement. Glanbia has developed a global near miss database
that aggregates both internally and externally occurring cases,
which Glanbia uses as part of analysis, leadership team review,
and reflection. Leaders from the individual site reporting the
incident will develop the case study, root-cause analysis, and
key learnings, which are shared in the wider leadership forum.
All sites are requested to confirm their scope and potential
needed improvement actions from the case.
A question asked at Glanbia is prompted by a concern for a
dashboard that is all green—Have we set the bar high enough?
Did we aggressively identify emerging risks? Sometimes forcing a bell curve in standard reporting [e.g., reports must have
a minimum of 10 percent of their key performance indicators
(KPIs) in red to highlight where work is needed] can create a
more open sense to reflect upon vulnerabilities.
Practical suggestions for senior leaders to set the right tone
“Sharing your own food safety objectives and deliverables with your team is
an excellent way to model accountability and transparency...”