Speaking at the Dairy Sustainability Conference in November in Sacramento, Calif., Bob Langert described how McDonald’s corporation, caught off guard, was defensive and reactive to the criticism of animal rights activists, environmentalists and nutrition extremists. But with a company commitment to getting out in front of these issues, Bob Langert led the firm to changing its practices and its messaging to better align with today’s consumers.
The parallels with the dairy industry are real and Langert’s book can teach some valuable lessons.
The Battle To Do Good: Inside McDonald’s Sustainability Journey is available for pre-order at Amazon.com
Why did you write the book?
Two reasons: First, I think the McDonald’s journey is absolutely fascinating, with plenty of twists, battles, heroes and villians. My book is a sustainability pager turner! I wrote it to be an easy and enjoyable read.
Second, I wanted to share the McDonald’s unique sustainability experience so that others can learn what it’s like working inside a big company, a huge brand, under societal attack so often, from claims of too much waste, mistreatment of animals, making children obese, destroying the Amazon, and more. My goal was to share many “hard knock nuggets” to help leaders today navigate the fuzziness of sustainability and develop a smart, strategic sustainability strategy for their organization.
What’s makes your book relevant to the food and agricultural community?
Much of my book is about food, sourcing, and supply chain issues, delving into issues such as laying hen housing, gestations stalls, soy issues in the Amazon, sustainable beef, and waste issues. I think farmers and producers will learn much about the retail and NGO mindset. They will see my company, McDonald’s, playing defense, and eventually evolving to playing offense. My book offers a roadmap on how to get proactive.
What do you want the farmer/producer to get out of reading your book?
My dream result is to motivate and inspire those laying low on sustainability in the food and agricultural sector, so they learn, become more award, and get lots of insight on how to see sustainability as an opportunity and necessity, not an add on.
What are the highlights of the book?
- 51 points of view beyond my own, from NGOs, suppliers and McDonald’s leaders.
- “Hard Knock Nuggets” at the end of each chapter to pass on lessons learned.
- Exposure to the inside of a mega-brand and icon of society.
- Absorbing the journey and evolution of a big brand under attack, befuddled, playing defense to a company that has learned from many hard knocks to eventually develop a more integrated, proactive sustainability strategy for its business.
- Learning from bold leaders and how they lead transformative change, both from the company and from NGOs.
Bob Langert is president of Mainstreaming Sustainability and editor at large for GreenBiz Group and retired as McDonald’s Vice President of CSR and Sustainability. For more about Bob, see boblangert.com