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Walking the Talk
Brands People Love on Purpose, feat. Tony's Chocolonely

We spoke with Aidaly Sosa — Tony’s Head of Marketing, USA — about the culture that drives the brand’s purpose to make chocolate 100% exploitation free.

Tony’s Chocolonely is an impact brand that makes chocolate, founded by three Dutch journalists who discovered that the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers bought cocoa from plantations that used child labor and modern slavery practices.

Today, the certified B Corp has also stayed true to its mission of making chocolate 100 percent free of human exploitation, worldwide. And it’s generating quite the buzz for its efforts: Think a product partnership with Ben & Jerry’s, appointing mission guardians with the power to veto changes to the brand’s ethical strategy, and even a lengthy shout-out from late night TV host, John Oliver.

Tony Chocolonely is out to prove that business as a force for good should be the norm, not the exception. And its company culture, says Aidaly Sosa — head of marketing for Tony Chocolonely’s USA — is an anchor for the brand as it raises awareness of social issues on a global scale, leads by example, and inspires others to think more carefully about their chocolate purchases.

You’re a brand with a baked-in (melted-in?) purpose. How do you live this purpose from the inside out?

Aidaly Sosa: We have a North star: to change and solve the issues within the cocoa industry. But the quality and values of our brand are applicable to our work in so many ways. It guides us as we show empathy for problems in the industry but with a positive mind in the way that we solve them. And when people join the company, they really feel this commitment. It’s not just something you say outside. It’s something we say multiple times a day to our coworkers and prove through everything we do in the company. It’s not only a story for the outside — we live it on the inside. And it’s sometimes the littlest things that make a difference in a company.

How does your brand purpose help you both recruit and retain employees?

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AS: Tony’s is very serious about people; and we believe that what we show to the outside world serves as a magnet to what you want to attract — so, our company culture is a magnet for what we want to attract. We benefit from the brand image we have out there; and it brings to us the type of talent we have coming in.

Everyone has a shared passion for social justice; so with that in mind, you have a common mindset to be empathetic toward others, to be open, to listen. We encourage each other to be open-minded with positive, solution-oriented mindsets. That’s so wired within the company.

How does your brand’s purpose impact your company culture?

AS: To be a Tony, you need to have four things: You need to be willful, outspoken, have the ability to make people smile, and be entrepreneurial. The company looks for the perfect balance between these four things. Each value represents what we stand for and the toolbox we need to go against the current and be focused and have a clear north star with what we achieve with our mission. We’re a small brand that wants to have a big voice — so, how do we do that? Be willful. Don’t take no for an answer. We are outspoken about the brand within the cocoa industry; and we want people to speak out about what they care about. Make people smile — it’s like, our packaging is very playful and fun; but it brings a very serious message.

To read more on how Tony’s Chocolonely and other brands are proving their purpose — and how yours can, too — check out the following resources: