Cadbury and culture

In the wake of its acquisition of Cadbury, Mondelez is reportedly investing millions to update the production capabilities at the historic Cadbury Bournville plant. In concert with the facilities upgrades, the company is also making changes to its workforce, through incentivized redundancies and expanded training.

These moves are generating attention, and apparent conflict. Union documents accuse Mondelez of attempting to "smash" the storied Cadbury culture, which Kraft/Mondelez had pledged to protect when the acquisition was being scrutinized by the British government several years ago. Among other things, the union claims experienced employees are being "forced" out, while the parent company brings inexperienced and (anti-union) contract workers.

And this week a training needs analysis is making headlines for specifying 30 types of unacceptable behavior, including "poor use of language" and "closed minds." It is interesting that while the areas of training analysis Mondelez is reportedly assessing largely align with accepted standards, the way it has framed the questions casts each area from a negative perspective, which may be contributing to the backlash.

Workforce training is an essential element for employers and employees alike, and it should be a positive one. Though as the reports out of the UK demonstrate, the the approach should be well thought out before implemented. Similarly, restructuring is an inevitable reality for any large business keeping pace with changing markets, though how short-term decisions are made and the changes are executed can have a lasting impact on corporate culture.

In any event, the ongoing transition at Cadbury remains an interesting case study in acquisition integration and change management.

Image source: Financial Times

-- Jay Jakub

Catalyst Content Briefing 24 March 2015

Addressing economic inequality in the developed world