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Innocent Drinks on why culture has been key to its success

Emilie Stephenson, UK head of force for good at Innocent Drinks, explains how a great business culture comes from the right blend of ingredients

Chill out Lunch photo innocent drinks

Established in 1998 by Richard Reed, Adam Balon and Jon Wright, Innocent Drinks started out selling smoothies at a music festival in London. From these beginnings, it has grown into a global corporation with revenues of £426m and 20.5 per cent of the European chilled juice market in 2022.

In 2013, the firm was bought by Coca-Cola and in 2018 became a B Corp, committing to donate 10 per cent of profits to charitable causes. 

Innocent Drinks was eight years old when Emilie Stephenson joined the company to help it launch in France. She outlines the firm’s secret sauce: its culture.  

Empowering employees

“Enabling employees to bring their best self to work. This is done through an open and inclusive culture, a wide range of affinity groups and generally making sure people feel like they belong.” 

Fostering growth

“Just like nurturing a plant, we help people grow in their roles with a varied learning and development offering comprised of courses, an exciting onboarding programme that we call the Innocent induction, and plenty of mentoring/coaching and opportunities.  

We emphasise a strong employee culture, never forgetting that the little things can make a big difference

Emilie Stephenson, Innocent

“We also support progression within the business via promotions or lateral moves. We hold regular development chats, which we call ‘your future’, to understand employee expectations and match them to wider business needs.” 

Engaging the workforce

“We involve employees in our main charity initiatives, like the Big Knit [in aid of Age UK], or our Innocent Foundation scholarships, which offer the chance for employees to spend two weeks on one of our foundation projects around the world.” 

Focusing on enjoyment

Emilie Stephenson, head of force for good, Innocent
Emilie Stephenson is head of force for good at Innocent

“We make sure there is a human and fun touch to everything we do.  We often say that we take our products seriously but don’t ever take ourselves too seriously.” 

Live well, work well

“We emphasise a strong employee culture, never forgetting that the little things can make a big difference, be they free breakfasts, an infinite supply of fruit and vegetables, incentives to cycle and travel sustainability, and a culture of giving and receiving feedback. This makes Innocent Drinks as unified as possible and ensures it feels like one team, even though we’re growing.” 

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