When John Cadbury opened his first shop in 1824, he wouldn’t have known quite how much of a British institution his name and product would become. The first Cadbury shop, a tiny residence at 93 Bull Street in Birmingham, sold cacao and drinking chocolate that John Cadbury made himself using a pestle and mortar. With his passion fueling his venture, he opened his first shop following his Quaker values, believing most of all that a business should make an effort to provide and support its community. This communal ethos has survived as Cadbury grew from a single shop to a global giant, let alone a British institution and the U.K.’s favourite chocolatier. Cadbury has done wonders to provide housing and employment in Birmingham, providing a massive boost to the local economy.
Cadbury and Brigad are not disimilar - two companies who are passionate about changing the way people work and improving and supporting communities within the industry. What was once a small Birmingham business venture has become a world-renowned leader in the industry.
Today, Cadbury employs approximately 140,000 people worldwide, with manufacturing and processing facilities in over 180 countries, and despite being one of the world’s leading chocolatiers, the company preserves their community spirit through its work in the Cadbury Foundation - a charity that offers healthy lifestyle coaching and educational opportunities to its employees and their local community.
As of September this year, Brigad had improved the lives of over 15,000 talents, and with our launch in Birmingham soon arriving, we’ll keep expanding and this number will just keep growing.
Cadbury - born in Birmingham
The Cadbury family were an important part of Birmingham’s history long before John Cadbury got into making chocolate. As a long line of Quakers, the family were involved in the social issues of the time, including campaigning for the end of child labour, in jobs such as chimney sweeping, and giving education to the working classes. The family were integral to work reforms of the time by fighting for more rights for workers and better working conditions.
John Cadbury’s founding of the Cadbury brand was a way for him to continue helping the people of Birmingham. The first factory was opened in 1831, on Birmingham’s Crooked Lane, providing many jobs to the local community. John gave better working conditions to his workers than was generally expected in the Victorian era - young employees were even encouraged to attend night schools and were allowed to leave work early twice a week. However, it wasn’t until John’s sons Richard and George took over that the company began to rapidly grow and really make an impactful change in workers’ lives in Birmingham.
Putting talents first
Richard and George had grand ideas when it came to turning the family business into a community project. They opened the Bournville factory in 1879, and its workers’ facilities were excellent even compared to our standards today. Workers had heated dressing rooms, kitchens, gardens, sports fields for cricket, hockey, bowls and football, and even swimming pools. Cadbury’s management team even organised reduced rail fares with the railway companies to reduce costs for their employees. They developed medical and dental departments at the turn of the century and were one of the first factory-led businesses to establish a pension fund in 1906. By prioritising the passionate, hard-working members of the community, they improved the lives of many around them. Sound familiar?
If this wasn’t enough progressive workers' policies for the time, George Cadbury went one step further and decided to turn the Bournville factory into a workers' village - something that would become common practice for mining communities. Cadbury’s built 143 detached cottages with private gardens in 1895, entirely for its workforce and their families. Each cottage had vegetable gardens and fruit trees for workers to be able to grow their own food. Always thinking of the future, the Cadbury brothers built on land with the condition that extra space could only be used as ‘parks, recreation grounds and open space.’ In other words, they made sure that the area would always benefit those living there. Cadbury was a leading employer who took efforts to help create many, many benefits for their employees.
Growth while maintaining company values
At the turn of the century, Cadbury began developing products that we still buy today - the recipe might have changed a little over the years, but the names haven’t. 1875 saw Cadbury create their first line of easter eggs, and 1905 saw Cadbury’s Dairy Milk being launched - the company’s flagship ‘megabrand’ that sells around 350 million bars a year. The Bournville Cocoa drink came in 1906, then the bar in 1908, Fry’s Turkish Delight appeared in 1914, and the Milk Tray was invented in 1915 - even this lesser-known product now sells around 8 million units a year, showing just how big of a brand Cadbury’s has become.
There are now a host of giant Cadbury products that have become household names in their own right: Flakes (the #1 chocolate bar in ice cream vans up and down the country), Twirls, Buttons, Crunchies, Curly Wurly, Creme Eggs (an easter classic), Wispas, Freddos - and it wouldn’t be Christmas without a tub of the classics: Roses and Heroes. The list goes on, countless products, and even variations on classic flavours (How many variations on Dairy Milk bars have there been over the years?) Cadbury’s has become a household name, and then a global enterprise, thanks to clever marketing and solid products. However, they wouldn’t be where they are today without the efforts that the founders put in all those years ago to make world-leading working conditions for their employees.
Cadbury has always had their community in mind and continues to offer support to this very day. Chocolate bars and self-employed professionals are two very different things, but the point is the prioritising of the individuals, and therefore treating them correctly, has paid off for both Cadbury’s workers, and the Talents discovering the Brigad app.
Helping Others to Help Themselves
Cadbury continues to help the community today. The Cadbury foundation is a charitable organisation first set up by John Cadbury in 1935, and it now raises around £600,000 a year. The Cadbury Foundation invests in social and community projects and has invested over 10 million in the last decade. Today, the Foundation’s motto is “helping others to help themselves” - echoing the original Cadbury brothers’ belief that a happy, healthy and educated community is great for both the workforce and the business.
The Cadbury foundation invests in three key areas, the first being health and well-being. Inspired by the Bournville estate’s employee vegetable patches and fruit orchards, the foundation strives to encourage healthy eating and well-being, funding cooking classes, food distribution and sports centres to encourage regular exercise. The Cadbury Foundation also invests in the local community by offering skill-based development and providing training and education that can help the community develop and grow. The foundation shows that even after the company can become a global giant, it can still keep to its roots - and when it comes to Cadbury’s, those roots are in helping the local community.
Brigad’s roots are firmly cemented in the community, as we build new relationships and connect new talents to new businesses everyday. We prioritise the way people feel about work, ensuring they leave their latest mission, smiling and pleased to be living off their passion. This is why it makes complete sense that Brigad and Birmingham will soon be connected.