By Dr. Mark Camilleri
Many successful businesses are forging strategic alliances in their value chain in order to run their businesses profitably. They also promote the right conditions of employment, where they can. Arguably, several businesses are doing well by doing good as they create shared value opportunities in their supply chains. At the same time, they are instrumental in improving the lives of their suppliers. They do this as they want to enhance the quality and attributes of their products, which are ultimately delivered to customers and end consumers.
Nestlé, Google, IBM, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Wal-Mart are some of the multinational organizations who have somewhat embraced the ‘shared value’ approach. These successful global businesses have shown that they are capable of creating value for shareholders as well as for society in general. In many cases they are building partnership and collaborative agreements with external stakeholders (including suppliers) hailing from different markets. Evidently, these businesses are reconceiving their products as they take a broad view of their purchasing, procurement and production activities.
Several multi-national organizations are looking beyond their short-term profits for shareholders. They are also looking after their other marketplace stakeholders. Many multinational organizations are redefining productivity in the value chain and enabling local cluster developments to mitigate risks, boost productivity and competitiveness.
Nestlé’s business principles incorporate the 10 United Nations Global Compact Principleson human rights, labor, the environment and corruption. Nestlé is an active member of the Compact’s Working Groups and Initiatives. ‘Creating shared value’ has become an integral strategy of how Nestlé does its business. In a nutshell, this approach is focusing on stakeholder engagement as well as environmental sustainability. Nestlé maintains that it complies with international regulatory laws and acceptable codes of conduct, as it improves its company’s operations. Yet, at the same time it is nurturing its suppliers’ (the farmers’ in the developing countries) talents.
Nestlé has revisited its numerous processes and its value chain activities. Each stage of the production process, from the supply chain to transforming resources adds value to the overall end product, for the benefit of the company itself. Nestlé sources its materials from thousands of farms; many of them are situated in poorer rural regions of the world. Nestlé provide training to their suppliers in order to encourage sustainable production while protecting their procurement, standards and quality of their raw materials. This brings positive, long-term impacts on the local economy. At the same time, the suppliers are running profitable farms, as they are offering their children a better education. Moreover, both Nestlé and the suppliers are committed to protecting their natural environmental resources for their long term sustainability. On their corporate site, Nestlé indicates that their key performance indicators for responsible sourcing include:
- 89.5 percent of suppliers must comply with Nestlé’s Supplier Code.
- Nestlé’s sources 11 percent of its cocoa through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan, where they have trained more than 27,000 farmers and distributed more than 1,000,000 high-yield, disease-resistant cocoa plantlets.
- Nestlé helped 14 cocoa cooperatives achieve UTZ or Fair Trade certification.
- Nestlé purchased 133,000 tonnes of green coffee through Farmer Connect, trained more than 48,000 farmers and distributed 12 million coffee plantlets in 2012.
- 80 percent of the palm oil that Nestlé purchased this year was RSPO compliant, out of which about 13 percent was traceable RSPO certified oil and 67% had GreenPalm certificates.
- More than 8,000 farmers joined the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program in 2012 and we’ve sourced 68% of Nespresso coffee through the AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program.
Another great example is the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) which reaffirms that they are successful in identifying innovative opportunities within the environment as they foster closer collaboration with the community. IHG have aligned their CSR report with the Global Reporting Initiative Scorecard. The hotel chain claims that it can reach reductions in energy consumption of up to 10 percent over the next three years. IHG plans to achieve this target by using an online sustainability tool named Green Engage. IHG suggests that this tool has helped them in measuring and monitoring energy, water and waste management. The international hospitality chain prides itself of a dedicated web page entitled Corporate Responsibility Report which outlines innovation, collaboration,environmental sustainability and sustainable communities. These laudable initiatives deliver education programs to employees, diversity initiatives, and environmental protection among others issues. According to IHG, their key Green Engage achievements in 2012 were the following;
- Exceeded their three-year target (2010-2012) to reduce energy per available room by between 6 and 10% in our managed and owned estate with a reduction of 11.7 percent
- 50 percent of IHGs’ hotels (2,250 based on January 2012 hotel figures) have used Green Engage as at 14 January 2013.
- Reduced their carbon footprint in IHG owned and managed hotels by 19 percent per occupied room in a year
- Achieved an absolute reduction in global carbon footprint in IHG hotels and corporate offices by 76,000 metric tonnes in a year
- Launched a carbon calculator within IHG Green Engage using the industry approved carbon measurement methodology
- Launched a Green Meeting checklist for IHG hotels
- Developed further new features within IHG Green Engage such as multi-unit reporting and a water benchmark.
Evidently, many multinational organizations have taken on board Porter and Kramer’s latest notion, “creating shared value” as they work hard to ensure a sustainable and high quality supply of their raw materials. Some of these latest corporate responsibility developments focus on training of suppliers, improving social conditions, buying from cooperatives and paying premiums, and working with certification programs (such as Fairtrade or other eco labels). Of course, all these initiatives create value through the supply chain, particularly for the smaller businesses and sole traders. Effective communication with stakeholders is a very important element of responsible business behavior. This contribution suggests that through stakeholder engagement, businesses are identifying emerging issues, shape their responses and continue to drive improvements in their financial performance.