Nestlé proves CSR can give your company a “Good Life”

Have you ever wondered where your coffee comes from? (Picture courtesy of Nestlé)

Have you ever wondered where your coffee comes from? (Picture courtesy of Nestlé)

Have you noticed that more and more people seem to be walking around carrying cups of coffee in their hands? Whether they’ve stopped by Starbucks, their local cafe or have made it at home, coffee cups seem to have become the ultimate accessory for both men and women.

I don’t know whether this is due to the fact that people lead such hectic lives that they just don’t have time to sit down for their coffee, or whether they are drinking more of it than they used to. What statistics do show, however, is that there is a good chance that the coffee they’re drinking is made by Nestlé, as 5,500 cups of Nescafé alone are drunk every second.

As the world’s leading nutrition, health and wellness company, Nestlé’s motto of “Good Food, Good Life” has lead them to be one of the world’s most profitable corporations. However, things weren’t always so good.

Since the 1970’s, Nestlé has faced widespread criticism regarding its baby formula marketing techniques, its demands on Ethiopia’s debt payment, the presence of melamine in its products in China, its use of palm oil in some of its products, the use of child labour on some of its plantations and most recently in connection with the horsemeat scandal. What’s interesting though is that through its CSR programs, Nestlé has proactively addressed and resolved most of its reputational issues, becoming one of the world’s most admired companies.

Can its programs be considered a form of Greenwashing? Maybe so, but they have lead Nestlé to achieve an A+ rating from the Global Reporting Initiative for its global annual report on Creating Shared Value, which provided new data on human rights, diversity and gender, climate change, biodiversity and   corruption.

By focusing on matters such as environmental and water sustainability, rural development and nutrition, Nestlé has begun to turn the tables and is in the process of becoming a socially responsible corporation. The company hasn’t faced any major reputational issues on a corporate level since 2010, general sentiment towards it is positive, and its number of followers is growing steadily.

Life is good… but as any major corporation knows, it could be better. This is why Nestlé has devised a plan which includes a series of goals to be reached by 2020. The question is, how will they show people, consumers in particular, all that it’s doing? And more importantly, is the company really becoming more responsible or are its Creating Shared Value programs just a facade? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, let’s have a cup of coffee. But this time, instead of running around like mad people with cups in our hands, let’s enjoy it while we reflect on how exactly it has gotten into our cups.

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