Public policy and advocacy

Companies are playing an increasingly active role in society, including in the development of laws, rules and policy documents. Today, businesses (including Nestlé) are often expected and asked to participate in such activities. Providing our expertise to assist more informed decision-making, in a collaborative environment with governments, authorities and other relevant bodies, is therefore an important responsibility. We have procedures in place that support consistent transparent interaction, and ensure that engagement is carried out professionally and with high standards. Our policies, documents and reports are publicly available online, and we also publish our positions on key issues on our website (Ask Nestlé).

Committed to transparency

Transparency underpins our engagement process. It provides the basis for deeper dialogue, which in turn builds knowledge and understanding. We outline our expectations with employees through the Nestlé Policy on transparent interaction with authorities and organisations, and we provide training for all country-level Nestlé staff, including Human Resources, Legal, Operations and Public Affairs. In Europe, Nestlé is listed in the European Union Transparency Register, which gives everyone direct access to information about who is engaging with decision-makers. We follow the register’s code of conduct. In the USA, we file quarterly public reports outlining our engagement activities with the US Congress. We also operate an online external grievance system called ‘Tell Us’, which enables stakeholders to raise their concerns directly.

Nestlé’s industry affairs guidelines

Due to the size and diversity of our business, we are involved in many industry organisations and trade associations at all levels. These efforts require expertise, resources, coordination and alignment across our business. Last year, we implemented internal guidelines to help markets manage these relationships, in alignment with our corporate strategy. They contain a structured approach and recommendations for participating in industry and trade associations, helping our employees to:

  • Understand the association landscape;
  • Set priorities and select the relevant industry associations; and
  • Develop rules of engagement with industry associations.

There are two notable instances where the guidelines have already helped us. In Latin America, the consumer goods industry is seeking to develop an industry vision for the region. The vision articulated is to enhance the industry standards and practices, enable a sustainable value chain efficiency, including a social agenda, and lead positive collective action and outcomes for consumers and local communities. The guidelines have helped our Latin American markets participate with ‘one voice’ in this regional agenda.

The guidelines also encourage effective priority-setting. At Nestlé USA, a new process has been introduced to prepare a CEO briefing paper for meetings with organisations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association. This allows the local team to collate relevant matters, consider them and put them forward together, ensuring nothing is missed.