Insight: The challenges of achieving greater transparency

Apr 12, 2012
Janet Voute

By Janet Voûte

At Nestlé we believe that actions speak louder than words. We have to deliver what we promise. We have to be transparent if we are to persuade our stakeholders, our partners, and our critics, that we are building our business in a long term, sustainable way.


Significant step

This month we've achieved a significant step towards greater transparency, meeting the A+ requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) for our annual report on Creating Shared Value. The GRI is the leading organisation in the field of non-financial reporting. It’s a non-profit organisation that promotes economic sustainability. It sets the standard for this kind of reporting and it’s tough. We are the first global food company to achieve A+ for a global sustainability report.


Creating value

So what does this mean? Take a look at our Creating Shared Value Report (pdf, 3 Mb). At Nestlé we believe that for a business to be successful over the long term it must create value for society as well as for its shareholders. We call this Creating Shared Value or CSV.


More responsive

This year’s report is more comprehensive than ever. You can find information about areas we have never reported on in detail before. Reporting to GRI A+ standard required us to work hard throughout the company to collect new data on issues like human rights, diversity and gender, climate change, biodiversity and corruption. That data is published in the report, and will be added to each year as we move forward, meaning you will be able to benchmark how we are doing in these and other areas.

Of course this wasn’t easy. It took a huge amount of time and effort to do properly. But again, let me stress, it is vital that we are transparent if we are to live up to the expectations of our stakeholders. Creating Shared Value isn’t public relations or greenwash. It is central to what we do.


Opens in a new window: YouTube IT'S THE FUTURE: This short video graphic illustrates the potential of Creating Shared Value.

Around the globe

This video (left), from the consulting firm run by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer, the two ‘architects’ of CSV, neatly encapsulates what it’s all about. At Nestlé we’ve embedded CSV in our core business strategies. But most importantly we implement it, wherever we do business around the globe.

We are training the farmers who supply us, helping them to become more productive, and to make their communities sustainable. In more than 60 countries, our Healthy Kids programmes teach basic nutrition and promote physical activity. We are producing affordable micronutrient fortified products for markets where there’s a need for them. Throughout the world we are producing more products while reducing the amount of water we use. CSV is real at Nestlé and our employees are making it happen.


Our responsibility

We will never satisfy all our critics but I hope meeting the GRI A+ reporting requirements shows that we do take seriously our responsibility to create shared value and conduct our business in a sustainable way. Our report gives you the information you need to measure us against that standard. The work on preparation for next year’s CSV report is already underway and we are already looking at how we can make our reporting even better.


Janet Voûte is Nestlé's Global Head of Public Affairs.

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