2017 Sustainability Report: Stakeholder Engagement

Engaging a diverse group of stakeholders over the long-term in constructive and open dialogue makes us a better company. Our business and operating environments are constantly evolving and it is essential that we understand relevant issues and get input to inform our decision making that helps make progress toward our sustainability goals.

Our Approach: An Ongoing Conversation, Continuous Improvement and Informed Action

We are committed to ongoing stakeholder engagement as a core component of our business and sustainability strategies, our annual reporting process, and our activities around the world. We view stakeholder engagement as continuous dialogue, rather than event-driven, that enables us to identify and address potential issues proactively and collaboratively.

As active members of the communities where we live and work, we are focused on creating shared opportunities as our business grows and doing so in the right way. We want to strengthen the fabric of our communities so that we can prosper together.

Our engagement approach is grounded in a set of core principles:

  • Transparency: Respect the diversity of views and values that stakeholders present, and work to engage openly providing with the information that they need to make a meaningful contribution to our decision-making processes and activities.
  • Inclusivity: Include a wide-range of stakeholders, especially those who are traditionally marginalized.
  • Consistency: Maintain regular and consistent communication to ensure continuity and meaningful engagement.
  • Accountability: Inform stakeholders of how their feedback influenced the outcome of a decision or business strategy.

Who and How We Engage

We engage with our many stakeholder groups in a variety of formal and informal settings across the entire Coca-Cola system. Our engagements range from meetings with local, regional and national groups to ongoing dialogues with our bottlers, suppliers and consumers. At an international level, we are involved in multi-stakeholder initiatives, such as the United Nations Global Compact and the World Economic Forum, so that we can address pressing global challenges. By proactively working together with external stakeholder partners, we are able to identify and address issues by bringing together the expertise, knowledge and passion of many organizations and individuals. This approach helps us achieve far greater positive impact on environmental, social and other issues than by working alone.

The variety of our stakeholders and the breadth of our reach means we engage in different ways. Below are examples of our key stakeholders and the ways in which we engage with them.

  • Bottling partners: day-to-day interaction, joint projects, joint business planning, functional groups on strategic issues, Top-to-Top senior management forum, Global Environment Council
  • Consumers: consumer surveys, plant tours, research, social media, focus groups hotlines
  • Customers: regular visits, dedicated account teams, joint business planning, joint value creation initiatives, customer care centers, social media engagement, surveys
  • Communities: community meetings, plant visits, partnerships on common issues, sponsorships, grantees, lectures at universities
  • Employees: employee engagement surveys, senior executive town halls and updates, webinars, frequent employee communications, business resource groups, health and safety communications programs, community and employee well-being programs, ethics hotline,
  • Governments and regulatory authorities: meetings and engagement through trade associations and chambers of commerce
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs): ongoing dialogue, partnerships with steering committees and routine meetings, stakeholder convenings, memberships of business and industry associations
  • Media: Direct inquiries, face-to-face meetings
  • Shareowners and analysts: Annual General Meeting quarterly earnings reports and webcasts, investor presentations and face-to-face meetings, investor conferences, quarterly shareowner newsletter, and ongoing dialogue with investors and analysts
  • Peers and Suppliers: joint value creation initiatives, supplier conferences, Supplier Guiding Principles, Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles, Consumer Goods Forum
  • Trade groups and industry and policy organizations: industry collaborations, joint initiatives, ongoing dialogue, policy engagement activities. Learn more about:

Engagement Mechanisms and Outcomes

We apply a partnership approach to stakeholder engagement, spanning the public, private and civil society sectors. We embrace the idea that collaborative partnerships can achieve much greater collective impact than would be possible by any one organization or sector working in isolation. This approach to community engagement is embedded in The Coca-Cola Company’s history and culture beginning with such partnerships as the United Way (1914), American Red Cross (1917) and Boys and Girls Club (1947).

Today, we are proud to partner and engage with numerous organizations across our sustainability goals of water stewardship, women’s economic empowerment, World Without Waste, sustainable agriculture, climate, and human rights.

Our efforts to build shared opportunities for communities can be successful only if they involve collaboration with local stakeholders. In the area of water stewardship, as our bottling partners implement their source water protection plans (SWPPs), they engage local stakeholders and collaborate on solutions that serve local communities and ecosystems as well as our business. Learn more about our featured partnerships and stakeholder engagements around water stewardship.

Dialogue with a wide range of external stakeholders is critical to respecting human rights and helping to ensure informed action on relevant issues. In 2016-17, we proactively engaged more than 180 experts conducting workshops around the world to identify potential “impacts to people” associated with the company’s activities and business relationships. These engagements formed the basis of our updated human rights policy. Read more about our stakeholder engagement work and through our first-ever Human Rights report.

As we developed our World Without Waste initiative, we directly engaged over a dozen external stakeholders and experts in that process to understand the key dimensions of the plastic waste challenge and how Coca-Cola’s strategy could best address. These stakeholders helped to shape our approach and we have continued to engage external stakeholders around implementation, and in particular on the development of our World Without Waste metrics.

Given the acuteness of the plastic waste problem In the Asia Pacific region, we worked with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) to host a stakeholder convening in 2018 with leading experts across the private sector, NGO and government to develop practical solutions to address the waste issue. Click here for BSR’s summary report.

We see beneficial synergy between our evolving sustainability reporting and stakeholder engagement processes. Our development of goals and strategies will continue to benefit from collaborative conversations with our stakeholders and the evolving disclosure landscape. Additionally, once our reports are published, we listen carefully to stakeholders’ feedback about where more clarification and explanation are desired within our disclosure topics.

We Want to Hear From You

We set high standards for transparency and corporate citizenship, and work hard to live up to our stakeholders’ expectations. Comments, suggestions and critiques on our sustainability practices and reporting are welcome. Please send us a message via our virtual agent on the Contact Us page of Coca-Cola Journey.

As first appeared in https://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/stakeholder-engagement , Aug 2018