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Social Responsibility Reports

Managing Corporate Social Responsibility
Heineken Sub-Sahara Africa signs up its Managers as trainers in its CSR principles

A survey by Stanford Graduate School of Business found that 77% of MBA students from European and American business schools were willing to trade up to 14% of their income to work for a company with a better reputation for social responsibility and ethics.

For companies operating in developing countries, the business case for becoming more ethically and socially responsible is even more pressing and, in particular, for those enterprises whose products are deemed by some to be controversial.

ImageAdopting and implementing effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies is critical to managing risk and to doing business successfully.  In view of the negative impact that poor business ethics and practices in one region can have on an entire corporation, the urgency and importance of widespread awareness raising and internal training cannot be underestimated.

Heineken International, in common with a number of multinational companies, has a range of policies in place to ensure that it conducts its business as a responsible corporate citizen.  The company has taken steps in the past to highlight the importance to the business of ethical practices, and they have been largely successful in implementing internal policies in relation to the prevention of alcohol misuse.  Unlike other companies, however, Heineken has recently taken further action to ensure that treatment of this topic is not just a series of statements on its corporate website, but is actively embedded into the day-to-day business practices of its operating companies.

With the recent appointment of a CSR Manager for Sub-Sahara Africa, Heineken has embarked on a project to ensure that its global policies are adapted for use in these markets and that these policies are made known to all relevant staff. 

While there are at least 20 different subject areas relating to social responsibility, working in collaboration with Interims for Development, Heineken has placed its initial focus on internally communicating its policies on alcohol, business conduct, conflict of interest and fraud reporting. The project entailed a comprehensive training workshop, developed by Interims for Development to provide training to Heineken managers from across a number of its Sub-Sahara African operating companies, who have now been given responsibility for delivering training within their individual companies. 

The CSR workshops, delivered in English and French in Nigeria and Congo-Brazzaville by Vince Owen of Interims for Development,included a 2-day Train the Trainers component to enable line managers to effectively deliver the company’s CSR message to all staff.  Participants included Managers and staff from Nigeria, Sierra Leone, DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Burundi and Reunion, with further Workshops planned for 2005.

‘Interim Developments’ spoke to Victor Famuyibo, CSR Manager for Heineken Sub-Sahara, about the company’s approach to CSR.

ID:      What are the key challenges in ensuring that CSR principles are not just for public relations but are known and understood by your employees?

VF:      At Heineken, corporate social responsibility goes beyond company reputation, image or public relations. It is more about the fundamental values, beliefs and culture of the company.  The main challenge, therefore, is ensuring that all employees of Heineken have a good understanding of the Heineken values and business principles. Next to this, we should be able to communicate continuously with our employees to update them on our CSR policies and any changes that may arise from time to time.

Through continuous training and education, we hope ultimately to achieve a common understanding of our shared values and fundamental principles.

ID:      Why has Heineken taken such a lead position in ensuring that its CSR principles are embedded in its African business operations?

VF:      Heineken has a long history in Africa – more than 70 years - and our operations on the continent are a major priority for the company. Currently, Heineken has brewing and soft drinks plants in Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo Brazzaville, DRC and Sierra-Leone. In addition, through various joint ventures and licence operations, Heineken maintains a significant presence in South Africa, Namibia, Cameroon and many other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa.

“Heineken is part of the development of Africa. We know that forging long-term partnerships with governments, civil society and other key economic players is a sustainable approach to doing business, not only in Africa but also anywhere in the world.”

A fairly large number of local people are employed, directly by Heineken or indirectly within the extensive supply chain network of the operating companies. Apart from generating employment and helping to stimulate the local economies, Heineken operating companies assist the local communities with numerous development initiatives.  Heineken is part of the development of Africa. We know that forging long-term partnerships with governments, civil society and other key economic players is a sustainable approach to doing business, not only in Africa but also anywhere in the world.

ID:      How are you ensuring that your African markets take ownership of this approach to understanding and applying CSR principles?

VF:      We realise that our role is not simply that of a world leading brewer and distributor, but also a corporate citizen with an important role to play in supporting local communities and the wider social fabric. We have strict corporate rules, guidelines and policies on diverse corporate social responsibility issues. All our operating companies worldwide, including our African operating companies, are obliged to implement these corporate guidelines and policies after adapting them to suit their local operating environment. We grant no exceptions to the rule.

To ensure compliance and uniformity, we carry out regular annual surveys of CSR performance in our operations worldwide and every year, we employ the services of external sustainability auditors to audit selected companies within the Heineken Group.”

By involving line managers as well as senior management in the region with this project, Heineken has built successfully on its previous initiatives in this area and is effecting a permanent shift in understanding and applying CSR in the workplace.

Corporate responsibility is increasingly influencing where and with whom major multinational corporations do business, reveals a new report, "Race to the Top - Attracting and Enabling Global Sustainable Business"

Over 100 multinational enterprises participated in the project, which was commissioned by the World Bank Group to evaluate whether corporate social responsibility affects the international investment and purchasing decisions of the largest companies in the world. The study was jointly conducted by PELC, a New York-based firm, and by Ethical Corporation magazine, the London-based corporate social responsibility publication.

 "Many global companies have made a commitment to creating lasting social and economic value in their host communities," said Jonathan Berman, PELC's president, who directed the study. "This study clearly indicates that their investment and purchase decisions are now being influenced by where they can meet those commitments."

The report reveals that:
  • 88% of participating companies report that CSR factors are of greater influence in determining where they source and invest than such factors were five years ago. Of these, more than half report that CSR factors are "much more influential" than they were five years ago.
  • 52% have chosen one developing-country partner over another on the basis of their CSR policies.
  • Investment in CSR, over the past five years, has increased in terms of staff (74%), budget (72%) and top executive time (68%)

"This report is a landmark in corporate social responsibility, both for its form and contents," said Tobias Webb, Ethical Corporation's Editor-in-Chief. "In an arena filled with anecdotal and speculative evidence, Race to the Top delivers quantitative information never before gathered."

More information on the study can be found at www.ethicalcorporation.com.

“Corporate citizenship concerns investment in communities…wherever we operate.  Our reasoning is that business is a continuing activity, not just for today, but for years to come (and) we have a direct long-term interest in their successful development.”

Sir John Brown, BP plc

Is your company seeking ways of enhancing its corporate social responsibility initiatives in Africa?  Contact: www.interimsfd.coml

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