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Facilitating Stakeholder Dialogue at Nestlé

Nestlé is a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness and is committed to creating shared value not just for its business but for society.

Key to achieving this is building and maintaining effective dialogue with stakeholders. One of the ways Nestlé accomplishes this is through a series of global stakeholder convenings.

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The purpose of the convenings is for stakeholders to better understand the work that Nestlé is already doing and for Nestlé to hear from their stakeholders what should be prioritised, what is missing and what the company needs to be doing better.

SustainAbility has managed and facilitated Nestlé’s global stakeholder convenings since 2012. Working with the Nestlé team, we help identify stakeholders with expertise in issues specific to the company’s value chain and the five ‘Creating Shared Value’ issue areas under which Nestlé has made 38 public commitments.

Building trust

The outputs from the convenings are fed back to senior management and taken into account during the strategic development of Nestlé’s policies and action plans. The convenings have been attended by the company’s most senior executives including Chairman, Peter Brabeck and CEO Paul Bulcke. This engagement has helped senior Nestlé leaders better understand the needs and expectations of their stakeholders.

“Our stakeholder convenings are about building that fundamental understanding of issues and enabling collective action and they have a by-product, which is a clear improvement in levels of trust, respect and reputation.”

Janet Voûte, Global Head of Public Affairs, Nestlé S.A.

The events themselves also give Nestlé the opportunity to build relationships with key stakeholders: experts from organisations such as NGOs, think tanks, academia, multilaterals, government, foundations, faith groups and certification bodies; relationships that have in turn led to partnerships and multi-stakeholder collaborations.

Ensuring all voices are heard

As independent facilitators, we manage the communication process with stakeholders, speaking with them to understand the priority issues they wish to discuss; gathering information around the hot topics and communicating their expectations to the Nestlé Public Affairs team. We also provide support in the preparation of presentations and pre-read material.
On the day, we facilitate plenary and breakout sessions along with a dinner for all attendees. Our overarching role is to create a safe, trusting environment for honest dialogue. We try to ensure that all voices are heard and that Nestlé has an accurate, independent record of the conversations held and a summary of stakeholders’ opinions and feedback.

Acting on feedback

The convenings have proved to be a powerful driver for change at Nestlé. Stakeholder feedback at the convenings has helped shape a number of Nestlé’s initiatives such as the Cocoa Plan and Rural Development Framework. It has also supported action in specific areas such as gender equity in the supply chain.

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