For a global leader like Nestlé, with operations in 197 countries, over 300,000 direct employees and a heritage stretching back nearly 150 years, understanding what matters most to its stakeholders is vital.
SustainAbility has worked with Nestlé since the publication of their first Creating Shared Value report in 2007. Last year, Nestlé asked us to help review the materiality process which we had carried out with it for several years.
Applying a methodology that allowed us to measure stakeholder concern and business impact with far greater precision, we broadened the sample of stakeholders to include the interests and priorities of NGOs, multilaterals, governments, consumer organizations and socially responsible investors (SRIs).
Mapping the value chain
With our help, Nestlé has, for the first time, been able to map material issues along the breadth of the value chain. From small-holder farmers to consumers, the process allows the company to focus their monitoring and reporting efforts at those key stages where there is greatest potential for impact.
In adopting a value chain lens as part of the materiality process, Nestlé was able to reflect upon the growing importance of risks and opportunities such as climate change, animal welfare and natural capital. As a result of the assessment, all of Nestlé’s material issues were reviewed and some were reframed to reflect the evolving priorities of stakeholders and the business. The results of this materiality process supported the addition of food waste to Nestlé’s list of 38 public commitments.
The materiality analysis ensured that the 2014 Creating Shared Value report, which aligns to the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 comprehensive requirements, was steered by the needs of global stakeholders.
This commitment to materiality and to understanding the issues across the breadth of the value chain strengthens Nestlé’s position and ensures that the company’s actions are highly visible and transparent. In turn, this helps Nestlé connect with its key stakeholders and build trust.