The VRA is the New Big Thing in CSR report announcements. The first company to take advantage of this new service, the VideoReportAlert, offered by myself, together with CorporateRegister.com and 3BLMedia.com is Coca Cola Enterprises, the largest marketer, producer and distributor of Coca Cola products covering North America and Western Europe and selling 16% of Coca Cola volume worldwide. The Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) report is their fifth CRS report. Yes, I did say CRS and not CSR, because CCE use Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability to refer to their approach and program. (though in this blop I will continue to refer to CSR, just because that's what I am used to!) CCE announce their report in the traditional way with ReportAlert, the leading CSR/Sustainability announcement service via email, and also using a VRA we specially prepared for them. The VRA video covers the key highlights of the report, though only a fraction of what I wanted to tell you about this report, as we didn't want to make the video too long. (After all, it's not Shrek 5). (Actually, before editing it was 11.5 minutes, so highly-talented 3BLMedia video-editor Gretchen had to trim it quite a bit. I could have done a feature-length video of this report, as it is packed with interesting information, so cutting down to a digestible 7.5 minutes was a real stretch.) Take a look here and then read on for some more insights.
CCE serves 421 million people across 8 countries in North America and Western Europe, with more than 70,000 employees working at over 400 facilities. In 2009, CCE sold 41 billion bottles and cans of beverages generating $21.6 billion in revenues. This report represents the first year of CCE's reporting against Commitment 2020, their long range plan to achieve goals in five social and environment commitments. This is the most comprehensive and transparent summary of their CRS work to date. In addition to points made in the video, the out-takes include the fact that CCE is a champion of hybrid electric delivery vehicles, having increased their fleet on 2009 by 196 vehicles, and now operating 336 hybrids that deliver Coca Cola all around the country – and this is the largest fleet of hybrid heavy-duty vehicles in North America. CCE have worked on their water footprint, having reduced water consumption significantly, but also calculating their water footprint in a study of the amount of blue, green and grey and water used to produce and deliver a bottle of Coca-Cola in the Netherlands. If you don't know the difference between all these different colour waters, take a look at the CCE report. To explain the complex methodology, they have developed graphics that illustrate the amount and type of water used in each step of the process.
Another thing I refer to very briefly in the video is CCE's Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Action Week. This was a week packed with CSR activities designed to communicate CCE's CSR story, commitments, and goals to all employees and educate, inspire, involve and motivate them about the business, brands and CSR commitments of the Company. Employees and communities got involved in service projects, watched broadcasts of the Chairman and the CEO, John Brock, engaged in sustainability discussions, participated in virtual facility tours to see energy, waste and water sustainable practices. In Europe, there was a Carbon Challenge in which a group of employees measured and reduced their carbon footprint over a 4 week period and blogged about it, sharing tips for everyone. The power of digital communications and social media in advancing CSR clearly offers advantages. But the most significant thing from my perspective about this Action Week was that in a survey follow-up, 87% of employees said they knew more about CCE's CSR work, and 81% said they had a better understanding of what they could contribute to CCE achieving its 2020 commitments. It takes effort and investment to truly engage your employees. And with 70,000 people, and over 81% of them now confirming they will do more at CCE, it seems like this investment is worth the effort. I wish more Companies would be more proactive about engaging their employees - in fact, this is the subject of my book to be published in October and that won't be a minute too soon!(modestly:)).
As with any CR report, we want to know not only what the Company has done but also what the company will continue to do. Clearly, no Company can do everything all at once, and focus and prioritization is necessary. This report visibly demonstrates Coca-Cola Enterprises’ long range view, though it does lack a materiality analysis or details of how stakeholder feedback was processed overall to help create the five 2020 commitments. CCE does report having tested the materiality of these 5 focus areas which were found appropriate by stakeholders, and also specifically addresses stakeholder feedback received on the last report. CCE's 5 core commitments take them right through to 2020. There is still clearly a long way to go, but the information in this report shows that CCE is taking steps in the right direction.
CCE also produces several localized CSR reports as you can see here. I think it is important to ensure that local stakeholders in global or semi-global businesses can read about what affects them at local level.
In producing a VRA for any company, my focus is on announcing the highlights of the report, not providing a detailed professional critique or recommendations for improvement. There is ALWAYS something of value in ANY report, and I have no problem focusing on this value in order to help generate awareness and hopefully, encourage people to read and take interest. CCE's report is a GRI Level B and also serves as a UNGC Communication on Progress. My overall impression was that the report is comprehensive, clear, interesting and balanced. MBA students from Georgetown University review the report in draft and offer feedback to CCE, which is a great process which the Company has adopted now for the third year. However, this does not subsitute a formal assurance process and I think some form of external professional verification would strengthen credibility. It is true, that as most reports, this one does focus on all the positive things that CCE is doing, and it is hard to find content related to the challenges that CCE may not be adequately addressing, which is why external professional verification would help.
In addition, in this report, you can read about Plastic Fantastic with Carrefour, the Made in Wakefield campaign, the TMR process, the first global employee engagement survey, climate risks, zero accident rates in Pueblo Colorado, GLBT commitments, solar panels and pipes, motion sensors for equipment energy efficiency, levels of women in management (I ALWAYS look at that!) , Passport to Employment, Coachella LEED facility in California, how Peter Johnson at Sidcup saved 50 million liters of water and more and more. This really is an interesting report, and those of you who know me, will know that when I want to be critical, I don't hold back. But don't take my word for it, and don't hesitate to be proactive about telling CCE what YOU think.
elaine cohen is co-founder and co-CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at www.b-yond.biz/en