Janet Voute, who heads up the company’s Creating Shared Value initiative is responsible for managing relationships with key external stakeholders across the business and believes that there is much to be gained from such alliances – but only if all parties commit to an open dialogue. 

Speaking at an Ethical Corporation webinar on sustainable communications this week, she said: “When you are transparent and share your commitments and the challenges you face in achieving those commitments, then you remove barriers.” 

As a starting point to building trust, Voute advised companies to not only report on what they have already done, but what they intend to do. She added that for Nestle, key stakeholders have an important input into the company’s material and brand issues. 

“The only way to build an authentic dialogue with your customers and consumers is to look at your company internally and define where it can create shared value,” she said, adding that this required businesses to take a multi-tiered strategic approach to sustainability communications so as not to isolate it to just one department or division. 

Looking ahead, Voute said one of the biggest challenges going forward for brands like Nestle was making shared value business issues resonate with traditional investors. 

“Today you see interest in creating value within the socially responsible investment community …. I look forward to the day when mainstream investors are equally interested in this approach to business.” 

Maxine Perella

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