What makes a sustainability leader? Meet sustainability reporting champions Nestle
With edie's 2022 Sustainability Leaders Awards ceremony on the horizon, this series showcases the achievements of previous winners and reveals their secrets to success. Up next: Winner of our Sustainability Reporting & Communications Award, Nestle.
Nestle won this award for its 2019 Tackling Child Labour report, made as part of its Nestle Cocoa Plan (NCP) initiative.
Child labour is a long-standing, complex issue of serious concern to all stakeholders in confectionery. Nestlé launched the industry’s first Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in 2012. The business was also the first to produce a specific ‘Tackling Child Labour’ report in 2017. The 2019 iteration of the report was widely acclaimed for its honesty, depth, and volume of disclosed data. The supporting web content, blogs, videos, and photography continue to give stakeholders unprecedented insight into the issue.
The content is divided into the main Tackling Child Labour Report and a dedicated section of the NCP website. At just under 80 pages, the 2019 Tackling Child Labour Report is the most comprehensive of its kind and is available in English and French. It includes analysis of Nestlé’s impact, remediation activities and groundbreaking data on the root causes of child labour in cocoa.
It also offers data-backed insight into the role of education in eradicating child labour – and the challenges of providing access. The report tackles the issue of living incomes in cocoa farming communities, offers an overview of the challenges the NCP faces and offers outside perspectives from leading independent cocoa academics and researchers.
The website, meanwhile, provides videos, animations, photography, case studies and blogs which are regularly updated.
With Nestlé committing to source 100% of its cocoa through the NCP by 2025, the Tackling Child Labour Report demonstrates the inherent operational urgency and importance of the CLMRS as part of achieving sustainable cocoa within that timeframe. The Report also demonstrates how the CLMRS aligns with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
While the content of the report was not subject to third-party validation, all CLRMRS data comes from the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) an independent NGO, and implementation partner. All other key data is taken from public sources and fully referenced.
The report was lauded for its transparency. Data includes full disclosures on the number of children found actively participating in child labour, the total number of children monitored, the number and type of interventions offered and – in an industry first – the success rate of each type of intervention. No other company in the sector has provided this degree of insight.
As this was a single-issue report, the impacts are tightly focused on remediation activities designed to prevent child labour. Topics such as improved educational access and outcomes for children, women’s empowerment, improving farm finances, farmer education and better farming practices are presented in appropriate chapters and case studies. The global impact of the CLMRS (scale, reach, effectiveness, and so on) is presented in a specific chapter.
Upon publication, the report had 9.3 million impressions on social media and 58,500 engagements. Moreover, 19,000 Nestle employees watched at least one Tackling Child Labour video. 273,796 social media impressions resulted from employees sharing the content, and 486 media articles and posts were generated.
Although this is a single-issue report, it is as detailed as some full sustainability reports. At the same time, the tone and look and feel of the report leave behind the dry approach typical in many corporate sustainability documents. This is important because it makes the report far more approachable and consumable to a wider stakeholder audience.
The report was also innovative for its honesty – not in terms of the facts and figures, where honesty is expected, but in the no-holds-barred discussions around the challenges faced by the CLMRS. The report talks about its failures as much as its successes in the hope that others may learn lessons that speed their own sustainability efforts in this area. Moreover, on the creative front, it is also honest in the sense of being authentic. The reporting team (including the creative team of designers, videographers, photographers and writers) were sent to the field in Ivory Coast. They spoke to the actual children and their parents, saw the villages, fields, schools and landscapes that they were reporting on. They witnessed the remediation efforts – the successes and the shortcomings. The greater nuance and authenticity that this resulted in is clearly visible, weaved throughout the entire report.
The report was successful before it was even published with the draft version helping to convince the company leadership to commit to sourcing 100% of its cocoa through the NCP by 2025.
What edie’s judges said: “Nestle’s report was a compelling, data-based and comprehensive insight into the topic of child labour in supply chains – something that most of us do not know enough about. This well-written report reflects how corporations have the power to drive meaningful social responsibility initiatives and to take accountability.”
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