Today we launched a Corporate Responsibility Progress Report for 2011, following a digital publication of the report which you can read in full here. I would like to share with you some significant points of progress as well as challenges involved in realizing the social goals we set in each category: Business Environment, Work Environment, Social Investment and community Involvement and Environmental Protection.
The publication of a report on corporate social responsibility by Strauss in a year of socio-economic public protest, cannot be an easy task. The past year was characterized by a social protest demanding different conduct from companies and businesses. As a company that has been reporting on its progress in the field of corporate responsibility for five consecutive years, we were faced with a dilemma: Should we report and share, or perhaps avoid publicity altogether without even mentioning the existence of a dialogue with consumers?
We feel that even if our work is not done yet, this report serves first and foremost as a tool for us to improve our activities, to help us measure our progress, set goals and work toward their achievement. It also forms the foundation of our dialogue vis á vis stakeholders expectations. All these considerations finally led us to the decision to report, share, and communicate data, and hence we are today unveiling our public report to the general public …
Corporate Responsibility – a topic that draws quite a bit of cynicism – is, as mentioned above, one of the most challenging areas of modern corporate management in this day and age, the age of informed consumers. Consumers say, and rightly so: First do what you were meant to do, and don’t confuse us with irrelevant stories. This is true to a large extent, and we have been doing just that at Strauss for many years, working constantly to improve our products and our practices.
In the new Corporate Responsibility Report, which monitors our CR progress in 2011, you will find extensive reference to our business environment. One of the issues we were most preoccupied with over the past year was the desire to improve consumers’ quality of life via our products. To this end, in 2011 we continued to improve the nutritional value of our products and increased the range offered to consumers, with an emphasis placed on optimum nutritional values.
In the chapter about our business environment at Strauss, we put the spotlight on efforts made to promote diverse populations within Strauss in general, and promoting women to management positions in particular. Group President & CEO, Gadi Lesin, set an ambitious goal of having an equal number of men and women in management positions at Strauss by 2015. Ambitious as it may seem to many, the truth is that like every difficult thing in life, if you don’t set tough goals and begin to “work at them”, the needle will not move. I will be happy to update you throughout this year and in the years ahead, about progress made toward realization of this goal.
In the field of social investment and community involvement, we undertook to advance a cause that not many business companies embrace, because it is not considered overly communicative. But to us it was important, and fell right in line with our business core. Two years ago we decided to focus all our social investment resources – money, product donations and employee volunteer work – on promoting diverse populations with an emphasis on employment. We believe that this issue, complex and challenging as it may be, is most appropriate for us as a business group whose employees and consumers, businesses and products, and partners and suppliers, are all diverse. We believe that the same populations we help advance today, will return to us as employees one day, and help us become a better company.
In the field of environmental quality, we continue to present improvements year by year. Despite the fact that this is a very measurable field with universal parameters and indicators, our group structure poses challenges when we apply a uniform environmental management system across our global businesses. Therefore, this year we are pleased and proud to be able to report that our international coffee company, which accounts for almost 50% of Group businesses, has set significant five-year environmental goals in the fields of waste, water, greenhouse gas emissions and more.
Facing the Future
As in life, the road to the achievement of goals in corporate responsibility is challenging and quite complex too, but despite the difficulties, it is important to mark clear goals and strive for them, without giving up and despair.
In conclusion, I can say that this year in particular we gained clearer appreciation of the issues substantial to us as a business firm engaged in manufacturing food and beverages around the world (relationship with our suppliers, expectations of our consumers, the quality of our products, nurturing our employees and more). These are the issues we should focus on and work tirelessly to improve. We are still faced with a long journey, and every year we make sure to set more significant, measurable and challenging goals. In that spirit, we will continue to do the same next year as well.