The Watercooler Industry and Corporate Social Responsibility

July 9, 2012

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), sometimes also referred to as good corporate citizenship, is a term describing actions through which companies aim at ‘giving back’ to society, having received societal license to operate and run their businesses profitably. Operating the business fully in line with all applicable laws and regulations is regularly considered a key part of CSR.

Wikipedia defines CSR as a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. A CSR policy functions as a built-in mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its compliance with both the letter and spirit of the law, ethical standards and international norms. CSR aims at encouraging a positive impact through actions relating for example to the environment, employees, consumers, communities, the general public and other stake holders on which the actions of a company have an impact.

CSR has been growing in importance over the past years, hand in hand with increasing environmental concerns worldwide and the growing focus on sustainable business practices. While all businesses may not yet have integrated CSR into their overall business strategy, companies in the water cooler industry pay a lot of attention to this activity area. As a result, many related initiatives have been and are being developed both within the industry and by individual companies.

Eden Springs, Nestlé and Angel Springs are some of the European Water Cooler industry members that focus on CSR and related actions, investing in social responsibility and good corporate citizenship. Below we take a look at some of their approaches.

With its 2011 Creating Shared Value (CSV) report Nestlé aims at transparency regarding the long-term societal impact of its activities, showing how these are intrinsically linked to the company’s long-term business success.

The CSV report notes that “For a company to be successful in the long term and to create value for its shareholders, it must also create value for society. We call this Creating Shared Value (CSV). It encourages businesses to simultaneously create economic and social value by focusing on the social issues that they are uniquely capable of addressing.” In the report Nestlé outlines challenges and progress made in key CSV focus areas – nutrition, water and rural development – as well as its performance in environmental sustainability and compliance. Nestlé's reporting also covers human rights, diversity, climate change, biodiversity and corruption. The company has reported to GRI A+ level which is the maximum Report Application Level. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a non-profit organization that promotes economic, environmental and social sustainability providing all companies with a comprehensive sustainability reporting framework and enabling them to measure and report their sustainability performance. In doing so, Nestlé is the first global food company to submit its global report

Eden Springs divides its CSR efforts into sustainability, charity projects, community care and well-being at work, aiming at giving back to society and/or employees in each of these areas. In its approach to community care specifically, the company encourages its markets to support and help local projects, to build relationships of trust with diverse local players.

For example, as part of Eden Springs’ community care work, the company is an official supporter of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a UK charity whose mission is to raise funds, educate, and support teenagers fighting cancer. In Sweden, the company has, for the past three years, been an official supporter of Noll-tolerans mot mobbning (zero tolerance against bullying in schools) organization, whose mission is to remove all kinds of bullying in schools. Since 2007, Eden France (Chateau d'eau) has partnered  with Solidarités, an NGO helping people in war and conflict areas, as well as during natural disasters. For each new cooler installation made by Chateau d’eau, 1€ is given to the organisation.

UK based Angel Springs also places a lot of emphasis on working closely with the local community where it operates.Angel Springs has a long and productive relationship with many local charities and those in the surrounding areas, and it regularly takes part in CSR activities ranging from environmental protection to donations, charitable fund raising and raising awareness of important ethical issues. Charities with whom Angel Springs work include, among others, Wolverhampton's Compton Hospice, County Air Ambulance Trust, the Overgate Hospice, Teckles Animal Sanctuaries and the Cure Leukemia charity.

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