How hu­man re­sources are chang­ing busi­ness cul­ture

Business First - - FRONT PAGE -

Work­ing in the area of Cor­po­rate Re­spon­si­bil­ity at Coca-Cola is my job, but I have found many times over the years that it is re­ally so much more than a job. Pic­ture an early morn­ing footy train­ing ses­sion with a group of high school stu­dents from Clon­tarf Foun­da­tion’s Alice Springs Academy. I was along for the ride as we had re­cently pro­vided some fund­ing to help Clon­tarf with their work with young Abo­rig­i­nal men to im­prove their ed­u­ca­tion, life skills, self-es­teem and em­ploy­ment prospects. As we piled out of the school bus in the frosty early morn­ing cold of an Alice Springs win­ter, one of the stu­dents asked if I’d like to train with them. That frosty field made for a slip­pery ball and some but­ter fin­gers on my part. De­spite my ob­vi­ous lack of AFL skills, the stu­dents went out of their way to help me learn to play. Yes, they were help­ing me and not the other way around.

We rounded out an en­er­getic morn­ing by shar­ing break­fast to­gether af­ter train­ing and it struck me how all of us have the abil­ity whether as com­pa­nies or in­di­vid­u­als to make a real dif­fer­ence. I learned an im­por­tant les­son that day.

In a nice clo­sure to that loop, some of the stu­dents I vis­ited in Alice Springs came to our North Syd­ney HQ sev­eral years later, im­me­di­ately af­ter they’d re­ceived their High School Cer­tifi­cates. It was won­der­ful to see them grad­u­at­ing, hear about their ex­cit­ing plans for the fu­ture and to know that our Coca-Cola Foun­da­tion had played a small part along with many, many oth­ers, in help­ing them stay in school and achieve their goals.

For busi­nesses to­day, suc­cess­ful cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity (CR) is no longer as sim­ple as do­nat­ing funds to the first wor­thy cause that comes along. At Coca-Cola, we mea­sure suc­cess­ful CR ini­tia­tives not only by their abil­ity to make a dif­fer­ence but also by their ca­pac­ity to es­tab­lish a last­ing legacy of pos­i­tive change.

Glob­ally, we’ve cho­sen to fo­cus on three ar­eas of fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance to our busi­ness - the ‘ Three Ws’ - women, wa­ter and well­be­ing.

The first step in bring­ing to life a suc­cess­ful CR ini­tia­tive is se­lect­ing the right part­ners. At Coca-Cola we have de­vel­oped a sus­tain­abil­ity frame­work called ‘Me, We, World’, which is our shared vi­sion for how we can work to­gether to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence for the con­sumers and com­mu­ni­ties we serve.

‘Me’ fo­cuses on en­hanc­ing per­sonal well­be­ing, ‘We’ is about build­ing stronger com­mu­ni­ties and ‘World’ speaks to our com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. By se­lect­ing part­ners and CR projects that fit within this frame­work we can en­sure that our ef­forts are more im­pact­ful, as they are all fo­cused in the same key ar­eas.

Another crit­i­cal fac­tor con­tribut­ing to the suc­cess of a CR pro­ject is the in­volve­ment of a wide range of stake­hold­ers. From staff at Coca-Cola, to cus­tomers, con­sumers, non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions, gov­ern­ments and not-for-profit part­ners, a CR ini­tia­tive must have sup­port and the sus­tained en­gage­ment of ev­ery­one in­volved to be truly suc­cess­ful in de­liv­er­ing last­ing pos­i­tive change.

By un­lock­ing this col­lab­o­ra­tive power we call the ‘Golden Tri­an­gle’ of busi­ness, gov­ern­ment and civil so­ci­ety, we can make a much greater, and longer last­ing im­pact than any one or­gan­i­sa­tion, or even sec­tor could hope to achieve on its own.

One ex­am­ple of a highly suc­cess­ful well­be­ing CR ini­tia­tive de­liv­ered by the Coca-Cola Aus­tralia Foun­da­tion is our Hap­pi­ness Cy­cle pro­ject, in part­ner­ship with the Bi­cy­cle Net­work. The pro­gram is de­signed to en­cour­age teens to be more ac­tive while learn­ing ba­sic rid­ing skills and road safety rules. As a re­sult of the com­mu­nity-based cy­cling pro­gram over 4,500 bikes have been gifted to young Aus­tralians liv­ing in 27 dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try through­out 2014.

Another note­wor­thy ex­am­ple is Pro­ject Cat­a­lyst, which aims to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of su­gar­cane pro­duc­tion on the Great Bar­rier Reef.

The ini­tia­tive is col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween North Queens­land sugar cane grow­ers, Coca-Cola, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment groups Reef Catch­ments, Ter­rain, NQ Dry Trop­ics and the Aus­tralian

gov­ern­ment. It in­volves a group of 70 sugar cane grow­ers de­vel­op­ing and test­ing in­no­va­tive prac­tices to re­duce the en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print of sugar cane farm­ing and im­prove the qual­ity of the wa­ter runoff in the Great Bar­rier Reef Catch­ments.

If there is a Pro­ject I will look back on and say I was proud to be a part of that – Pro­ject Cat­a­lyst will be it. It is in­spir­ing to col­lab­o­rate with such a di­verse range of stake­hold­ers, to share a com­mon goal of help­ing pre­serve one of Aus­tralia and the world’s great­est trea­sures and to see the pos­i­tive re­sults that come from con­crete ac­tions un­der­taken to­gether. The sugar cane grow­ers in­volved don’t have to take part, they don’t get paid any more for their sugar cane. They vol­un­teer be­cause they know any im­prove­ments in wa­ter qual­ity they are achiev­ing will make a dif­fer­ence to the pre­cious marine en­vi­ron­ment that is down­stream from their farms.

At Coke the wa­ter qual­ity im­prove­ments re­sult­ing from our sup­port of Pro­ject Cat­a­lyst con­trib­ute to ful­fill­ing a key com­mit­ment within our ‘world’ pil­lar. We aim to bal­ance the wa­ter we use by 2020 by re­turn­ing to com­mu­ni­ties and na­ture an amount of wa­ter equal to that used in our bev­er­ages and their pro­duc­tion. Thanks to Pro­ject Cat­a­lyst we are cur­rently on track to achieve this wa­ter re­lated goal in Aus­tralia.

The bot­tom line is that for Coca-Cola, sus­tain­abil­ity is at the heart of our busi­ness and we are com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing value for the com­mu­ni­ties where we op­er­ate and the planet we all share.

The great­est learn­ing from my ex­pe­ri­ence is that we don’t have all the an­swers. On the con­trary, we be­lieve that, in a world of great chal­lenges and even greater op­por­tu­ni­ties, the best way for­ward is to work side by side with a wide range of part­ners to achieve com­mon goals.

As you hear about our var­i­ous CR pro­grams or you read our latest sus­tain­abil­ity re­port, you should also know that there’s a lot of mean­ing be­hind the num­bers—there are spe­cial bonds cre­ated and life chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ences shared when many part­ners com­bine to­gether to try and make a dif­fer­ence.

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