Global Index

India Spotlight Index

Global Index 2016

G. Engagement findings

Key findings

  • Danone is the leader in this Category, scoring 6.3 and leading other companies by a significant margin. This marks a departure from the 2013 Global Index, in which three companies were tied with the highest score. Nestlé did best on ‘G2: Stakeholder engagement’.
  • Of the 19 companies that have commitments and/or programs in place, all except two took relevant steps with regards to engaging both government and stakeholders. FrieslandCampina, Mars and Campbell improved most in the rankings.
  • 77% of companies had either commitments or activities for both engagement with governments and stakeholders. Three companies have no commitments or activities, and only two companies have commitments and activities exclusively related to engagement with governments or stakeholders.
  • Similar to the findings in 2013, companies demonstrated stronger performance on engagement with nutrition stakeholders compared to lobbying and engagement with government. However, scores for both were very low, on average: 1.8 on ‘stakeholder engagement’ (G2) versus 1.0 on ‘lobbying and influencing governments and policymakers’ (G1). Many more companies disclosed information about their nutrition stakeholder engagement than about government engagement.
  • Companies slightly improved their performance on lobbying and engagement since 2013. Programs that existed in 2013 continued to expand and mature, with more robust accompanying disclosures. Generally however, companies did not demonstrate evidence of adopting policies in areas that focus on key nutrition issues.
  • Specific policy positions were rarely disclosed. Although high-level lobbying or business ethics polices were in place at most companies, very little information on lobbying positions was published.
  • Companies do not appear to be generally involved or cooperating with policy formation in this area with governments of developing countries. Danone, Ajinomoto, and Unilever were the only three companies of the 22 assessed that were able to provide examples of engagement with developing world governments on undernutrition issues.
  • Too often, reporting provides only a general discussion of lobbying and engagement with no clear sense of the extent to which companies are using engagement with governments and other stakeholders to inform their nutrition and undernutrition strategies. Most companies still seem to view engagement activities as principally public relations (PR) exercises, i.e. a way in which to promote their activities, rather than a means to strengthen their nutrition-related business and philanthropic strategies. Only a few companies have adopted the comprehensive AA1000 engagement standard.

Key recommendations

  • Adopt and disclose clear policies on lobbying: Companies need to adopt clear policies to guide their lobbying activity related to nutrition and undernutrition issues.These need to support regulatory and policy initiatives that encourage good nutrition and not undermine efforts to improve diets and health. While many companies disclose a position on lobbying in general, very few address nutrition and undernutrition issues therein. A clear policy strengthens organizational accountability around lobbying activities.
  • Improve disclosure, particularly with regards to lobbying activities: This gap was identified in the 2013 Index and remains apparent. Companies could be more transparent about their support for, involvement in, and financial contributions to industry associations and lobbying organizations. While some companies are legally required to provide a baseline of information on lobbying in countries such as the U.S, all companies should provide this information globally to allow stakeholders to examine the role they are playing.
  • Make lobbying positions on key nutrition issuespublic: All companies should enhance disclosure on how their lobbying activities relate to tackling obesity and dietrelated chronic diseases. This includes ambitions related to responsible marketing and labeling, so that all stakeholders can understand the positions they are taking in their dialogue with regulatory authorities.
  • Enhance policy cooperation with governments of developing countries: All companies need to significantly boost their engagement and offer greater support to governments in developing countries that are trying to address undernutrition. When undertaking either commercial or philanthropic undernutrition-focused projects, companies should work to support the goals of local governments.
  • Implement the AA1000 standard in stakeholder engagements: A clear gap remains in translating stakeholder engagement activities into organizational change, a shortcoming also identified in 2013. Few companies follow the AA1000 standard, which provides a structure for conducting thorough and effective stakeholder consultation. This is particularly relevant for low-scoring companies with underdeveloped consultation programs, as the AA1000 standard clearly sets out the scope and framework of a best practice program, along with practical implementation guidelines.
  • Formally integrate stakeholder engagement into business development: By including a stakeholder insight and issue gathering phase when developing new strategies and initiatives, companies can assemble valuable information on potential risks and opportunities and understand how others are tackling similar challenges.
  • Demonstrate how stakeholder dialogue has influenced business decisions: This should be the primary purpose of engagement. A critical next step for many companies is not only to ensure that their engagement is designed in such a way as to generate valuable insights to influence strategy and practice, but to report clearly on how they have done so.

Improving nutrition for all

The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.

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Funders

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

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