It was a typically hot and humid day north of San Pedro in Côte d’Ivoire. Nathan, Nestlé’s cocoa plant manager for Côte d’Ivoire, proudly wore his Nestlé T-shirt: across his shoulders the words “Creating Shared Value” appeared in fat letters. He stood in front of a large warehouse, packed with cocoa bags ready for export. The farmers’ cooperative that manages the sorting center had just collected the newly dried cocoa beans from hundreds of smallholders in the community.
For Nathan, the farmers who operate several steps upstream in the value chain from Nestlé’s own activities were part of his company’s vision for value creation. If Nestlé’s assistance improved their farm performance and livelihoods, the long-term prospects for the company’s chocolate business would also improve. Nathan, who had been trained on shared value by his managers in West Africa, believed passionately in the idea that the farmers’ and Nestlé’s futures were closely interlinked.
But Nathan wanted to create even more value for the farmers and Nestlé. How could he build even greater transparency and therefore trust in this joint effort? He thought that compiling data to measure performance would open the door to greater investment in farmers and their communities. He believed this would help him demonstrate Nestlé’s commitment to social impact and establish a link to Nestlé’s business success, encouraging further investment from his company and industry in the sector.
Nathan wasn’t alone in his thinking. Thousands of miles away at the Shared Value Summit in New York, measuring shared value was on the agenda. Janet Voûte, Nestlé’s vice president and Global Head of Public Affairs, was facilitating a discussion on shared value measurement with corporate, NGO, and government leaders from across the world. Like Nathan, she and her colleagues understood that ongoing evaluation and measurement would ultimately prove that investment in societal conditions materially enhances a company’s competitiveness. Janet shared the internal and external performance indicators Nestlé developed, explaining how the company used them to monitor, guide, and communicate about shared value efforts.
FSG’s work with Nestlé started with “Strategy and Society.” Soon after, Nestlé’s Chairman and CEO recognized the strong link between these ideas and the company’s business legacy and strategy and hired FSG to assess its major initiatives in Latin America. A few years later in 2012, Nestlé was a founding supporter of the Shared Value Initiative, which links thousands of practitioners throughout the world to help leaders like Nathan and Janet guide their colleagues through shared value measurement and implementation.
With sales of CHF 91.6 billion in 2014, Nestlé is the world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company. “Good Food, Good Life” is the promise we commit to everyday, everywhere—to enhance lives at each stage of life with good food and beverages. Founded in Vevey, Switzerland, nearly 150 years ago and still headquartered there, the company employs 339,000 people and has 442 factories worldwide.