Coursework: Analysis of company’s CSR and Business Ethics
- A) Assignment Background
As part of its “Grow Campaign” Oxfam has developed a scorecard referred to as “Behind the Brands” which focusses on companies in the food sector. The aim of the scorecard is to “generate a ‘race to the top’ among the Big Ten [food companies] to improve their policies across seven themes that impact upon food security”.1 Oxfam believes that by encouraging this race to the top among these major brand name companies it will help to reduce the “negative social and environmental impacts across agricultural supply chains”.2 It has selected 10 of the major companies in the food sector (based on their global revenues and their Forbes 2000 annual ranking) that have operations in non-OECD countries (as well as in Mexico and Chile). The ten companies listed in order of size are: Nestle; PepsiCo; Unilever; Mondelez; Coca-Cola; Mars; Danone; Associated British Foods (ABF); General Mills; and Kellogg’s. The strategy is based on the assumption that: “across the world, consumers are seeking to make choices in line with their values and are also looking to find out more about the companies whose brands they buy.”3
The companies are assessed based on the following seven themes, each of which is weighted equally:
- Transparency at a corporate level
- Women farm workers and small-scale producers in the supply chain
- Workers on farms in the supply chain
- Farmers (small-scale) growing the commodities
- Land, both rights and access to land and sustainable use of it
- Water, both rights and access to water resources and sustainable use of it
- Climate, both relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping farmers
adapt to climate change4
1 Oxfam (2014) Behind The Brands Scorecard, Methodology.P.3 2 Ibid.
Each of these supply chain related themes is assessed and a score awarded based on: (i) the company’s efforts to become aware of key issues related to the theme; (ii) its knowledge of, and how it measures and reports on, issues in its supply chain; (iii) its commitments to addressing key issues related to the theme in its supply chain; and (iv) the requirements it imposes on its suppliers to meet related standards.
The details of how the company scores (posted on the scorecard) are calculated and the input used in the calculations are provided in two documents:
- a) The Behind the Brands Scorecard Methodology, August, 2014 (available in the Find out more section of the Behind the Brands webpage https://www.behindthebrands.org/en/about)
- b) An detailed excel file providing the sources used and the calculations to arrive at a score by company and theme (available at: https://www.behindthebrands.org/~/media/Update%20Oct14/Scorecard%20-
This assignment will focus on three of those companies Nestle; Unilever; and Coca-Cola.
- B) Information sources
The company’s 2013/4 sustainability reporting is available at:
- https://www.unilever.com/investorrelations/annual_reports/AnnualReportand Accounts2013/
· https://www.nestle.com/asset- library/documents/library/documents/corporate_social_responsibility/nestle -csv-summary- report-2013-en.pdf:
colacompany.com/77/4c/2a44a5234a3ca65d449d174a0ded/2013- 2014-coca-cola- sustainability-report-pdf.pdf
Additional company sources are listed in the Oxfam scorecard excel file which has tabs for each theme. It may not be necessary to consult these additional sources in order to complete the assignment, however they may provide additional useful information. You should cite at least three additional sources non-company and non-Oxfam sources in your assignment. Some guidance on potentially relevant sources will be provided in the lectures.
- C) Assignment Instructions
Based on the instructions listed below produce a professional report addressing themes related to business ethics, corporate social responsibility or corporate respect for human rights which was faced by a company with global operations. The report should draw on the organisation’s own reporting and statements, as well as external sources addressing its policies and practices.
The total word count (excluding footnotes / references and appendices) should be stated at the end of the report and should not exceed 1200 words. The report should include the following sections. The suggested word count for each of the five sections is purely indicative.
1) Introduction (suggested word count <100)
A brief outline of the content of the report and its purpose.
- a) Describe the company’s approach to corporate responsibility in relation to the theme you choose. To do this, identify one or two ethical theories and one corporate responsibility theory/approach that you regard as underpinning the company’s engagement with the theme, and explain why you think this is the case. You should also draw from at least two additional sources that comment on the company’s performance.
- b) Based on an ethical theory describe Oxfam’s approach, or the approach of another impacted stakeholder (substantiated with information sources), to the theme.
This part of the assignment is mainly descriptive. It requires you to look at the information presented by the corporation and Oxfam (and at least two other sources) through a lens of business ethics and corporate responsibility. You are applying ethical theories and CSR approaches to the particular case in order to describe and analyse what you think happened and why it happened.
2) Scope for company and stakeholder improvement (suggested word count = 1,000) Pick a theme where the company has made little or no improvement over the year and a half
- a) outline your views on the company’s responsibilities in relation to the theme and what you think the company could do to improve its performance in that area, drawing from an ethical theories and/or CSR approaches that you think are relevant.
- b) outline how you think a stakeholder (e.g. Oxfam or another such as a community, farmers, women etc.) could be more effective in influencing the company to improve its performance.
This part of the assignment is an opportunity to demonstrate your team’s critical thinking. As a team you should discuss what you think could be ethically appropriate and effective responses of the corporation and the stakeholder, providing the rationale behind your choice. If you wish you can address any divergent opinions you have within the team in your report or in an annex.
4) Conclusion (<100 words)
Conclude with a short summary of what you regard as the key lesson(s) which you think
have been, or should have been, learned by the corporation.
- D) Research Annex
A one page annex should be attached to your report providing an overview of:
- How you found the sources which you used for your report
- Why you chose the sources you used for your report (i.e. because they are
from a reliable publication, because they are up-to-date etc.)
- Any challenges you encountered while undertaking this piece of work
Please bear in mind that students may be required to attend a viva to defend their work should there be any doubts regarding its authenticity / authoring.