Social Responsibility Program of the Coca-Cola Company

Abstract

This is an evaluation report of the Coca-Cola company’s social responsibility program. It starts with an introduction then gives a brief background of the company and then gives an evaluation report of the company’s social responsibility program. The paper then ends with a conclusion.

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Introduction

When trying to understand corporate social responsibility in the past two decades, charity work and philanthropic works were seen as the major drivers of corporate social responsibility. Engagement in these acts by companies and institutions formed the basis for which the corporate social responsibility for companies was judged. But this view has changed over time and a new notion of corporate social responsibility has been adopted. This notion views corporate social responsibility as a commitment to improving the lives of workers and the communities where companies do their business. Corporate social responsibility has come to be viewed in terms of how best institutions and companies address the issues that impact virtually every area of their operations. This includes the hiring of workers, governance, and ethics, the offering of training opportunities, and the establishment of responsible policies that are related to the purchase and supply of goods. Also, these policies should touch on the energy and environmental impact of the companies and institutions.

In considering a more recent definition of corporate social responsibility as referring to operating business in a manner that accounts for social and environmental impact created by business, means that there should be and there has been a commitment to developing policies that integrate responsible practices into the daily business operations. The companies should over the duration of time (maybe annually) report on the progress they have made to implement the policies they set and the way in which their practices fit into the laid down policies.

Some of the policies that companies should set that are in line with corporate social responsibility include policies on the adoption of internal controls, commitment to diversity in the hiring of employees without discrimination whatsoever. Also, there should be policies that guide the management team in their conduct and relationship with the employees. The best policy states that employees in any company should be seen as assets and not costs. This is where they are integrated into the decision-making process in their companies.

In line with all these developments, efforts have been made to integrate corporate social responsibility into being the core culture of major companies. The company to be evaluated. This evaluation report focuses on the coca-cola company and its social responsibility program.

History of the company

The coca-cola company is the largest manufacturer, distributor, and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates in the world. It is a Delaware corporation that has its offices in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States. This company sells its products in more than 200 countries in the world and in order to reach its millions of consumers all over the world, it uses a network of bottlers and distributors. Most of these associates are on franchised business ventures and are locally owned and controlled.

Due to the fact that the coca-cola company is an international company, it has its main controls in the form of a centralized Board of Directors and the Chief Executive Officer who gives direction on all issues touching on the company and its products. They also set up the guiding code of conduct for their employees all over the world. As such, the evaluation will focus on the universal program that the coca-cola company follows irrespective of the location or territory it operates.

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This company has been united in its mission, vision, and values that it seeks to follow wherever it operates. This gives it the identity it has the world over. Its shared values are guided by leadership, passion, integrity, collaboration, accountability, innovation, and quality.

Evaluation procedure

An effective ethics program has five elements which include clarity and consistency of language, codes of practice, development of skills in ethical analysis, peer support, and character development. These elements will be closely followed as the standard in evaluating the coca-cola company corporate social responsibility program. As much as possible the report will draw much from what the company is doing in order to fulfill its program and the reports made annually on the progress of the companies in different regions of the world.

This evaluation standard is relevant because it focuses on the major elements of an ethics or social responsibility program in a company. The coca-cola company has as one of its aim to lead by example. Therefore it sets high standards at all levels and strives order to achieve its set targets. This makes it a good but challenging company to review or evaluate.

Achievements of the company

In its annual report for the year 2008, the coca-cola company showed/reported to having realized continuous progress in conducting its business in a responsible manner. This was far as the realization of the set standards in corporate social responsibility was concerned.

This report was divided into different sections. It was in the governance and management section that the company reiterated its belief. The report says that the company believes that a strong corporate governance and ethics program was essential to the success of the business.

Areas focused on by the report

The four main areas that relate to the corporate social responsibility program of the company that has been focused on by the report are: workplace, the environment, marketplace and the community.

Workplace

The coca-cola company is an equal opportunity employer and therefore provides equal opportunities in the hiring of its staff and employees. The report holds that there had been respecting for diversity a factor that can be attributed to the success in the business of the company. This is because when there were people of diverse backgrounds in the company then it was more productive. In addition, this diversity ensured the maintenance of proper workplace standards in terms of safety and health for workers. Respect for diversity in the coca-cola company has been a major policy that has been credited for developing a highly motivated and committed workforce.

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Environment

As regards the environment, the company integrated principles of environmental stewardship during its decision-making and business processes. As a result of these principles, the company took a leading role to protect and preserve the environment by sponsoring many environmental-related programs. These programs raised awareness of the need to preserve or protect the environment from pollution or destruction. As a result, the company sought to reduce the number of waste products and tried to develop new ways of recycling the waste.

The marketplace

The report holds that the company always designed its products in order to meet the beverage needs of its customers, suppliers, distributors, and the local communities. The services offered were also in line with the above. This was an achievement since among the policies for the company social responsibility program; the company is required to assume all the responsibility for the production of the goods and their delivery to the consumer.

Community

The company realized its set targets as regarded the community. This is because it invested more time, expertise, and resources in order to ensure economic opportunity that would improve the quality of life of the people/communities where the company operated. It took locally relevant initiatives that fostered goodwill in these communities and were able to realize success.

The Management

As already stated, the coca-cola company’s main aim is to lead by example. Therefore it sets high standards to be achieved at all levels including at the management level. The company has established standards for corporate governance and ethics that guide the company. The board of management has a corporate governance committee that is responsible for issues that touch on corporate responsibility.

This committee is comprised of highly qualified people who participate in the company’s orientation program such as orientation program helps to familiarize the board members with the company’s business and strategic plan, risk management issues as well as codes of business conduct. They also go through continuing education when in the management in order to ensure that they lead by example.

The overall board of management in the company also reflects diversity in terms of experience, expertise gender, age, race, and ethnicity which is key to the success of the company.

Ethics and compliance

The ethics and compliance program in this company has its core at the code of business conduct. This code guides the business conduct of all employees and requires honesty and integrity to be observed at all times and in all matters. It is a requirement for all the directors, employees, and associates to read, understand and follow this code while in the workplace or in the community.

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In order to ensure compliance, and ethics and compliance committees are responsible for administering their duties to determine code violations and discipline measures that are taken for such violations. The committee also has operational responsibility for education, consultation, monitoring, and assessment that is related to the code of business conduct.

The employees receive a variety of ethics and compliance training courses that are administered by the ethics and compliance officer. More than 20,000 associates are reported to have completed the training session between August 2007 and June 2000. Plans are underway for all associates to receive them in person code of conduct training. When this will be completed, it will ensure that all the actions of the employees will act in inconsistency with the company values. They will do the right thing and follow the rules of operation.

People Development

The coca-cola company invests in education with an aim to help its employees to acquire the necessary skills and experience. It provides for professional education and development by investing more hours in training activities. This goes a long way in motivating and developing the potentials of the employees to the maximum.

The three main types of training that are offered to the employees include:

  • Technical training which is aimed at improving the employees’ professional skills.
  • Leadership training which is aimed at training the future managers as well as developing the knowledge of the current ones.
  • Systems training which introduces the employers to the company operation and to basic skills that are required in the company.

One of the strong points in the people development program in this company is that it is done continuously in an environment that encourages people to develop their potentials to the fullest. In order to retain motivated and talented employees the company trains and awards them inadequate manners. In the workplace, it ensures a safe healthy, positive, diverse, and discrimination-free workplace environment.

In order to develop the employees’ skills and character on the job, the company employees occupy different levels of management. This fosters the capabilities of the local management and in allowing them to make contributions to the company develops their expertise and know-how which is good for the company.

Comparison with the standards

After comparing the coca-cola corporate social responsibility program with the standards set by the effective ethics program that had five elements in its program, it was found to fit in most areas. The five elements already mentioned for an effective ethics program are clarity and consistency of language, codes of practice development of skills in ethical analysis, peer support, and character development.

Since coca-cola company is a multinational company that operates in many countries, respect for diversity is its core value. Therefore, it ensures that all the nationals involved in the company get the same information in the language that they best understand. Therefore on the issue of clarity and consistency of language, this company fits in well with the comparison criteria.

On the issue of codes of practice, this company has developed codes of practice that are followed everywhere the company operates. It is committed to training the employees, in their code of employees. It is committed to training the employees; in their code of business conduct which serves to guide the actions of the employees. This helps the employees to conduct themselves in line with the company values. A review of the codes is very important in order to ensure effectiveness which the coca-cola company reports having done in the year 2008.

On the development of skills in ethical analysis, the company focuses on the development of the necessary skills and experience on the job as opposed to skills in ethical analysis that are advocated for by the effective ethics program. Therefore at this point, the two programs vary on the importance of the skills to be developed. The coca-cola company is committed to the development of the employee’s professional and leadership skills as well as the basic skills that are required for the job.

Peer support in the coca-cola company is a core value since the company has a lot of respect for the diversity of its employees. The compliance and ethics office trains all employees to follow the codes of practice and handles all cases and issues that touch on ethical violations without impartiality in any way. The management also involves the employees in decision-making and indifferent management levels in the company. This can be seen as a form of mentorship where the employees learn on the job. They can easily access the board members and consult them on any issue. When they are involved in accessing information from the employees, there is no disruption in the business operations of the company.

On the issue of the development of character as an essential component of the corporate social responsibility program at the coca-cola company, the company notes that its key ingredient to its excellent performance is the commitment, enthusiasm, and absolute dedication of each and every employee. This has to do a lot with the character developed by each individual employee. The company goes ahead on character development by identifying motivated employees and rewarding them inadequate ways. The professional training and development program in the company also seeks to develop character in the employees. Practical involvement in different levels of management is the best way of developing character on the job for employees. This particularly works best when it is supported by the company’s top governing organs like in the coca-cola company.

In addition to the elements looked at above the coca-cola company has established different committees, that are going to review the systems of the company. The main aim of such a move is to ensure that the company achieves its best in terms of transparency and accountability other two very important elements of an effective ethics program.

In conclusion, the coca-cola company has been very effective in its corporate social responsibility program a fact that can be attributed to its leading position in the non-alcoholic beverage companies in the world. This is the position it has held for a long time and has been able to beat its main competitors, Pepsi Co and Nestle companies for a long. Its strong belief in corporate governance and ethics as being essential components of business success has contributed much to its success. In addition, the respect for diversity as the core component in human resource recruitment keeps it ahead of the other companies in the same industry. These are the main reasons that are credited for the company’s success. However, there are inadequacies that need to be addressed for the company to continue excelling in business. On peer support, the company should develop structures that open up discussions of ethical issues with the employees other than demand for compliance. Once this is implemented the Coca-Cola Company will continue to be the leading company in the nonalcohol beverage industry.

An effective ethics program should be reviewed continuously since such programs are not stagnant. This reviewing process makes it possible to identify areas of weaknesses so as to rectify to make the programs more effective. The Coca-cola company should adopt this approach in order to make its operations more effective.

References

Corporate social responsibility. 2008. Web.

Coca-cola HBC Reports progress in corporate social responsibility. 2008. Web.

Ethics and Compliance. 2008. Web.

People Development. 2008. Web.

The Coca-Cola Company: Mission, Vision and Values. 2008. Web.

What is corporate social responsibility? 2008. Web.

Designing an Effective Ethics Program. 2008. Web.

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