One example of creating shared value for our communities is our 20-year community partnership with the Southern California Mountains Foundation (SCMF). A highlight of our partnership is our work with the SCMF Urban Conservation Corps – a workforce development program that helps young people build skills by participating in stewardship projects. This partnership was launched by our employee experts in natural resource management who saw a natural fit between the skills promoted by this program and the needs of our workforce. Nestlé Waters North America supports this program through our volunteers who serve as mentors and community partners across the country.
Local Stakeholder Engagement
Sometimes there are questions about what we do and how we do it. To ensure that we are operating transparently and local needs are being met, we encourage employees to get involved in the community. Their involvement increases our understanding of community needs and concerns, and helps answer questions about our operations. Of course, many of our employees do this naturally, since they are linked to the community through neighbors, friends and family. Because much of our operations are technical, we’ve developed training for our employee spokespersons that provides the most up-to-date information, boosts their business operations knowledge and prepares them for reaching out to the community.
Siting and Community Commitment Framework
In Cascade Locks, Oregon, our engagement with local academic and nonprofit stakeholders led to a scientific study. The results of the study concluded that slight changes in water temperature would not adversely impact coldwater trout and salmon habitats along the Columbia River.
In 2011, we launched our community siting framework, which outlines how we work with communities where we seek to source spring water.
The framework codifies the best practices learned over time by engaging with community stakeholders. It is a checklist of sorts meant to ensure that we approach all siting projects by listening to and communicating with stakeholders, as well as sharing with new communitieswhat we commit to do throughout the siting process and thereafter.
For example, this two-way approach is proving helpful in Cascade Locks, Oregon, where the siting process is underway for a potential new bottling facility. Following this framework, we engaged local academic and nonprofit stakeholders who provided feedback that led to a scientific study, which helped address concerns about water temperature.
The results concluded that slight changes in water temperature would not adversely impact coldwater trout and salmon habitats along the Columbia River. This data enabled us to respond reassuringly to questions from the community and ease the initial concerns of local stakeholders.
Opening Our Facilities to the Community
We have invited community members to tour our facilities and participate in our events so they understand the nature of our business, how we operate and our effect on the community – from the number of people we employ, to the water we use, and how we manage water sources. We’ve formalized this engagement by hosting regional open houses at our facilities.
In 2012, we hosted a community open house at our facility in Hope, British Columbia, that enabled local community members to meet employees, tour the plant, ask questions, provide feedback and enjoy a community barbeque. The Hope open house attracted nearly 500 community members.
On the other side of the continent, more than 2,000 community members attended a similar open house in Hollis, Maine.
We are expanding this initiative to encourage dialogue around our work and contributions.
Creating Shared Value through Volunteerism
Nestlé Waters NA has a rich tradition of supporting employee involvement in the community through an active volunteer program to link employee interests to the needs of the community. Volunteers can participate in company-sponsored events or can help build mutually beneficial relationships with local organizations.
In 2011, we aligned our giving and volunteerism with our key focus areas – sustainability, water and health. We launched our volunteer program, Water Works, in June 2011 powered by a team of volunteer coordinators from our plants and branches, who plan events and organize employees. We added an online volunteer registration site in 2012, which enables employees to find local volunteer opportunities.
To further raise awareness of volunteering, we launched the first-ever companywide volunteer month in September 2012. More than 250 employees from 20 locations got involved, volunteering 1,492 hours and forging relationships with new community partners across the country.