Nestle’s charitable programmes
27 November 2013
Mayritsio Paternello: ‘We have made significant progress with regard to children’s education in Russia’
Pursuit of corporate social responsibility goals is an integral part of the business strategy of Nestle, one of the world’s biggest companies. In Russia alone the company spends over $1.5 billion on its charitable programmes. For six years Nestle has adhered to the concept of creating shared values and every two years publishes a report on its social activities for the preceding period. Specialists within the voluntary sector see Nestle’s activities in this regard as exemplary. The general director of Nestle Russia, Mauritsio Paternello, gave an interview to ASI on the subject.
Mr Paternello said that the creation of shared values applied to Nestle’s work everywhere. This was a three pronged approach consisting in the first place of compliance with local law, business principles and codes of behaviour; in the second of providing a secure future; and in the third of creating shared values. The company had determined that the most effective action would be to secure reliable water supplies, healthy nutrition and the development of rural areas. In Russia they were concentrating on healthy nutrition via programmes for promoting a healthy lifestyle and raising the level of children’s education as regards diet.
Charitable activity was something that allowed the company to work with various NGOs as well as players in the market and to create programmes geared to the long term, the most important of which were the cookery courses for teenagers. The charitable programmes went under the slogan, Let’s Improve Our Lives’, and applied to very diverse groups. Work went on with over 50 charities. Priority was given to those in greatest need – people with a low standard of living or with disabilities. The company also supported children’s creativity. It was developing voluntary work in the areas of helping children and ecology. There were projects like Angel Tree, the cookery sessions, Operation Clean Shore, and others, all described in the latest report. Mr Paternello stressed that what the company was doing did not vary greatly from country to country.
Asked about Nestle’s success in educating youngsters in Russia, he said that the main aspect was the effectiveness of the programme concerned with diet. This was not a commercial project. Nestle was not mentioned. The main point was to educate the younger generation. The programme had been adapted to the needs of different ages and different national preferences. It had been developed by leading professionals who had suggested really effective ways of putting it over. Another important factor was the enthusiasm of all those involved, teachers, scientists and the regional branches of the ministry of education. Parents and teachers were seeing positive results from the nutrition programme, noting that it helped to make youngsters aware of their health and diet. That was the main achievement.
Every year in July Nestle held an inter-regional conference on raising a healthy generation within the context of its Talking about Correct Nutrition programme. The company got people together from all the regions and put on a big event attended by representatives of the ministry of education. The organisers were delighted to see how pleased the youngsters were to participate in the programme. It had been extremely successful in Russia and last year had been no exception.
Replying to the interviewer’s reference to the widespread discussion on the social networks prompted by Nestle’s refusal to supply milk products to children in the far east of Russia who suffered from the flooding*, Mr Paternello explained that the company always helped regions stricken by natural disasters. A special budget was maintained for the purpose and kept up as necessary even at times of crisis. Over 19 tonnes of Nestle products were supplied by way of humanitarian aid.The company gave the ministry of health for the Amur region puree and juice for children and kasha, coffee and beverages for adults for onward distribution. Regretfully as a global company it was bound by World Health Organisation rules forbidding donation of dry preparations to private individuals and NGOs.
Mr Paternello said that Nestle’s co-operation with NGOs was founded on the principles of trust and openness. As a commercial company it depended on the experience and knowledge of the professionals in the charity sector. That first and foremost refers to Nestle’s long time partners such as the CAF, Travelling Together, Here and Now (helping parentless children), and ASI. The partnership with the last had lasted over 15 years. ASI had been the first to write about charity and corporate social responsibility in Russia and popularising charitable projects was as important as the projects themselves.
*This is reference to the serious flooding that took place in autumn 2013 in the Amur region (Translator).