How Company Achieve Social Responsbility
Dannon’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts are focused on health. And nutrition, people, and nature. Through the Dannon Institute. The company researches and provides the public with information. About how to maintain a good diet and nutrition to advance public health. They focus on educating children about healthy eating. And providing resources to schools to enable more nutritious school lunches. Dannon supports programs like the Children’s Food. And Beverage Advertising Initiative and was one of few food companies to accept. The challenge of only advertising food meeting appropriate nutrition guidelines to children. Dannon promotes the development of its employees through its employee evaluation system. The “Danone Way,” a work-life wellness program, and its leadership training program. Externally, the company cares for its communities by sponsoring local events.
Donating to local causes, and providing aid in emergencies. It partnered with UNICEF to promote water well construction in Africa through the 1 litre for 10 litres program. It supports children’s programs with its annual “Children’s Day” volunteer efforts in which employees from all Dannon locations volunteer at local children’s charities. Dannon ensures its suppliers operate in accordance with the company’s social principles. And links variable employee compensation to company success in social and environmental efforts. To address environmental concerns, Dannon aims to achieve carbon neutrality. On five of its brands and has met the challenging goals it set for sustainable manufacturing in its “Sensible Plants” initiative. Dannon closely monitors its environmental impact, even conducting Carbon Footprint Analyses. The company has been a part of Dow Jones Sustainability Index as a result.
Dannon should avoid using its CSR initiatives as a part of its product marketing campaigns. Though the CSR programs Dannon conducts are impactful. Effective, and done for the right reasons, beginning to proactively promote. These activities to the public could put them at risk for detrimental changes and undue criticism. While advertising the efforts Dannon makes to do good in the local and global community could increase consumers’ impression of the company and foster goodwill, they could also be accused of having ingenuine efforts, or CSR-washing. Criticisms from the public that the company could doing so much more charitable work with its vast resources may not only have a negative impact on the company’s reputation, but could also pressure it to change its CSR efforts from impactful but less visible programs to ones which are more marketable but do less good for the community.
For example, long term projects like working with school districts in many local communities to enhance student nutrition may give way to more visible but perhaps more superficial activities like being a corporate sponsor of charity events or making donations of its dairy products to food banks in a few large cities. Such pressures to change its CSR would have a negative impact on the organizational commitment these efforts bring to the company’s workforce. These employees are well aware of the genuine CSR Dannon performs even if it is less visible to the public.
To them, it represents an important part of what the company stands for and is a big reason the company can retain dedicated workers. I agree with Tony Cicio, VP of Human Resources, that the most effective way Dannon can use its CSR is to recruit and retain employees. If Dannon begins to make CSR a focus of its marketing efforts, employees may begin to perceive it as ingenuine and feel less attached to Dannon for this reason. For these reasons, I think that there is a high risk that proactively communicating CSR efforts would backfire for Dannon and damage its brand reputation, employee commitment and retention, and reduce the impact its current CSR campaigns make. This triple whammy of likely negatives outweighs the potential goodwill advertising corporate social responsibility could bring.
Dannon’s current CSR efforts have emphasized providing the public with knowledge about healthy diets and access to nutrient-rich foods through the research and education provided by the Dannon Institute, partnerships with school districts to improve the healthiness of cafeteria food, and by proactively changing the nutritional formulas of its products to be more nutritious. I believe a natural next-step in Dannon’s mission to provide the public with ways to eat healthy is by working to end the issue of food deserts in inner cities. Residents of lower-income urbanized areas frequently lack access to healthy food options as the convenience stores serving their areas do not carry healthy items. Supermarket chains that offer healthy alternatives do not want to enter these areas for fear of being unable to turn a profit or being subject to higher theft rates. Therefore, people living in so-called food deserts are forced to turn to unhealthy junk food as their primary source of nourishment.
There are several organizations working to fight the problem of food deserts such as the Food Empowerment Project, WhyHunger, and Civil Eats. The Dannon Institute is continually researching food technologies and healthy eating and could share its knowledge and resources with these organizations in order to identify the nutrients people living in food deserts lack and determine ways to incorporate these into their diets. Dannon could also fight the food desert problem by working with convenience stores in these neighborhoods to begin stocking some of their nutrient-rich products or working with the aforementioned non-profits to distribute them in those areas. I think this is a fitting goal as it aligns with Dannon’s goals of getting healthy food into the public’s hands. Dannon does a great job already of educating and providing children with access to healthy foods. Extending this access to another group in need, those living in food deserts, is a fitting continuation of the company’s CSR.