Corporate Social Responsibility and Poverty Alleviation: Nestle's "Commitment to Africa" Report
The role of business in society is now becoming well-documented, and each aspect of a corporation’s social responsibility is open to scrutiny. One way in which a company may announce its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)is through external reporting to a range of stakeholders. Reporting in this way has increased over the last 10 years, with most large companies producing documents of at least 40 pages. Some of these reports cover all of the organisation's social and environmental performance, whilst others address specific aspects thought to be of interest to its audience. One such report is that of Nestlé’s "Commitment to Africa" which deals with Nestle's activities in the continent and attempts to locate these within the context of the company's contribution to economic development and its consequential contribution to poverty alleviation via economic empowerment, community development and long term commitment to growth. The paper critiques the content of the report and locates it within a wider context of the activities of national and international agencies examining poverty alleviation - such as the Millennium Development Goals of the UN - and attempts to identify the impact that Nestle may have in raising people out of poverty. The paper also seeks to critique the reporting process itself, to ask: how can companies effectively signal their CSR?
Keywords: Corporate Social Responsibility, External reporting, UN Millennium Development Goals, Poverty alleviation
Principal Lecturer, Dept of Accounting and Finance, De Montfort University