We maintain a continuous dialogue with organizations and initiatives in Switzerland, Europe and production countries. This dialogue enables us to assess external expectations of our company at an early stage, build up our knowledge and pool our strengths.
We involve relevant stakeholders in joint projects to ensure a regular exchange of knowledge and experience. This exchange takes place in bilateral meetings, in working groups or informally around the fringes of larger-scale events. The fact that we do not practise promotional communication, take an open approach to dealing with difficulties in accommodating the varying expectations with regard to sustainability, and highlight our achievements in a transparent manner has helped to ensure a high level of trust and legitimization.
Coop stakeholder forum
Every year, we invite around 50 representatives from environmental, consumer and producer organizations as well as individuals from universities and administration to tell us in concrete terms what they expect from us and to discuss these expectations with us. By means of an online survey carried out in advance, we determine which aspects are important to our stakeholders in order to ensure that these issues are addressed. Participants then form working groups to discuss their concrete expectations and present them to those in attendance. The small size of the event and the active participation of members of the Executive Committee and management ensure direct feedback and an open exchange.
The results of the Coop stakeholder forum flow into the target-setting process at the level of the Coop Group Executive Committee. With “Transparency in the product chain” in 2014, for example, we tackled an issue that had been particularly dominant among stakeholders in the previous year. Participants believed that retailers should have detailed knowledge of the product chains of the individual products, and keep them as short as possible. In addition, they also wanted to see harmonized environmental and social standards, as well as fair distribution of risk and opportunities throughout the product chain, with the prevention of undesired side effects such as the exclusion of smaller producers due to excessive administrative and financial expense. This input is now being processed as part of an internal project aimed at ensuring transparency in product chains.
Overview of stakeholder activities in 2013