The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Ambev ensures ethical business conduct

As the largest beverages company in Latin America – operating in South America, Canada, Central America and the Caribbean –, manufacturing, distributing and commercializing a wide-ranging portfolio of alcoholic, non-alcoholic and carbonated beverages, Ambev strives to operate ethically, responsibly and transparently.

This case study is based on the 2016 Sustainability Report by Ambev published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Abstract

Ambev operates in 18 countries, with 66 breweries and mixed plants producing soft drinks and over 100 direct distribution centers. Building lasting bonds with consumers and customers, not least by behaving ethically, is thus a top priority. In order to ensure ethical business conduct Ambev took action to:

  • promote ethical behavior through the Anti-corruption and Competition Compliance program
  • provide compliance training for employees
  • promote compliance through the Compliance Channel
  • ensure ethical conduct through the Ombudsman Channel

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report Ambev identified a range of material issues, such as product safety and quality, economic performance, energy efficiency, waste management, environmental impact of packaging, development of human capital. Among these, ensuring ethical business conduct stands out as a key material issue for Ambev.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Ambev engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Government
Academia
Investors
Suppliers
Customers
Press
Civil society
Health sector
Companies

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify priority topics, Ambev conducted in-depth individual interviews with representatives of stakeholder groups. They included government, academia, investors, suppliers, customers, the press, civil society, the health sector and companies.

What actions were taken by Ambev to ensure ethical business conduct?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report Ambev reports that it took the following actions for ensuring ethical business conduct:

  • Promoting ethical behavior through the Anti-corruption and Competition Compliance program
  • Ambev’s Anti-corruption and Competition Compliance program guides, through the guidelines in the company’s Code of Business Conduct, the behavior of employees and contract workers, ensuring responsible, ethical and transparent conduct. Additionally, Ambev’s Global Responsibility in Procurement Policy sets standards and expectations for the company’s suppliers and service providers.
  • Providing compliance training for employees
  • [tweetthis]In 2016, Ambev trained over 1,600 employees on matters relating to the Code of Conduct[/tweetthis], including anti-corruption practices. More specifically, 929 employees participated in an e-learning program and over 700 employees were provided with face-to-face training. In addition, videos on the company’s Code of Conduct, anti-corruption and fair competition practices were shown in factories, distribution centers and centers of excellence.
  • Promoting compliance through the Compliance Channel
  • Ambev’s Compliance Channel, accessible through the company’s intranet, enables employees to answer questions or queries about the Code of Conduct and other features of the Compliance Program. In addition, the Compliance Channel helps ensure Ambev’s commercial programs are in line with the Code of Conduct, the company’s competition policy and the law.
  • Ensuring ethical conduct through the Ombudsman Channel
  • Ambev’s Ombudsman Channel, operated by a third party, is available to employees, commercial partners, consumers and customers for reporting possible breaches of the Code of Conduct and violations of company standards and policies.

Which GRI indicators/Standards have been addressed?

The GRI indicators/Standards addressed in this case are:

1) G4-56: Describe the organization’s values, principles, standards and norms of behavior such as codes of conduct and codes of ethics – the updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 102-16 Values, principles, standards, and norms of behavior

2) G4-SO4: Communication and training on anti-corruption policies and proceduresthe updated GRI Standard is: Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

 

References:

1) This case study is based on published information by Ambev, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning.  If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) http://www.fbrh.co.uk/en/global-reporting-initiative-gri-g4-guidelines-download-page

3) https://g4.globalreporting.org/Pages/default.aspx

4) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to Ambev: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.

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