Aside from the need to be financially competitive, internal and external stakeholder interests in J. Sainbury’s business operations have been primarily responsible for the prioritization of CSR agenda as seen in the company’s CSR programs.
In 1997, amid the widening concern for human rights abuses such as child labor involved in the food production and supply chain mechanisms of food manufacturers and retailers, the company started “developing initiatives for socially responsible sourcing for their brand food and non-food suppliers,” (Leigh & Waddock, 414) which translated later into their being a founding member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The ETI is “one of the most prominent multi-stakeholder organizations in Europe” that aims to reorganize the global supply chain of UK retailers along the paradigm of ethical trading.
(Hughes 422) The company’s commitment to the ETI is reflected in many of its programs on product sourcing and investments in communities which “broadens its supplier base especially in developing countries. ” (Jones, Comfort, Hillier, & Eastwood 887) The increased significance of CSR in the lives of many business organizations such as the J. Sainsbury has given birth to such mechanisms as Total Responsibility Management or TRM systems, which are “systemic approaches for setting and managing responsibility goals within companies.
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” (Leigh & Waddock 411) TRMS have become necessary in light of the fact that CSR activities in a given company have become elaborate programs in themselves that need appropriate management, monitoring, and evaluation activities. For J. Sainsbury which is UK’s third largest food retailer, TRM strategies not only enabled the company to meet various CSR interests and goals but also gave them the capacity to be “explicit about how they respond to a growing array of standards, principles, reporting, monitoring, and codes of conduct initiatives to which they have been subjected. ” (Leigh & Waddock 411)
The implementation of TRM strategies is apparent in the company’s recent efforts to make their CSR reports publicly known. In 2004, the company published its first annual report on its corporate social responsibility program that focused on the improvement of services, the first among these consumer safety, choice, education, and experience; the next on the promotion of a safe, healthy working environment for employees; the third on community development contribution; the fourth on sustainable environment; the fifth on supplier relationship and product sourcing ethics; and the last on investor relationship.
(J Sainsbury 2004) This report mirrored the multi-stakeholder approach which takes into account the interest of both external and internal interests that hold sway over the company and its operations. The over-all direction of the company’s CSR programme is encapsulated in five major goals: 1) the best for food and health, 2) respect for our environment, 3) sourcing with integrity, 4) making a positive difference to your community, and 5) a great place to work. (J. Sainsbury plc, 2005; 2006)
Here, the company has attempted to work for an integrated approach in addressing customer and social concerns, wherein J. Sainsbury’s executive leaders themselves are working to “get CR embedded in [J. Sainsbury’s] business processes and practices. ” (Leigh & Waddock 416) An integrated, multi-stakeholder approach is thus illustrated in J. Sainsbury’s two annual reports (2005 and 2006) where goals, outcomes, and progress of the company’s CR initiatives are outlined. For consumers, two of the biggest moves by J.
Sainsbury to protect its customers were the elimination of genetically modified (GM) ingredients (Kerr 7) and hydrogenated fat from its own brand foods amidst studies revealing that these posed health risks to human beings. (J. Sainsbury 2006) It also started carrying organic produce sourced from local farmers through the regionality program which has made organic products possible for consumers. The company also produces leaflets and food safety risk guides apart from clear product label and information in order to ensure the safety of its customers.
(J. Sainsbury 2004) Its initiative in pulling out genetically modified organism and in promoting organic food products could also be recognized as environmental contributions since it also promoted a reduction in pesticide-use among their suppliers. (J. Sainsbury 2006) Likewise, J. Sainsbury’s community support project targets communities wherein their colleagues are located. These community projects support local school-based and community-based activities of children through material and financial giving, provides training to J.
Sainbury employees on food and nutrition concerns “to make them ambassadors for the food [J. Sainbury] sells,” and ensures the participation of J. Sainsbury branches in food relief work for the poor. (J. Sainsbury 2006) Employee development programs form the core of the making J. Sainsbury’s “great place to work. ” Among the company’s output in terms of employee benefits and fair employment practice in 2005 was the reduction of workplace accidents, an increase in the number of colleague promotions, and ensuring continuous employee skills development through training and educational activities.
It also aims to recruit people over the age of 50 into the company. (J. Sainsbury 2006) The fact that J. Sainsbury has made great effort to synchronize and coordinate their CR efforts is in itself highly commendable. All in all, J. Sainsbury’s holistic approach to integrate CR into their business organization and culture shows genuine expression of interest to alleviate the impact of big businesses on the environment and on human life.
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