Purposeful Conversations With Jonathan Chew
Wednesday, 7th November 2018 at 8:50 am
Matt Boyd from Vollie sits down with Jonathan Chew from Pernod Ricard to discuss the dangers of spreading yourself too thin with corporate social responsibility, in the latest in our series of Purposeful Conversations with CSR professionals.
Working in the beverage sector undoubtedly comes with a whole slew of CSR duties, and this becomes especially difficult to navigate for multinational groups with impacts far-reaching and often difficult to identify. Though measurable return on investment (ROI) evaluation dynamics play a huge part in ensuring consistency and clarity across a company’s CSR practices, so too does the ability to focus on core company values that unite a brand even across the globe.
So – what is it that alcohol corporations are doing for the widespread communities they inhabit and market in?
As a part of Vollie’s Purposeful Conversation series, Matt Boyd sat down with Pernod Ricard’s Jonathan Chew to discuss how CSR fits in with the alcohol sector. With a background in government relations and a career spanning national and public affairs work with Clubs Australia and NSW, Chew’s position as head of public affairs entails the design and implementation of CSR programs across both Australia and New Zealand.
“One of the things we do globally is have a platform which is common to every community we work in, so that platform is designed at the very top and signed off by the global CEO,” Chew said.
Chew goes on to describe the four pillars that remain consistent across Pernod Ricard’s CSR programs – the first, of course, being responsible drinking. “Responsible drinking is one of the cornerstones of our platform,” Chew asserts. Secondly, “as a winemaker and spirits distiller, we have a responsibility around the protection of our planet. Our third platform is around working with the communities in which we operate, and our final one is more internally focused; it’s about empowering our employees”.
For Jonathan, the success of this global approach to CSR lies in its ability to be flexible country-to-country, allowing employees from different communities across the globe to identify with the work they do and act on what will have a meaningful impact for different stakeholders.
“Our platform globally is the same in every country, and it’s left to individual affiliates to decide how we interpret and implement the parts of those platforms in each of our countries,” Chew said.
But the question is; how is Pernod Ricard keeping up in the digital age? Chew emphasises that the underlying values of the corporation have remained steady throughout the previous decade, while the delivery of the programs have evolved progressively. “What’s evolving is how we’re designing the programs, how we’re sharpening the evaluation of what we’re doing, how we’re improving the efficiency of delivery in the programs,” he explains.
Chew cites the mistake of “spreading too thin” as a major lesson for the organisation, leading them to increase focus and be more strategic in their CSR over the last 10 years and enhance engagement with their employees. It’s an intriguing parallel with the company’s larger overall strategy for marketing.
“We are trying to concentrate on doing fewer bigger activations around new products or some of our iconic products, and it makes sense to do that because you get a better ROI,” he states, “even in the CSR space, if you have a certain amount of resources and devote that with partnering maybe one community partner at a national level, and one or two selected partners at a regional level, you do get a better social return on investment”.
There is a characteristic emphasis maintained on the importance of forging clear communication paths between company stakeholders – “You’re able to engage with your employees and with others about what it is you’re trying to achieve in this space,” Chew said.
Pernod Ricard takes note of the way their employees regard CSR – as an aspect of their lifestyles, a part of their desire to feel connected to their communities. This brings them to a two-pronged approach of both internal and external programs – while internally the organisation might focus on changing over to more renewable energy supplies or using recycled glass, externally the focus is very much on ensuring responsible marketing tactics and protecting consumers against harmful consumption.
“We don’t just say ‘go plant a tree’ and that’s it, that’s your job for the day,” Chew states, “if you talk about the story of your community involvement or your social responsibility, that serves to give purpose to your brand”.
About the author: Matthew Boyd is the founder of Vollie, an online volunteering marketplace that specialises in empowering individuals and businesses to generate more social impact in this world.
This article is part of a monthly series of Purposeful Conversations by Vollie, in which we sit down with a range of CSR managers in the Australian business landscape to talk about their interpretations of the CSR space in 2018.