Ethically serving stakeholders
A Co-operative Food Group case study

Page 5: Benefits of being stakeholder-focused

It is not easy to balance all stakeholder requirements. It means the main focus of the business is not just about profitability. Alongside revenue, it needs to consider its impact on people and the environment. The Co-operative is led by its values and the need to behave ethically. Employees also benefit from the business being stakeholder-focused. They will want to continue working for an organisation that has good and fair policies and does the right thing. This is more cost-effective for the business than having to recruit new staff. Consumers and members support organisations that behave ethically. Providing ethicallysourced goods enables The Co-operative Group to gain a competitive advantage.

The Co-operative Group works with a number of consumer organisations, pressure groups and charities to meet the needs of its stakeholders. Supporting the values of these groups helps create positive public relations for The Co-operative. For example, The Co-operative leads the challenge against climate change and 99% of its power is sourced from good quality renewable resources. In 2008, The Co-operative received a lifetime achievement award from the RSPCA recognising its achievements in the field of animal welfare. The Co-operative also addresses waste management issues and has a major recycling centre in Manchester. It has also reduced the amount of packaging used for its own brand food products by 15%.

All of this leads to The Co-operative Group's development as a sustainable business. By working with government and consumer groups, issues of ethical importance can be targeted. For example:

  • certain additives including artificial colours and MSG were removed from its own products from 2005, well ahead of its competitors
  • The Co-operative only sells free range and organic eggs.

All of this has helped The Co-operative to represent the ethical views of its members.

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Co-operative Food Group | Ethically serving stakeholders

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