Ethically serving stakeholders
A Co-operative Food Group case study

Page 2: Internal stakeholders

Individuals, groups or organisations may be affected by what an organisation does. They may also have an effect on that organisation. In this way they are said to have a stake or interest in the decisions an organisation makes. In other words they are stakeholders. Stakeholders exist both within an organisation as well as outside the business. For example, within a business, internal stakeholders might be employees and managers. Outside the business, external stakeholders may include standards agencies, customers, the government, young people and the local community in which the business operates.

One of the most important internal stakeholder groups for The Co-operative is its employees. The retail food industry depends upon good people delivering good customer service. When employees provide good service to customers, this helps the business retain its customers. If the business does well, this promotes better job security for employees. By treating its staff ethically, The Co-operative hopes to retain employees. One way it has done this has been through its 'Good with Food' theme. This involves engaging staff with the core values and principles of the Co-operative brand. Staff then feel they are moving in the same direction. Other initiatives include a training programme that helps employees to improve their skills and product knowledge.

Suppliers may be classed as internal or external stakeholders. This depends upon how closely they work in partnership with the business. For example, by working very closely with its supply chain, The Co-operative has been able to introduce a welfare and quality standard for indoor-reared chicken from UK farms, called the Elmwood standard. This has helped to improve animal welfare without huge additional costs. Also, all Co-operative own-brand fish products are now from sustainable sources. The same high standards have been set whether the fish is fresh, frozen, canned or an ingredient.

For The Co-operative, the members are an important internal stakeholder group. For example, it has an ethical policy on food that is supported by its members. This policy shows that stakeholders affect what organisations do as well as being affected by them.

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Co-operative Food Group | Ethically serving stakeholders

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