What picture do you see when someone says the word “Sustainability”? Sustainability is becoming one of the most over-used buzz words in business. Personally, I am not a fan of the word because to sustain means to stay still.

As we prepared to launch The Coca-Cola Company 2012/2013 Sustainability Report, I reflected on the actions that give meaning to Sustainability at Coca-Cola.   



Cleanup

At Coca-Cola, Sustainability is about creating social value while growing our business.  Social value means empowering women, replenishing water and enhancing well-being for people and communities. We’re committed to doing that through innovation and strong partnerships—what we call Golden Triangle partnerships between business, government and civil society.  We know it’s a team sport and better when done with others. 

Sustainability is a journey that should never end, yet it should always be improved to touch more people.  Our journey involves our associates, consumers, customers, bottlers and everyone associated with our Company.  We know we have a long way to go to achieve our commitments, and as the 2012/2013 Sustainability Report shows, we’re intent on doing just that.

We are making progress. For example, Coca-Cola has: 

  • Enabled the economic empowerment of more than 300,000 women in 22 countries since our 5by20™ initiative started three years ago;
  • Replenished 52 percent of our global product volume through our engagement in 468 community water projects with partners in 94 countries;
  • Provided consumers with more than 800 low- and no-calorie options to choose from worldwide—nearly 25 percent of our global portfolio; and
  • Supported 290 physical activity programs in 118 countries.

These are just a few of the examples you’ll find in this report.  

Although I just spent nearly 300 words doing so, sustainability isn’t defined by words on a page or a definition in a book.  It’s the actions we take every day to positively impact the environment and make a difference for the people and communities we serve.  It’s the opportunity to create value and do even more, go farther and move faster.  Let’s not stay “still” and simply sustain.

That’s what sustainability means to me. More importantly, what does it mean to you?  What legacy will you leave behind for our future generations?

Let’s continue this conversation in the comments below, and then please join me on November 12 at 3 pm EST in a Twitter chat by following the #CSRChat hashtag and @BeaperezBea.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Bea Perez is Chief Sustainability Officer at The Coca-Cola Company.