Time and again Coca-Cola has demonstrated its commitment to human rights, with initiatives focused on building sustainable communities, reducing the company’s environmental footprint, creating a safe work environment and enhancing the economic development of the communities in which the company operates. And in Johannesburg on July 21, 2011Coca-Cola South Africa, hosted 175 people for a forum on responsible sourcing—the practice of purchasing goods and services without harming or exploiting people or the environment. Responsible sourcing includes labor standards, health and safety, environmental management and business integrity.

Contributing to Communities
The meeting was organized with support from AIM-PROGRESS, an association of 24 global consumer goods companies that seek to enable and promote responsible sourcing practices and sustainable production systems. In addition to Coca-Cola, member companies include Colgate-Palmolive, PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark, Unilever, Sara Lee and others.

One goal of Coca-Cola South Africa is to refresh the country and contribute to the health and vitality of the communities it serves. Says keynote speaker Bill Egbe, president of Coca-Cola South Africa, “At The Coca-Cola Company, we believe that having a stable and ethical supplier base is important for our continued growth. Our consumers judge us by the content of our character just as they judge us by the content of our beverages. In addition, respect for human rights is core to the way in which we approach our business, our workforce and our suppliers.”

Strengthening Partnerships
At the meeting, companies and suppliers learned more about AIM-PROGRESS and what is expected of them in terms of responsible sourcing. They also heard from members of Africa Now, a regional organization that promotes ethical trade and conducts third-party monitoring of factories and farms, about how the group ensures that companies are complying with social and environmental standards. Also presenting at the forum was the World Wildlife Fund, one of the more respected independent conservation organizations, whose mission includes promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

A Successful Day

After the forum, AIM-PROGRESS reported that it was well-received, quoting suppliers who described the day as “excellent” and “a must.” One praised the event, saying, “The session was well-organized, and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with other suppliers after the session to share our experiences related to responsible sourcing.”