General Mills

Monday 10 October 2011, by Albert Berenguer, Bob Kijl, David Kool, Nick Van Velzen

Why this company?
Because we didn?t know anything about the company or its ethical activities. We found on the internet that this was one of the most ethical food and beverage companies of the world on the website http://ethisphere.com/wme2010/ and wanted to find out what was ethical. We think that companies in the food industry have a certain responsibility to the people and the environment because of the fact they are polluting.

a) The main facts about the activities of the company. 
General Mills is an American corporation, primarily concerned with food products. Is headquartered in Minneapolis and was founded in 1856 by a flour miller (Washburn). They sell their brands (such us Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totinos, Jeno’s, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, H?agen-Dazs, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Wanchai Ferry) to the whole world. Their brand portfolio includes more than 100 brands. Their products portfolio includes baking mixes, breakfast cereals, yogurt, refrigerated dough, soup, pizza, etc.
 Their mission is to nourish lives with healthier and easy to prepare foods. Also, to nourish communities with programs (such as Box Tops for Education) that gives food to the schools, by volunteering or by doing financial contributions to charitable causes. Finally, they bet for nourishing the future with a commitment to environmental sustainability by recycling, reducing waste and conserving resources.
 General Mills goal is to be among the most socially responsible food companies in the world. They are continually setting targets to achieve nutritional, social and enviromental challenges. In 2009, General Mills received over 20 awards recognizing the company for their corporate reputation and human resource. The corporate culture at General Mills is one of respect and inclusion. The company seeks to promote cross-cultural understanding in order to conserve cultural diversity in their employees.

b)
The ethical challenges this company is addressing appear whitin their current missions, namely;
Nourishing lives ( Health )
Because General Mills is active in the food industry they face many challenges considering the general health of people.
- It develops its products; Many sodium, sugar and fat reductions have been made considering its products.
- In Canada, General Mills has been involved in a working group to develop a sodium reduction strategy. 
Since the health of people is becoming more and more important many food and beverage companies face challenges to improve their products and thereby improve the health of people.
Nourishing communities ( Communities )
Many challenges regarding General Mills its mission to nourish communities are faced, namely;
- The fund raising of their Foundation which donate to; 23 international education, social service, and youth nutrition and fitness grants as Feeding America?s support network, k-8 schools, Champions for Healthy Kids program.
- Donations considering world diasters
Although it is not a direct ethical challenge for the company because they do not harm ?communities in one way or another and yet still want to be involved in the well being of the people and communities by organizing as much fundraising as possible.

Nourishing the future ( Environment )
General Mills faces many environmental challenges because of the fact they are one of the biggest food producing companies in the U.S.A, considering, Energy consumption, Greenhouse gas emission, Water usage, Transportation fuel; Their challenge is to reduct its total energy usage and forecome most of its pollution to the environment.

c) What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it. Why do we think General Mills is really ethical and why we trust it?
From their Corportate Social Responsibily Report we can summarize the following facts; 
-Third time in four years, General Mills was named in the top 10 of corporate citizens. The company was No. 3 in 2010
- Fortune magazine includes general mills in the top 50 list of the ??the most?? admired companies in the world
- The etisphere institute selected GM as one of the worlds most ehtical companies for the third year in a row
- Gm improved the health profile of products of nearly 24% of the US sales. 
- In 2010, 60% of their sales volume was comprsied of products that had been nutritionally improved since 2005
- Gm offers moret han 800 US retail products that have 150 calories or less serving options for every ocasion, from family meals to snacks
- Since 2007, the sugar in kid cereals has lowered with moret han 14 % on average. 
- GM promotes healty living. They are helping up to 1 million kids get active by supporting the ??one million pala challenge??, an initiative that encourages regular exercise. GM also supports youth nutrition and fitness programs. 
Since 2002 GM has invested 19.5 million in youth and nutrition programs that have served nearly 5 million U.S. kids
- In 2010, GM gave more than 100 million to a variety of worthy causes; Brand Philanthropy, Foundation Grants and Product Donations.
- GM is committed to providing their expertise and resources to help the poorest regions of the world to help themselves, including developing countries in Africa. 
Join My Village is their online program, promoting education and economic development for African girls and women. In 2010, 1 million dollars was contributed through this program. 
Gm also helps small and medium-sized mills and food processors in the devoloping world to produce nutritious and affordable food. 
- GM donated US$400,000 to support the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. 
- One child, one laptop is a nonprofit organization that provides educational opportunities to the world?s poorest children. GM has donated more than 2000 laptops to needy kids in South Africa
- GM donated in 2010, US$ 2,25 million to ?Pink Together? which is a campaign to support those effected by breast cancer. Since 1998, GM has contributed more than US$ 33 million through this programm. 
- At the end of fiscal 2010, 19.4 percent or their U.S. employees were minorities. 
Nearly 16 percent of management-level positions are held by people of color.
About 82 percent of their U.S. employees volunteer their time, energy and expertise ? nearly three times the 29 percent average in a survey of more than 150 Fortune 500 companies. 
- GM is progressing on their sustainability goals. In fiscal 2010, GM had annuals savings of more than US$ 600,000.
- GM wants to reduce their energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water usage by 20% in 2015. Their solid waste generation by 50% and the transportation fuel by 35% in 2015. 
- Gm tries to be green. They donated US$200,000 to the Nature Conservancy, a conservation group that protects ecologically important lans and waters, such as the Root River in southeastern Minnesota. 
- In 2010, GM donated US$ 380,000 to the National Parks Conservation Association. A nature-themed campaign. 

Seen the fact that General Mills is very transparent when we consider its operations and activities published in their annual Corporate Social Responsibility report (2010). It appears that General mills tries to be ethical at all area?s namely in the area?s of health, community and the environment. All the facts indicate the General Mills is very ethical. Seen the transparency and annual CSR report we trust General Mills and think it is a ethical responsible company.

d)
The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.
The discovery of a new possible harmful substance in food could be a possible future challenge for General Mills. However such as discovery is hard to anticipate on, therefore General Mills should have a clear scenario when such a situation occurs. This kind of development is purely external, however General Mills could focus their internal research on possible harmful substances, and creating scenario?s to foresee them. In order to stay one of the leading companies in it?s industry General Mills should improve in all of their three core areas. Within the Health area they should expand their partners to promote health, this way more people will become more informed about the dangers of unhealthy food choices. Combining this with sports and focusing on children, this could have impact on the next generation. General Mills could also reduce fat, sodium and sugar in their products even more, by continuing their research on healthier alternatives. In the area of Communities General Mills could further improve and expand their donations of their foundation. Also they could can still improve make their codes of conduct, by for example expanding education for the vendors and suppliers, so that the ingredients become even more social and environmental responsible. In the environmental area General Mills has to continue reducing their environmental footprint. Making more use of environmental friendly energy sources is one point in which they still can improve.

Bibliography

http://ethisphere.com/wme2010/
http://www.generalmills.com/
http://www.generalmills.com/~/media/Files/CSR/2011_csr_final.ashx
http://www.generalmills.com/~/media/Files/annual_report_2010.ashx

Location: Minneapolis (United States of America)

Sector: food and beverage

Official website: http://www.generalmills.com/

Key figures:

Key Figures:
Annual Revenu; $14,796.5 Million (* 2010)
Annual Profit; $1,530.5 Million (*2010)
Number of Employees; 33.000
Countries of operations; more than 100 countries

Nbr. visits: 720