Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship as a Priority

As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are felt throughout the world, lives and livelihoods have been turned upside down. Alongside the tragic loss of human lives, we have seen businesses and communities brought to a sudden standstill.

As the pandemic runs its course and communities pull together to help one another, the action and conduct of businesses have also moved further into the spotlight as consumers look to brands to play their part.

Over the last few months we have witnessed corporate citizenship in action. Organisations have responded swiftly to exceptional circumstances, adapted ably, and taken several leaps forward to become even more sustainable. They have accomplished all of this while giving back and contributing to the lives of the people they serve. This calls attention to the importance of corporate citizenship, and emphasises the positive role brands can play in shaping their communities.

Carrefour is one of a number of prominent names that has successfully managed to contend with the challenges posed by COVID-19. One of the world’s largest hypermarket and supermarket brands, Carrefour — operated in Georgia by Majid Al Futtaim — has been a player in the Georgian market since 2012. Since the brand’s establishment in the country, Carrefour has provided Georgians with quality, variety, and value; introducing a completely new and unrivalled shopping experience to the region. Carrefour has brought to Georgia an extensive choice of more than 40,000 food and non-food products characterised by high value and low pricing.

With 21 local stores to cater to while acting as a catalyst for change within the community, Carrefour has proven itself a resilient retail brand amid a global crisis. Sustainability, a central tenet of the brand’s ethos, is practiced through a holistic approach, encompassing environmental consciousness and the uplifting of socially vulnerable people.

Having held more than 50 corporate social responsibility events in the last two years, Carrefour prides itself on consistently bettering its surrounding communities through a variety of means.

A commitment to eliminate single-use plastic

On average, Georgian citizens consume 525 plastic bags per year. While clearly a problem for the environment, such plastic usage depletes energy and resources — vital assets to any economy amid a crisis.

Carrefour’s dedication to reducing single-use plastics and ultimately phasing them out entirely, alongside other harmful plastics, by 2025 demonstrates preparedness for an energy-efficient future. Through educational campaigns, community volunteering activities, and incentive programs, Carrefour has been at the forefront of promoting a plastic-free environment, guided by its desire to operate in both an environmentally and socially-responsible manner.

Launched in April 2018, Honour the Nature was a campaign to educate Carrefour customers on the environmental harm of plastic bags and conversely, the advantages of using reusable bags. Since the launch, sales of Carrefour reusable bags have increased by 120 per cent. For added incentive, Carrefour rewards all shoppers who choose to use a reusable bag. In 2020, more than a million and a half customers were offered rewards. The launch of these campaigns in Carrefour stores have since marked a 70 per cent reduction in the use of single-use plastic bags.

In a further move, through a volunteering initiative, the Carrefour team conducted clean-up activities at the charming Georgian seaside city of Batumi, with support from City Hall. Carrefour has conducted clean-up activities in more than 10 different areas of Georgia. As such, the brand has been a community leader in spurring action, encouraging the local population to join its team during environmental activities.

Uplifting people with disabilities

For any initiative to be a success, Carrefour knows it must lead by example. The Carrefour team is made up of a diverse group of colleagues, and its inclusivity agenda emphasises opportunities for people with disabilities. “At Majid Al Futtaim, and by extension, Carrefour, we believe in the multi-faceted brilliance of an individual,” states Christophe Orcet, Country Manager of Carrefour Georgia. “We know that diversity makes us stronger. At this time of uncertainty, listening is of the utmost importance, and it is vital to have that variety of perspectives in the room.”

In April 2019 Carrefour signed a memorandum of cooperation with Tbilisi Public School No. 203, which caters to 143 children with special needs. In addition to often visiting the schoolchildren and learning about their lives, the team actively supports their integration into everyday activities, for example by accompanying them to cultural events of interest.

Meanwhile, during the pandemic, the brand’s partnerships with organisations such as the Red Cross, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, Tbilisi City Hall, and the Autism Research Centre allowed for a further expansion of Carrefour’s scope of support. Through these partnerships, Carrefour has helped people with disabilities, single mothers, socially vulnerable families, orphans, war veterans, children with serious illnesses, and the elderly.

A catalyst for community collaboration

While Carrefour proactively supports the communities, it serves — being a brand that recognises its place at the centre of those same communities, the brand also empowers its customers to make a difference themselves.

During the pandemic, Carrefour joined the Red Cross and Tbilisi City Hall campaign to support socially vulnerable elderly people. As part of the social campaign, customers were given the opportunity to play their part by buying products at Carrefour Georgia stores, to be later distributed to those in need. Moreover, through a partnership with Mastercard, customers using the credit card within any branch of Carrefour Georgia enabled a donation to be made toward helping single elderly people.

Most recently, an important memorandum signed with the international charity organisation, Emmaus, helped provide unwanted clothes to socially vulnerable families.

“We are pleased to be able to leverage our network for greater community participation. Often, people enjoy the opportunity to help or volunteer, but are at a loss of how to do so. Our partnerships and initiatives allow us to not only help the community, but also enable individuals to see the power in collective action,” Orcet added.

A brand with a great sense of social responsibility, Carrefour recognised early on that the pandemic — alongside various social issues — are a community concern. Using its resources and network to effectively contribute to society speaks to the belief that a business can only thrive if the people in its surrounding communities work together. As Carrefour underlines its commitment to the people and communities it serves, the brand also reiterates the fact that business will surely play an even greater role in supporting communities going forward, even as the coronavirus fades into the past.

06 August 2020 18:12