By:Michael Connors Issue: Conscious Capitalism Section: Jewel Of Collaboration
A MillerCoors Close Up
Beer, in my humble opinion, is one of the pinnacle achievements of mankind. I also consider myself quite the aficionado. When I think of beer in general, I think of special occasions: weddings, sporting events, and barbeques. Essentially, it is an inextricable part of Americana. Therefore, when I was asked to write the article for MillerCoors it was difficult to hide my enthusiasm. I graduated from Golden High School and cannot remember a time when Legacy Coors
was not in the background of my memories, both as a community employer and citizen. When I was a child, I remember my father reminiscing about their road trips to Colorado from Louisiana to go skiing and bringing back a trunk full of golden twelve-packs to sell at a great profit. It was then the ultimate micro-brew. As a Colorado native, I know Legacy Coors to be a part of the foundation of the local community and an important partner in cases of natural disasters or other community tragedies.
Fast forward to today. Legacy Coors, in 2005, joined forces with Molson Canada to compete in a Global Economy and present itself as a global citizen, becoming Molson Coors. Then, in 2008 Molson Coors and SABMiller joint ventured to become MillerCoors – giving them greater domestic presence. Today the merged organizations have become MillerCoors and remain committed to the community at large.
Besides their commitment to natural-disaster recovery, MillerCoors maintains an over-arching community involvement program that encompasses five core responsibilities. With the force of an organization representing eight major breweries, a craft brewery, and two micro-breweries, MillerCoors has the capacity to magnify and focus the impact of their core responsibilities, production practices, and philanthropic efforts that promote responsible consumption, supports environmental sustainability while creating a sustainable supply chain, invest in people and communities and model ethical transparent business practices. Cornell Boggs, MillerCoors’ Chief Responsibility and Ethics Officer, says that with, “brewing great beer comes great responsibility.”
Community stewardship is encouraged in all aspects of MillerCoors, from production, to sales, to consumption. The guiding principles around community involvement at the company are embodied in R.E.A.C.H. which stands for responsibility, environmental stewardship, aid in emergencies, cultural diversity, and heritage. Together, R. E. A. C. H. and the five core responsibilities, mentioned above, compose a comprehensive community involvement program that enhances MillerCoors’ standing in the community and, ultimately, the bottom line. Community Engagement
During my interview with MillerCoors’ Vice President of Community Affairs, Mr. Al Timothy, I asked about the multi-pronged approach to community involvement. MillerCoors, he explained, “Supports efforts in these areas because they feel that they are not mutually exclusive and, when engaged properly, MillerCoors is then better able to collaborate with organizations that strive to improve communities where they work and live, thus helping to make a broader and more substantial impact. And at the end of the day, such community enhancement is good for business.”
When engaging internally or with the global community, MillerCoors begins at home. At Legacy Coors, for example, they have established Affinity Groups that allow employees to join forces with people of similar interests, and thus connect and collaborate within the larger organization. MillerCoors’ Minority Affinity Group is actively involved in minority supplier development by encouraging suppliers to consider increased supplier spend from minority-owned organizations. As a result, there is active collaboration and networking between first and second tier suppliers through hosted functions and through enterprise development activities. In fact, in 2008 MillerCoors awarded grants to minority-owned businesses for continued business education at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
MillerCoors also sets the standard when it comes to employee community involvement. Mr. Timothy points out that MillerCoors, “infuses a sense of community involvement in the workplace simply by prioritizing philanthropy, sustainability, and responsibility.” Simply put, to foster real change you start with people. to foster real change you start with people
They empower their employees to make a difference in the communities where they work and play and it seems to permeate the atmosphere of MillerCoors at large. Over the past several years, employee volunteers have collectively posted over 60,000 hours of community/volunteer time annually. Timothy said, “Through our volunteer activities, we dedicate resources to important causes, such as protecting our environment through beach restoration and watershed improvement projects, and providing food baskets to needy families through the Sam Sandos Christmas Basket and Cena en el Barrio programs.” Environmental Stewardship
When it comes to beer, there is one word that brings the manufacturing process and environment together – water. That’s why MillerCoors encourages volunteerism aimed at environmental stewardship associated with their production practices, as well as the impact on their communities. It takes a lot of water to make beer. Legacy Coors has long been famous for the “Rocky Mountain Spring Water” that makes its beer so crisp and enjoyable. As Mr. Timothy pointed out “Water is the blood of the beer business.” It is clear that no other resource involved in making beer is as important. Water flows through every step of the brewing process.
Given their roots in the Rocky Mountains and near the shores of Lake Michigan, they take water stewardship very seriously. MillerCoors is looking at ways to minimize water usage while making more beer. In fact, they are very proud to operate some of the most water-efficient breweries in the world. The established water usage target set by the United Nations Environment Program for brewers worldwide is 5.00 barrels of water for each barrel of beer produced. In 2008, MillerCoors recorded a 4.10:1.00 water-to-beer ratio. This year, they will aim to reduce that ratio to 3.96:1:00.
Water conservation, like many of their community-support programs, is only one feature of a larger corporate-responsibility picture. Mr. Timothy noted that Bill Coors long said “waste is simply a resource out of place.” “waste is simply a resource out of place.”
Therefore, the organization works to reduce and reuse waste - like making ethanol out of their spent grain and beer by-products, recycling of left-over production and packaging materials, and energy conservation. Going forward, MillerCoors has vowed to cut energy usage by 15% by 2015. Timothy said, “At our Texas brewery, we cut our reliance on natural gas by 9.3 percent by using biogas from wastewater in the boilers, and in California, the biogas from our anaerobic digestor’s powers electrical generators.” Sustainable Development
While sustainable production practices and community support are key to building and maintaining a profound sense of responsibility throughout the organization, perhaps most important to the management and employees of MillerCoors is responsible consumption. Beer is a product that carries with it an inherent potential for abuse. As a brewer, MillerCoors is working with community groups and private industry to educate and offer resources to curb underage drinking and drunk driving. Timothy says, “Drunk driving is completely preventable.” MillerCoors’ signature program for drunk driving prevention, You Hold The Key. Never Drive Drunk, has been activated in markets nationwide. In addition, they have numerous other drunk driving prevention programs including MillerCoors Free Rides, 1-800-Taxicab, Keep Your Balance, and a Certified Alcohol Sales Training (CAST) and Training for Intervention Procedures.
All of these programs focus on leveraging the existing public transportation and private cab infrastructure, e specially around holidays, in order to help keep the public safer and give revelers more resources to make better decisions. Additionally, MillerCoors focuses its advertising on legal drinking-age adults and supports programs like Respect 21 on Campus, Take Care, Student Emergency Medical Services Foundation, the W.I.N Foundation, and Raise Your Standards, to name a few.
What I discovered during my time with Mr. Timothy and during my exposure to the organization is that there is a true commitment to the communities where MillerCoors employees live and work. They want to help make a difference in the world around them and having access to the resources of such a large company helps them generate a noticeable impact. There is a true sense of volunteerism, environmental stewardship, promotion of responsible behavior and sustainable production practices because, simply put, “it’s the right thing to do.”
Conscious Capitalism, fundamentally, is the desire by all of us to help make the world a better place through our activities at work or at play. I believe this to be an attribute true of nearly all peoples on this earth. And this belief gives me great comfort and hope that companies, like people, will most often choose to do the right thing – just like MillerCoors.
Michael Connors has a M.A in Literature and is a Colorado native who grew up in the shadow of the Coors brewery. His interests include hiking, skiing and enjoying fine beer.
MillerCoors and Project C.U.R.E., together improving healthcare in developing countires
“Together we can change for the better the situation for children and their families in my country,” said Her Excellency, Mrs. Ernestina Naadu Mills, the First Lady of Ghana, at Project C.U.R.E.'s First Ladies' Luncheon earlier this year. The luncheon, sponsored by MillerCoors, raised enough money to send more than $2.5 million in medical supplies and equipment to hospitals and clinics in Ghana.
The luncheon was the fourth of its kind for Project C.U.R.E., a humanitarian relief organization that collects donated medical supplies and equipment in the United States and delivers these materials to doctors and nurses, and the patients they treat, in developing nations around the world. Previous events involved the first ladies of El Salvador, Mexico and Belize.
MillerCoors and its employees have been involved in Project C.U.R.E.’s work for several years. In 2005, a small group of passionate employees began volunteering their time at Project C.U.R.E. to help with sorting and packing donated medical supplies and loading containers for delivery to people in need. Their enthusiasm for the cause attracted the interest of other employees, and MillerCoors was soon holding quarterly volunteer days at Project C.U.R.E. ICOSA_vol1-6_FINAL.indd
What started as an employee initiative to give back to those less fortunate in the world grew into a corporate focus. In March 2008, Coors Brewing Company was a major sponsor of the First Ladies’ Luncheon with Mrs. Margarita Zavala of Mexico. For the luncheon honoring the first lady of Ghana in July 2009, MillerCoors was the title sponsor. Because of MillerCoors’ generous title sponsorship, all the money raised at the luncheon in July will go to delivering life-saving medical relief to people in Ghana, directly supporting the first lady’s goals for improving healthcare in her country.
The sponsorship also provided a unique opportunity for MillerCoors to engage in a full-circle corporate social responsibility program – one in which the company could make a meaningful impact for people in need of assistance and simultaneously added value to and recognized its employees’ interests and volunteer service to a nonprofit organization. MillerCoors employees will load containers of medical supplies and equipment for delivery to Ghana; some of them will also travel to Ghana to see the impact the company has made.
“MillerCoors and its employees understand first-hand the positive impact we are making in the lives of men, women and children in Ghana, and other parts of the world,” said Dr. Douglas Jackson, President and CEO of Project C.U.R.E. “In fact, together with MillerCoors, we’re saving lives! There’s nothing more meaningful than that.”
* LEGACY COORS = Coors Brewing Company prior to the joint venture with Miller.