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Our Company:  Sustainability

Operating Responsibly in Emerging Markets
A Truly Global Company

Colgate-Palmolive was founded in the United States in 1806 and focused our business there for the first 100 years, but today Colgate is a truly global consumer products company. In the early 20th century we began to expand and established operations in countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Currently, we operate in approximately 75 countries where many of Colgate's companies are more than 50 years old and contribute to their local economies. Our global manufacturing operations are located throughout the world, including Mexico, India, China, Guatemala and other emerging markets.

Benefiting People Around the World

Colgate's business operations in emerging markets create value for many different stakeholders in regions all over the globe. We strive to develop and provide quality products at an affordable price to consumers, we are an ethical trading partner for our retail customers, we offer employment and career opportunities for local talent, we support programs in our communities and we apply our global best practices everywhere we do business.

Providing Products to Consumers Around the World

Since its inception, Colgate has been providing valuable, useful products to people of all economic backgrounds. In 2009, 45% of Colgate sales were in Greater Asia, Africa and Latin America, which are generally considered to be emerging markets.

A majority of Colgate's sales in emerging markets come from small neighborhood stores, often within walking distance of consumers' homes. In order to better understand the small-store environment, the consumers who shop there and the ways they shop, Colgate employees often immerse themselves in a store for up to a week to experience day-to-day goings-on firsthand. Based on consumer and shopper insights, the Company works closely with local merchandisers and shop owners to offer a relevant assortment of products and merchandising services to each store.

Our global product line is designed to make people's lives healthier and more enjoyable. With this in mind, we have long-standing processes and practices to ensure our company develops and produces products in line with local needs, habits, practices, cultural differences and purchasing power in emerging markets throughout the world.

We have innovation centers in the emerging markets of Russia, India, China, Thailand and Mexico. We innovate for 100% of our core product categories and have regional technology centers supporting these innovation centers. We start this process by investigating key local consumer insights before starting to develop any new product and ensure products being developed by the regional innovation centers respond to the needs of local market consumers. We work to make products more affordable in emerging markets with smaller sizes, refill packs and lower-cost formulas.

A few examples of products developed to meet the local needs of consumers in emerging economies:

  • In many emerging markets, we offer Axion® dishpaste as a cost effective way to clean dishes; dishpaste replaces the use of powder detergent or laundry bars and delivers a better value for local consumers
  • In East Africa, we sell Colgate toothpaste in small tubes to respond to limited purchasing power of local consumers and to enhance the regular use of toothpaste
  • Across Africa, we offer inexpensive, high-quality Colgate toothbrushes, providing consumers with a quality alternative to other choices
  • Our Fabuloso® household cleaners range originated in Latin America and expanded to parts of Europe and North America
  • We developed Colgate tooth powder in India based on local insights of consumers using fingers and less water
  • In most African markets we conduct joint toothpaste and toothbrush promotions, offering products at a discounted price
Operating Responsibly with All Retail Customers

Known for having a long history of strong relationships with its retail trade partners, Colgate is sharply focused on aligning its strategies and goals with those of its trade partners in order to achieve mutual success. Colgate people understand that the way we do business is just as important as the results we achieve. Colgate has developed global commercial selling principles that apply to our relationships with all customers, regardless of their size or location. These principles provide specific guidelines on how to achieve business goals, while maintaining Colgate's commitment to its values and to upholding the highest ethical standards in its business dealings. Reflecting the importance Colgate places on these principles, the Company's senior-level general managers around the world led a training workshop, called Implementing Commercial Practices with Excellence, for all commercial personnel. Within a year, more than 10,000 Colgate employees and third-party merchandisers had completed the training either online or in classrooms.

Engaging Suppliers

Our presence in developing countries encourages the exchange of technology and knowledge with local suppliers. Each Colgate-Palmolive facility operates in a local economy, and local suppliers must meet the quality and business standards required to do business with Colgate, including our Global Contract Manufacturing Standards, our Code of Conduct and local regulations. To read more about our business relationships with suppliers around the world, please visit our Respect for Business Partners section.

Developing Colgate People

As a global company, we employ local people in the marketing, sales, manufacture and distribution processes. As stated in the Colgate Code of Conduct, Colgate is committed to paying employees a wage that enables them to meet at least their basic needs and providing employees the opportunity to improve their skills and capabilities.

We have many practices in place to ensure knowledge, skills and technology are transferred from headquarters to all of our operations around the world and from all of our operations back to headquarters.

Each year, Colgate selects approximately 20 early-in-career individuals representing all divisions and regions to participate in Colgate's Leadership Challenge program. Participants spend a week at the Company's corporate headquarters in New York, where they work on team projects and interact with senior executives.

Approximately 30,000 of Colgate's 38,100 employees are located outside of the United States and about 75% of our general managers, the Colgate executives who lead our business on the ground, are non-U.S. citizens. Expatriates assigned to our Greater Asia, Africa/Middle East and Latin America divisions represent less than one percent of our global workforce.

Colgate employs a two-way communication process to ensure division management is abreast of all regional activities and issues and can respond to regions. For example, division management travels to the subsidiaries a minimum of twice a year to conduct full business reviews, which include sharing best practices and communicating key regional strategies.

Colgate also conducts informal, interactive "town hall" style meetings where local employees discuss business results and issues and generate innovative ideas with members of senior management. Ranging from as few as 10 people to more than 200, the "town hall" meetings are led by division or functional executives in offices and plants.

We also offer short-term assignments where select people from the subsidiaries are selected for specific assignments either at corporate headquarters or in other subsidiaries in the region. Through this process, Colgate people acquire valuable experience and globally applicable skills, deepen their expertise and expand their networks. This practice also enables Colgate people to incorporate the divisional business perspective that they can reapply and share when they return to their subsidiaries. Other practices include cross-functional swaps for employees at the subsidiary level in order to develop, share and transfer knowledge and expertise.

The company also provides a global training curriculum for employees worldwide that includes classroom and online courses in technical operations, leadership and ethics and compliance, among others.

Supporting Communities Wherever We Do Business

In the Communities section of this report, we discuss our support for community projects around the world. Also key to our strategy in these regions are our educational programs such as Bright Smiles, Bright Futures and the Global Handwashing Campaign. In addition, in 2006, Colgate established the Global Child Dental Health Taskforce, in partnership with the World Health Organization, to help eradicate dental cavities in children globally by the year 2026. The program establishes national task forces in countries around the world to develop strategies to eradicate the particular dental health issues in its communities. Colgate is working with its subsidiaries to establish dental health centers, to provide dental services and to distribute oral health kits to underdeveloped urban and rural areas.

Below are just a few examples of how Colgate supports communities in emerging markets:

Partnering with the Moroccan Ministries of Health and Education

Since 1990, Colgate has partnered with Morocco's Ministries of Health and Education to provide oral health care education through the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program. The program has reached more than five million children in Morocco since its inception. In 2008, we became the official partner of the Moroccan Ministries of Health and Education for dental hygiene, and we expanded our oral health care awareness activities to include new mothers.

Serving Rural South Africans with a Mobile Dental Clinic

Another way Colgate is reaching out to communities in need is through its sponsorship of the dental clinic aboard the Phelophepa health care train, a unique mobile medical service that provides affordable access to health care for the people of rural South Africa. The only one of its kind, this mobile dental clinic provides oral health services, hygiene education, restorative procedures and extractions to approximately 10,000 patients each year in the most remote areas of the country. Also as part of this program, a Colgate dental educator and dental students visit surrounding schools to provide oral health education and free dental screenings while distributing Colgate toothpaste and toothbrushes.

Providing Assistance to Communities in Need in Mexico and Brazil
Since 1989 Colgate has been providing oral care education and assistance to more than 50,000 native-Brazilians.

In Mexico, Colgate donated 75 dental units to communities in need, enabling access to oral health care for more than one million Mexicans. The clinics outfitted with the dental units have become the Mexico Health Department's standard for all new clinics.

Also in Mexico, 25 years ago Colgate founded a nonprofit organization, Estrellas Colgate. The organization provides support to children and young adults with an interest in sports. Participants come from families with limited resources and through Estrellas Colgate have access to activities ranging from homework support and computer instruction to lessons on civic values.

Encouraging Good Oral Health and Environmental Responsibility in the Philippines

In the Philippines, Colgate has partnered with the Department of Education on an oral health and environmental project, the Zero Cavities, Zero Waste Project. The program aims to foster children's oral health care and the environment by encouraging students to brush their teeth regularly and recycle used Colgate sachets by turning them into useful items such as bags, purses, kits and folders.

Supporting Communities in Thailand, India and Nepal

After the 2004 Asian Tsunami struck the Bangsak School in Thailand's Phang-Nga Province, all that remained of the campus were two flagpoles. Today, through funding donations from organizations and corporations, the school has been rebuilt. Colgate has supported the school, renamed Rajaprajanugroh 35, with financial support and employee involvement to develop the Colgate Library. Colgate employees, through a fundraising and book donation program, have donated books, learning equipment and money to the library.

For the past five years, Colgate in partnership with Pratham, a Mumbai-based non-governmental education organization, has set up libraries for the underprivileged children in low-income areas in Mumbai to encourage and inculcate the habit of reading among these children.

Colgate supports several community development initiatives in Nepal, including providing educational scholarships to students from government schools. In Hetauda, Nepal, we have operated two clinics since 2001. More than 18,000 people have benefited from the medical and dental services offered at these clinics.

For information on other partnerships around the world, please visit the Communities section of this report.


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InformaciĆ³n Relevante

Community Programs

Learn how Colgate's support of community programs is helping to make the world a better place.