As a signatory of the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, Nestlé committed to conducting gender assessments in their Côte d’Ivoire supply chain. These, in addition to Action Plans, were aimed at assessing how to improve gender equality in alignment with Step 2: Identify and Assess Adverse Impacts of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process.

In 2013, Nestlé commissioned the Fair Labour Association to map the role and risks of women farmers in the Côte d’Ivoire supply chain. This report highlighted some key issues affecting these women. 93% of women reported working within the cocoa sector, yet their work was not being formally recognised and hardly any women were in leadership positions. There were also additional barriers to women farmers’ success in the sector such as the added burden of being solely responsible for household work and care.

This resulted in Nestlé launching Action Plans to help mitigate these adverse circumstances as seen in their Nestlé Cocoa Plan and Rural Development Framework.

Actions undertaken

Thanks to the report highlighting the key risks areas for women in the supply chain, Nestlé could determine a tri-focal action plan.

Promoting equal opportunities: Nestlé worked with their suppliers to organise gender training for all cooperatives, including field staff, in the Côte d’Ivoire Nestlé Cocoa Plan. This involved challenging perceptions of women’s role in the cocoa sector and encouraged more leadership positions to be given to women.

Giving women a voice: Local women’s associations were established with the support of Nestlé. The enterprise also facilitated further training on topics emphasised by these associations such as health.

Helping to increase women’s income: The average woman in cocoa-growing communities works 16 hours per day, including household work, farm work and other income-based activities. The report emphasised the need for supplementing their income and Nestlé responded by supporting improved food production by women, both for their families and for sale.

“93% of women reported working within the cocoa sector, yet their work was not being formally recognised and hardly any women were in leadership positions.”


Nestlé’s 2019 annual progress report indicated a number of results from their focus on gender equality. Namely:

  • Women farmers in the cocoa supply chain remained at 7%.
  • The land they own increased from 7% to 12%.
  • Women in leadership positions in the cocoa cooperatives increased from 8% to 17%.

“Building gender equality and supporting women’s rights, education and empowerment are critical to creating shared value for our business.”

Application to other enterprises

Women’s Economic Resilience (WER) continues to be a focus for Nestlé’s current Cocoa Plan. The enterprise is investing in programmes that equip women to diversify into fruit and vegetable farming amongst others. Nestlé also extended their commitment to WER through their 2016 Action Plan focused on women cocoa farmers in Ghana. They have endeavoured to identify all of the adverse impacts with a gendered lens which aligns them with Step 2 of the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence process. This process and example can and should be applied to other enterprises across sectors as it not only improves the wellbeing of the women in the supply chain, but also reduces the adverse impacts of the enterprise as a whole.

This case study was written in collaboration with Plan International and Partnering for Social Impact.