Veolia Water and Suez Environnement manage drinking water supply not only in France but also across the globe. They have developed a series of social performance indicators that have been used in their sustainable development reports since 2002. This paper examines to what extent the publication of these indicators and conventions has changed their social policy regarding notably equal opportunity between men and women, employment (number of employees and quality of employment), the employment of handicapped people and occupational safety. It then analyses the existing gap between local and global social indicators, using the example of employment in a water company in Berlin (Berliner Wasserbetriebe). The informational and self-regulatory function of these social performance indicators is discussed, and potential strategies for improving the effectiveness of performance indicators are suggested.