there are notable examples of
large Latin American family
firms, a higher percentage of
family firms in the region fall
into the small firm category
where women may “inherit”
access to the highest tier of
In Latin America, while CSR
practices are gaining ground,
gender and diversity is not typ-
ically seen as a strong component. In the words of UN Global
Compact staff member Denise
O’Brien, there are excellent
examples of CSR in individual
company cases, but, with the
exception of Brazil, poor penetration of CSR practices across
the business sector. She notes
that 27 Latin American companies comply with the European Global Reporting Initiative,
compared with 336 in Europe
and 48 in Oceania. Three hundred and sixty-four Latin American companies have signed the Global Compact out
of close to 4,000. Ninety-seven companies in Latin
America have sought SA 8000 certification compared
with 373 in Europe. CSR practices among large companies in Latin America seem to rest heavily on community involvement. 6 Yet many aspects of the Latin
American landscape suggest strong potential rewards
for companies to pursue CSR by focusing more on
gender and diversity.
First, women in Latin
America are graduating with
degrees in business-related
fields in percentages equal
to or higher than men. Second, women’s recent success
in politics in Latin America
owes much to their outsider status. Their “otherness”
also makes them potentially
strong contributors to change,
flexibility and innovation in the private sector.
Third, mass consumer sectors where women typically make household purchasing decisions are
among the largest in the region. These three factors suggest there is a strong opportunity for Latin
American companies to improve both their financial and social performance through policies that
bring gender and diversity into the mainstream of
“Women in Mexico
may have a
1 Edith Orenstein, “The Business Case for Diversity,” Financial Executive 21( 4) (May 2005): 22-25.
2 Jack Gordon, “Diversity as a Business Driver,” Training 42( 5) (May 2005): 29.
3 David Thomas, “Diversity as Strategy,” Harvard Business Review 82( 9) (September 2004): 98.
4 Gordon, 28.
5 Gordon, 24-29.
6 Jeanne Logsdon, Douglas Thomas and Harry Van Buren III, “Corporate Social Responsibility in Large Mexican
Firms,” The Journal of Corporate Citizenship 21 (Spring 2006): 51-60; and Roberto Gutiérrez and Audra
Jones, “Corporate Social Responsibility in Latin America: An overview of its characteristics and effects on local
communities,” working paper presented at the “Workshop on Corporate Social Responsibility in the Promotion of
Social Development: Experiences from East Asia and Latin America.” Tokyo, Japan (July 2004).