companies that are leaders in sustainability and corporate governance. Launched in 2001, the ethical
Fund earned returns as high as 324 percent through
2006, compared to the 292.6 percent registered over
the same period by the BovesPA index, the principal
index of the são Paulo stock exchange. thanks to
such performance, the assets managed by the ethical
Fund totaled $370.7 million by october 2007.
the investment in social responsibility and sustainability also contributed to the tremendous valorization of the ABn AMro real as a name brand. Last
year, when an opinion survey indicated that ABn
AMro real had consolidated its image as a sustainable bank, its brand worth was assessed at $834 million by consulting firm Brand Analytics—more than
twice as high as the previous assessment.
Victor r. caiVano/aP ( 2)
ABn AMro real now faces the challenge of navigating a scenario of change that does not necessarily include a sustainable agenda. in october 2007, the
bank was purchased by Banco santander of spain,
an institution whose sustainability ranking is much
more modest than ABn AMro real. how this merger
will play out is still unknown—it can either help create an interesting new model or it might even undo
years of progress.
Brazil’s internal CSR challenge: until the construction of
the water tower on the left, residents of Guaribas, in one
of the country’s poorest states, had no running water.
Not everything is rosy, however,
in the Brazilian corporate world. ricardo
young reminds us that there is still a discrepancy between the need for change and
the speed at which it occurs. A good example of this
is how firms dealt with the risk of climate change.
Companies have only decided to develop strategies to
reduce the damages now that the problem has reached
a critical level. even so, adds young, “many talk about
the challenges but don’t act on them.”
Proof of this is a survey done by iBoPe (a public
opinion and market research firm) that ethos recently
released. About 500 Brazilian executives—mainly in
top management positions—were interviewed to find
out how they understand and carry out sustainable
development. the results show that the path ahead
will be long. two-thirds proved to be reasonably well
informed about the subject, and almost half said that
their companies have Csr policies. But only one-third
said Csr is actually part of their strategy.
As a matter of fact, the same disparities can be
found among Brazilian companies as in Brazilian
society at large. the inequalities are tremendous,
and different levels of engagement exist throughout
the country. “this is a country that has great discrep-ancies, where slave labor and responsible corporate
governance coexist,” says Paulo Branco, director of
ekobé, an education and consulting firm that focus-