employees at interest rates well below market.
Attempts by large companies to engage their
business partners, however, are not without problems. “There are those that want to mobilize the value
chain without doing their part,” explains Paulo Branco. That’s the case with clients who refuse to buy from
suppliers who don’t pay their employees on the books
or who don’t control emission of greenhouse gases,
but they themselves are consistently delinquent in
paying for services. Delegating
responsibility in this case makes
very little sense.
The gooD news is
the increased awareness by businesses of
their social responsibilities. For Ricardo Young, the
Brazilian social and environmental context—the unequal concentration of income, abundant
biodiversity, the challenge of balanced development in the Amazon, and the country’s emergence as a world power
in agribusiness and renewable energy—will mandate
greater engagement. “what’s more, we already have
a media that is more sensitive and an organized civil
society that is attuned to the problem,” he believes.
The list of catalysts for greater corporate engagement in Brazil is long. institutional support in the
form of networking and circulating information on
best practices from organizations such as ethos is
important, as is the support of industry trade groups,
such as the Federação dos Bancos (Federation of Banks)
or the Associação Brasileira de Comunicação Empresarial (Brazilian Association of Corporate Communication). These entities have created awards and have
actively encouraged discussion about social responsibility among their members.
Companies also feel the pressure from banks as
monitoring of borrowers increases. Brazilian banks
are the only financial institutions in a developing
nation that signed the equator Principles—an international accord that seeks to raise the social and environmental standards for the approval of loans for
large-scale projects. Among the signatories are itaú,
Bradesco, Unibanco, and Banco do Brasil.
According to Branco, the banking industry is a
prominent force in the push to incorporate sustainability into corporate business practices. Another pressure
on businesses is the Índice de Sustentabilidade Empresarial (Corporate sustainability index—ise), launched
in 2005 by the são Paulo stock exchange. it is the first
Latin American index to track the return of a portfolio
of companies committed to sus-
tainability and social responsibil-
ity. it monitors the performance
of 33 companies from among the
150 with highest liquidity, with a
market value of $523 billion.
Deciding not to participate
in the index presents a problem
for companies that are seeking
recognition for social respon-
sibility. it is like having a label
that says: “you are not quite
there yet.” Branco describes
being approached by compa-
nies that wanted to be accept-
ed by the ise because of pressure from their boards.
“we explained that it’s not enough to comply with
the index’s checklist; the company must develop a
These different pressures helped create a model of
social responsibility with a uniquely Brazilian face.
This is now being exported to other countries on the
continent with the help of ngos, universities and
even the ethos institute. in partnership with the Avina
Foundation and others, ethos recently launched a program to encourage the creation of benchmarks, awards
and networks of CsR throughout Latin America. The
goal is to share expertise, accelerate trends and insert
the region, once and for all, into the debate.
The social, economic, cultural and ethnic diversity of Brazil has provided Brazilian companies with
the rare opportunity to test a great variety of solutions
in CsR. This mix has resulted in interesting models,
and created endless possibilities to reduce the country’s disparities—at least among corporations and in
the scope of their activities—and to share the experience abroad.
feel the pressure