María Silvia Pineda | CSR and Sustainable Business Models: A step towards the Constitution of the Rights of Mother
We are very grateful for the invitation, it is an honor to be here this afternoon especially thinking about what... we are thinking about a Summit for Peace and that we are also visualizing the approach from the family.
And really personally and professionally, I am an absolute believer that the unity of the family or the cell of society, primarily speaking, must be the family and perhaps it is what we should turn to see as that ethical background discussed in the panel previous, where one learns to do things by example; and then it is where one grows with those values and those habits that in the end allow us to be responsible.
I would then like to comment first, Greco, on what do we understand by Corporate Social Responsibility? And we from the moment we expressed it in the sugar world, we first recognized that we were going to talk about companies and that the companies, per se, do not exist if they do not have people to execute actions.
That, therefore, we were going to talk about companies that had the capacity to have people that comply with the law and make decisions every day with adherence to ethics, because in the end, that social responsibility of the people allows for the construction of that reputation every day with our behavior, and that in the end also gives us the path to the famous sustainability that we talk so much about today.
And in this case I allow myself, perhaps, to put as a pedestrian example, if you will, the topic that if you are at a party and want to be sustainable you have to be responsible with the alcoholic drink, no? In the end, it’s the same in a company: If I want to be sustainable, I have to be responsible with my behavior every day; because the reputation is not given to me by the image nor by the publicity, it will be given by the behavior of each of my clients, of each of my suppliers, and of my collaborators.
Therefore, the responsibility in the industry was drawn at that time in 1998, and in fact today we have the satisfaction and the great responsibility and the great commitment of having been some of those that formed CentraRSE; and that's why it caught our attention today to come here and learn more about the issue of social responsibility.
At that time, we talked about two areas of the company: The internal environment, which is nothing more than what I am going to have in my organization, physically speaking, and that I am going to manifest today more than ever, especially in countries in Latin America, where informality is what absorbs the economy the most, speaking of legally constituted companies that have the capacity to fulfill commitments.
And the second area we see as the ability of the human person within my company to develop, to grow, to develop, to expand; and therefore, I must give them decent and proper working conditions.
And that was a challenge for the agricultural issue, because to speak of dignified and decent employment was to stop believing in those false economies, where informality, not paying minimum wage, not respecting the environment, were economic advantages. It had to be recognized that they could not continue to be economic advantages from the agricultural sustainability standpoint.
Then we passed to the external environment and in the external environment we see that we automatically go to the projection of the family, to the projection of the community, and to the participation of the execution and the design of state policies; because after all, we are immersed in a state, in a republican model, and in a free market model. Therefore, we have to speak of individual citizenship, of corporate citizenship, and therefore of exercising a corporate citizenship, through each of our collaborators.
In the end, each of these things in sugar has its own disposition and its own metric and was (sorry, I do not know if I can pass…)
In the end, what we see is… how we sold then to the sugar sector what social responsibility was; it was not to donate, it was not to paint schools, it was not to give computers; if we could do that well, that’s good! If we could participate in that, we had to do it within state policies to strengthen the State's institutions, so that the State would function in each of the rural communities in which we work.
Therefore, we launched the idea that Corporate Social Responsibility was the company's ability to respond to society, to how it produces what it is delivering to the market, with whom it is produced it, and under what conditions it is producing and negotiating it; and that is nothing more than having the legitimacy to say, “I comply with the law, I comply with ethics.” And if I do not meet it, assume the answer in which my weakness is happening.
Having this clarity, we also had to think that we were talking about a business and therefore we are talking about a business, this was in 1998, and we had to clearly express that the company had to visualize itself as a company where the capital move, yes?
But we have always thought that the success of a company is if the financial capital gives me blue numbers, not red numbers. So, we raised four capitals very quickly: Environmental capital as a sustainable agriculture, the proper management of waste, and the rational use of resources.
But all this has metrics, has complete regulation, has institutional policies ,that leave the will and freedom on one side and they become mandatory issues; they have to be fulfilled by all of us who work in the industry, and for that there is training, there is a model of regulations that lead us to comply in each of the processes what it is that has to be done.
Then we move on to productive capital, to think that in order to attract human capital we had to talk about access to basic services in urban and rural areas. Today we talk a lot about the attraction of capital and globalization and the economies that are changing and we had to think that, at least in Guatemala, it was necessary to recognize that basic services, even if they are rural, does not mean that they are not present; we had to also join efforts with the municipalities and local governments.
Third, social capital: The social capital which is the capacity to build trust, to produce security, social cohesion, and to start talking about public-private partnerships, where corporate citizenship plays a fundamental role in the social agenda of the country.
But I repeat: Not as philanthropy, nor as charity, nor delivering checks, but really wetting our boots and entering the communities to understand the cultural relevance; to talk about, as was said a moment ago of a Mother Earth, that in the end is the... this is Mother Earth; it is in the context in which we are.
Fourth (okay) capital is human capital, the ability to generate knowledge, not to continue believing that the individual who is illiterate will be cheaper and so I don’t have to pay them. It’s thinking about training, develop, and have human capital that has the ability to transform their knowledge into products and added value; and above all research and development with a humanistic approach.
Why is this strategic? Well, it is strategic because first it is measurable, today it is enforceable in society, and also constitutes a value that is measurable and verifiable. Why? Because it generates productivity; I can measure it: Customer loyalty, attraction of talents, good neighborliness and governance, image and reputation, access to markets, and therefore gives me a comparative advantage.
All this added and multiplied implies in the end that which allows me to have the famous sustainability. Each of these does not have an order, a before or after, but quite simply constitutes a business culture.
We are immersed in a changing world, the human being has always been in a world of changes and today, more than ever, we are the ones who produce the most waste; in fact I would like to know how much food was wasted today in the dishes and be able to weigh and measure it, how much waste we generated today.
And if we realize in the end, what we want is to see that the world is demanding many things from us and that social networks today, in a second, can destroy our reputation if we make a mistake. We are in the era of connectivity, we are in the era of a reputation that hangs by a thread, and by a tweet, and by a Facebook, by a moment in which someone says something and immediately we are on Instagram.
Therefore, what we see as a great challenge and is perhaps what we have assumed as a complete commitment within sugar, and it is that this changing world leads us to transcend and think, (let me… it’s not passing. Greco, it’s not my fault) leaves us at the end with a challenge: Which is the generation to which we are going to deliver that Mother Earth, if, at the end of the day, we are the individuals who build companies?
That individual, that child who is growing today, who is in school today, who is already a teenager, or that youth, the millennial or generation Z, must know the law, fulfill the law, value the human person, and of course do what is right, which is ethics.
All in all, the reflection that we have every day in sugar, is that if each one of us thought about being an ethical man or woman and tried to be so, we would have done a lot already, since at the end of it all, the sum of the behaviors in a company depend on each one of the individuals. Social responsibility is the ability to respond to society.