For the International Day of Beneficence, September 5, this newspaper consulted with multinationals, corporations and local private companies on their initiatives to improve the quality of life of society. Their strategies go beyond donations.
At present, the industries are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on issues of health, education, gender equity and care of the planet. Álex Maiza fulfilled his life’s dream by going to an NBA basketball game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls. At 18, it was the first time he got on a plane and left the country. Neither the thyroid cancer nor the malignant tumors that invade his lungs prevented him from enjoying that moment.
“I forgot my illness and I have more happy memories,” confesses the Ambateño. He was part of the initiative of the American Airlines (AA) airline, which every year joins forces with the Cecilia Rivadeneira Foundation to take 10 Ecuadorian children and young people suffering from terminal illnesses to the United States. This is part of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that private companies have.
On September 5, the International Day of Charity is celebrated, which was created by the United Nations (UN) World Organization. This international organization points out the importance of companies doing more civic work. This CSR is aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to reduce poverty, have quality education, decent work, health and well-being, responsible production and consumption, gender equality, care of the planet, others.
In Ecuador, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census in 2016, there were 843,745 companies. Although there is no study of how many of them have CSR programs, some already have specific actions and others with plans aligned to their businesses. To comply with the RSE, the airline American Airlines supports the social efforts of the Cecilia Rivadeneira Foundation.
Edwin Rincón, commercial manager of AA, says: “The foundation presents the cases and we choose the ones that move us the most”. Another example is that of the Favorite Corporation. Since 2013, it has supported more than 10,500 entrepreneurs as part of the “Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation”.
This is part of the “Re-Emprende” program to leverage small entrepreneurs affected by the 2016 earthquake. Evangelina Gómez, director of the Ecuadorian Consortium of Social Responsibility (Ceres), explains that this network was born after an analysis of CSR in Ecuador. “13 years ago the companies of the country did only social action. Some had their own foundations to give donations at Christmas or punctual aid to schools for example, but they lacked strategic focus “, adds Gómez.
Another company that complies with Corporate Social Responsibility is Pintulac, which promotes initiatives to improve vulnerable areas. After the 2016 earthquake, the firm donated 50 houses in the provinces of Esmeraldas and Manabí, which suffered earthquake damage.
What do companies gain by having a CSR plan?
According to the Consultancy for the gathering of information on CSR in Ecuador, carried out in 2012 by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation, Ceres and the Codespa Foundation, companies are not only recognized for their social assistance. They also generate strategic alliances with the State and other companies, trust in suppliers, greater efficiency of resources, risk management and foster a sense of belonging in their employees.
Another example is Bayer, a global research industry focused on health and agriculture. It has several CSR plans that include welfare and education. One of them is “Agrovida”, with which in 2017 it trained 6,491 farmers on the proper use of products for the protection of crops. The Corporación del Grupo Fybeca also has among its CSR strategies the project “Lives with Purpose”, to sensitize the 1,300 girls and adolescents who study in the Santa Luisa de Marillac Educational Unit, in Guayaquil and their parents and teachers about sexual violence, abuse and mistreatment rector of the institution, says that thanks to the training the number of teenage pregnancies in that educational unit, in the girls of the third year of high school, went from six, to zero in one year.
“The students learn to take care of themselves and they are encouraged to have an enterprise and generate employment,” she says. Rina Marcillo, 20, is one of the 100 beneficiaries of the educational development support program of the Andean Union of Cements (Unacem). She belongs to the indigenous community of Quichinche, in Imbabura and has three semesters as an anthropology fellow at the San Francisco University.
The program has academic scholarships for basic, secondary and higher education. Unacem covers 100% of tuition and signed an agreement with the University’s Ethnic Diversity Program to continue with the long-term plan.
La Fabril, which was created in 1935, is another private company that has Corporate Social Responsibility. This institution is dedicated to the manufacture of fats, oils and personal care products. It has plans for environmental care, protection of employees and support to surrounding communities.
Santiago Palacios, of La Fabril, points out that Ecuadorian companies are already strengthening the responsible use of their resources to become sustainable. “This awareness is also to understand that we are part of a community and that we must contribute to its growth.” Although companies in Ecuador are directed towards CSR, focused on the community, they still need to be given more importance.
That explains Carlos Zaldumbide, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Quito. Most small, medium and large companies should put more emphasis on CSR to grow as businesses. “International clients put very high standards on this issue to be able to export.
Quality is not only important, but also the business social part in relation to labor issues, ethics, transparency, “he argues. In these demands are precisely the fight against corruption and compliance with workers’ labor rights: adequate wages and fair trade in the productive chain, he adds. (I)