The socio-environmental footprint
Energy efficiency, water savings, social integration and gender equity are some of the already common banners to large corporations. The effort now goes to converge these initiatives to the core business.September-November | 2018
“When you have a lot of power, you have a lot of duty. And the homework is about social inclusion and the environment.” The motto, created by L’Oréal Brazil’s Director of Sustainability, Maya Colombani, reverberates the trend increasingly seen in the Brazilian corporate environment, of approaching core business and socio-environmental goals. “There is a consensus that we must incorporate the principles of sustainability into business”, says Deloitte’s lead partner for Government & Public Services in Brazil, Elias de Souza. The 3Ps (People, Planet, Profit) are no longer a fad that brings the most engaged organizations to the headlines, but a solid and comprehensive concept that leads them to calculate, at the tip of the pencil, investments in efficient and beneficial processes both for themselves and for the planet and society.
The new generations pay a lot of attention to social impact issues. They condition consumption to the philosophy adopted by the companies and require them to clearly position themselves on the existing environmental dilemmas., Elias de Souza, Deloitte's lead partner for Government & Public Services in Brazil.
At PepsiCo, the “Women with Purpose” initiative — newly established in Brazil in partnership with Fundes (Foundation for Sustainable Development in Latin America) after having been implemented in Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia – will consume US$ 1.8 million in the next five years. It consists in promoting gender equity in the country, offering education, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities to around 2,000 women in situations of social risk – starting in São Paulo, where, by the end of the year, 400 of them, at least half, black women – will receive training.
According to Cristiane Lopes, PepsiCo’s Corporate Citizenship Manager, “Diversity and engagement are core values for the company and how it acts as a global corporate citizen.” Gender equality, which, as she recalls, is associated with the UN Millennium Development Goals, is part of a larger agenda, the Women with Purpose program, to which the company has set aside US$ 100 million by 2025 to support 12.5 million women worldwide.
The importance of the resources allocated shows that it is not about charity: “Gender equality has had advances in the Brazilian society and is something we promote in our organizational structure”, says Cristiane, noting that women occupy 43% of the leadership positions in the Brazilian branch. Moreover, she explains, the belief in the social benefits of gender equity “is not a creation of ours”: “Studies show that US$ 12 trillion can be added to global GDP by 2025 if we commit to the advancement of gender equality.”
Like PepsiCo, the sustainability has an economical basis on Mexichem Brasil, owner of the Amanco brand, which manufactures plastic pipes. “Amanco has been known as the brand of innovation since it was launched in Brazil 12 years ago. This is part of our values and business strategy”, summarizes Fábia Guerra, responsible for the group’s Marketing and Communication area. “And one of the differentiators of our growth process is a triple bottom line management, supported by the pillars of sustainability, brand, innovation, people, services and operational efficiency.”
According to these guidelines, she says, “since water flow is the main reason for our operations, we have chosen to work on different initiatives aimed at preserving water resources on the planet, impacting society as a whole. We have started with an internal water-saving program that has generated 17% less demand in the seven factories in the last two years.” Alongside this, since 2017 Amanco has collaborated with Moradigna, a social business whose objective is to eradicate the noxiousness of houses located in regions in need and affected by mold and humidity, to donate products for the renovations and to promote training courses. In this first phase of the project, one hundred works were contemplated in the neighborhoods of Itaim Paulista and Jardim Pantanal, in São Paulo; by 2020, the goal is to benefit 3,000 families.
Model in check
For the future of factory activities, which rely on natural resources to maintain themselves, the scenario is not the best. Everything indicates that the partnership with the planet is shrinking: by 2050, the current population of the planet, estimated at 7.6 billion, will be added by another 2 billion people, according to the UN, and they will need more electricity, water and food. Nonetheless, non-renewable resources are already insufficient. It would take 1.7 planet to meet the current demand for inputs.
Perspectives such as the urban housing explosion and the emergence of new pests and diseases due to global warming are putting the model of extraction, manufacturing, consumption and disposal in check, as it is pointed out as responsible for the ongoing environmental degradation. The social pressure on big corporations has never been so effective. Attentive to this reality, they have been promoting a true internal green revolution, in a race for sustainability never seen before.
The transformation of Schneider Electric over the last 170 years mirrors this condition. Focused initially on the steel extraction, the company took over the production of electricity distribution equipment and operates today in line with the concept of Industry 4.0. “Schneider’s own business is sustainability” says Regina Magalhães, Sustainability & Innovation manager for South America. “And sustainability is not philanthropy; it is a business strategy. Our core business is to promote energy efficiency and low carbon emissions.”
The challenge of the company is immense, says the executive: by 2020, 30 billion devices with web access should increase energy consumption by 50%. To counterbalance, Schneider pursues increasingly bold solutions in power management and automation. “In 2016, we generated 3TWh-savings (Terawatt-hour) of energy to our customers, enough to supply 1.5 million homes during a year”, estimates Regina. “It means R$ 1.28 billion that are no longer spent, enough to modernize 300 thousand public lighting points in Rio de Janeiro”, she says, noting that “more than 381 thousand tons of CO2 are also no longer disposed into the atmosphere, the equivalent to what 140,000 cars release in the environment each year.
To measure its commitment to sustainable development, Schneider Electric also makes use of a set of internal global performance indicators, the Planet & Society Barometer. The financial and non-financial results obtained in 2017 exceeded the targets, according to Regina. Example: the parameter “10% reduction in CO2 emission in transport”, which applies to short and long-distance freight and results from decision-making regarding the most cost-effective modal between foreign exchange savings and environmental restrictions, “went beyond the goal”. For the five-year period 2015-2020, the organization aims at even more ambitious results such as: working with 80% of renewable energy; saving the emission of 100 million tons in the atmosphere; avoiding the consumption of 100 thousand tons of primary resources through selective collection and recycling programs; and integrating 90% of the employees into the Schneider plan of gender pay equity.
Social and environmental symbiosis
L’Oréal is another company whose culture has imbued itself with good socio-environmental practices, incorporating them into the business strategy. “We do not just want to run our sustainability program; we want to experience it and transform our business. We are actors of change and a company that integrates with a more sustainable, responsible and inclusive future”, defines the Sustainability director Maya Colombani.
According to this vision, the organization chose climate change and social prominence as drivers to orchestrate a large number of actions aimed at zeroing the carbon emission in operations by 2020 and incorporating green electricity in all units by 2018. “Our commitments are non-negotiable”, says L’Oréal’s executive, who last year received Guia Exame’s Best Company in Climate Change award and today is part of a select group of 11 global companies that have made a commitment that all product packaging will be 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable up to 2025. For such, in addition to having managed to reduce water consumption by 42%, operations in Brazil already make use of certified sourced paper and sugar cane plastic packaging in all products of their professional line.
At the women’s service – and especially black women, who are always present in their campaigns – the company also invests in social prominence and gender equity. Integrating the international project of feminine and social inclusion of the L’Oréal Foundation (“Beauty for Better Life”), Casa das Belezas, in partnership with the Casa do Menor Institution – now also functioning at the Maré Complex in Rio de Janeiro –, aims to professionalize young people from poor communities who want to enter the hairdressing career.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO-ABC program for Women in Science, awarded annually to 15 young researchers from around the world who are pursuing a course of excellence in scientific research, allowed last year a Brazilian pharmaceutical chemistry, Rafaela Ferreira, to receive the global International Rising Talents award for her work on Chagas Disease.
“Making a relevant contribution to the well-being of humanity, in addition to profitability” is what moves Hewlett-Packard toward a circular economy ecosystem, says Kami Saidi, Supply Chain Director for Latin America. “Sustainability is a powerful force for innovation. It promotes progress in our business priorities”, he says. In 2004, he was appointed to orchestrate “the launch of the integrated sustainable management seed” at HP Brazil. He formed his Green Team, with 120 professionals, and invested in culture and organizational model.
“HP has always had a systemic concern with sustainability: among its questions are the carbon footprint, the type of employment that was created, and the destination of the generated waste. In the beginning, we talked about product quality; then we began to evaluate the environmental impact generated by the transportation of these same products; then we opened the discussion to the source of the resources used and now we talk about design for quality”, he explains.
Aware that the integration of sustainability with the business model should add a perceptible value to the consumer, Saidi has partnered with Akatu, an NGO that works in favor of conscious consumption, and started to take care of all the links of the productive chain under the lens of sustainable development. It instituted “Zero Waste”, aiming at a production model without generation of residues in landfills; the “HP Planet Partners”, of reverse logistics and recycling, and the “Smart Waste”, responsible for the measurement and better reuse of recycled raw materials in the company.
From the examples of these companies, there is no reason to assume that socio-environmental responsibility could fail to participate in the convergence movement that now encompasses all sectors of the economy and impacts the organizations’ own business strategy.