Companies can save the world!

11/04/2011 at 20:29 2 comentarios

The first goal of the United Nations Millenium Development program is to end poverty and hunger. This sounds like something that governments and NGOs are doing already (or should be doing). However, companies and citizens have an important role to play here too. In fact, businesses have tools to reach this goal in an efficient way, mainly through actions along their supply chain.

Both multinational corporations (MNC) and many small and medium entreprises (SMEs) are based in developing countries, or work with suppliers from these countries. What they do and how they do it has a tremendous impact on the lives of many people. Transforming their impact into something positive is not complex. Here are some simple ways how a company can contribute to end poverty and improve living conditions in developing countries:

  • MNC are often on the spotlight due to children labor controversy. Their responsibility is very high since they are also accountable for what their suppliers are doing. With suppliers mainly in India, Turkey and Bangladesh, the clothing retailer H&M knows this very well. This company has launched a program with UNICEF in order to protect the rights of children in cotton producing areas in southern India. Maybe that’s not enough, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  • Very often women are the ones who suffer most the consequences of poverty and exclusion, and most of the time it is due to discrimination and the lack of school education. NIKE supports “girl effect”, a program addressed to adolescent girls in developing countries aimed at improving their lives and giving them a chance for a better future. As NIKE states, “for girls in developing countries, the effects of poverty and lack of resources can often be seen through early marriage, childbirth and increased HIV infection rates. Such setbacks for women also impact their communities.”
  • Let’s take Coca-Cola. Reducing their water consumption is not only a question of sustainability but also a question of cost reduction. However, they are also aware of the fact that access to clean water is a big problem for many people. This problem affects health and complicates the lives of millions of Africans (mainly women), who have to go very long distances to get water for their daily consumption. Coca-Cola Company supports a project in Kenya to provide safe water to primary schools in Western Kenya.

These are examples of how companies can save the world and help eradicate poverty. Us, citizens and small businesses can do it too at our scale. Examples will follow soon.

You can save the world!

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Entry filed under: Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability.

What have I learnt from my GRI training? CSR in controversial sectors. Corporate responsibility or just a smoke curtain?

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Juan Villamayor

Consultor en Responsabilidad y Sostenibilidad Empresarial (RSE). Economista y MBA radicado en Barcelona, con un perfil eminentemente internacional.

Es posible generar más valor mientras se aplican principios éticos. Al final todos salen beneficiados: las empresas, la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Eso es lo que yo llamo "Negocios Con Sentido Común".

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