We are honored to feature Maria Paula Llosa as our guest writer on today’s blog. In this installment, Ms. Llosa discusses Corporate Social Responsibility, something that, as a consultant for corporate governance and sustainability, she has a lot of experience with.In Argentina, “sustainability” and “corporate social responsibility” are frequently used as synonyms. Corporations are key players in sustainability and must be considered one of the main drivers for the green economy. Sustainability is about balance, so if we want to analyze an organization’s sustainability, we need to understand how it balances its economic, social and environmental impacts, and what processes, mechanisms and structures will best improve its development. However, finding the right parameters to measure sustainability is a whole other challenge. In lawyer speak, it is like solving a case; we just need to pay attention to the facts.
In Argentina, there is no law that forces companies to report on CSR or sustainability, although there are some waiting to be passed within Congress. Nevertheless, many companies have their own reporting programs, which often follow set guidelines and standards. The most well-known guides on reporting sustainability have different approaches and should sometimes be combined.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) seems to be the most accurate guide, and it has also launched a guide on how to use the GRI guidelines in conjunction with the United Nations Global Compact Principles, or ISO 26000 – a set of standards which provide guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has also launched the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises for this purpose, but in my opinion they must be combined with the OECD Corporate Governance Principles in order to achieve sustainability. Any organization must have a strong corporate governance structure if it plans on improving its social responsibility or sustainable practices.
Sustainability reporting is especially important if you consider corporate policy to be a strong driver in achieving sustainable development. Corporations have the power to influence people; they are close to people’s lives, and they are everywhere. They compete one against the other and so they are already competing to be at the top of rankings by having better sustainability policies. However, I also believe that governments have to encourage those conducts with regulations. In both cases, it is clear that raising awareness about the importance of sustainability is an important underlying concept.
In my opinion, the environment has not changed that much over years. I am a lawyer and I have always shared the perception that laws must regulate real situations, whether we like them or not. Sustainable development is here to stay and should be considered a new way of thinking that combines the concepts of integration, systemic approach and interdisciplinary work. I also believe in human intelligence and its ability to overcome challenges, and develop solutions that are constantly changing and improving. That is why I think that we cannot define sustainability, we just have to start living according to it.
About María Paula Llosa
Maria Paula Llosa is an Argentinian lawyer specializing in environmental law. Ms. Llosa currently works as a program manager and consultant for corporate governance & sustainability at Cefeidas Group where she prepares assessments for public and private organizations. Ms. Llosa has a deep-seated interest in environmental matters and has been involved with several environmental NGOs. She also coordinated a National Network of Environmental Lawyers in Argentina and participated in an EU project on Climate Change in Buenos Aires. She also worked with a group of students on developing a business school program that includes sustainability topics, for the PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education) international competition. Ms. Llosa is currently working on a research project on "Integral Management of Mountain Environments" through the Universidad Catolica Argentina in Buenos Aires.