Corporate Responsibility: Challenges and Opportunities in Latin America

Patricia Salgar. Professor. IE Business School

11 February 2009

Although the economic crisis seems to have made the world lose touch with reality, Latin America is an oasis among the chaos. We should take advantage of this opportunity from a corporate responsibility perspective.

On 19 June the second edition of the IE Business Global Alumni Forum is set to take place in Cartagena de Indias. The event, which will focus on the subject of "Corporate Responsibility: Challenges and Opportunities in Latin America", will bring together 350 IE alumni, entrepreneurs and executives from different countries in the Latin America region and the rest of the world.

When choosing the subject for the forum, many ideas were put forward. Undoubtedly, the first was the world economic crisis. Amidst the uncertainty facing entrepreneurs, it seems reasonable for a group of academic experts and executives to analyse and suggest alternatives for overcoming the crisis. It is also true that the economic situation in Colombia and several countries of Latin America does not yet show any definite symptoms of deceleration. Indeed, it was the comment of one expert that made us think: "Why speak of crisis, if Colombia is an island in the middle of the chaos".

That was when we started to consider the challenges facing Latin American entrepreneurs in the crisis which can be turned into opportunities for development. The wealth of natural and labour resources are issues that always come up when the growth potential of Latin America is the subject of conversation. However, businesses face the challenge of implementing strategies to ensure that the best possible use is made of said resources, i.e. responsibly and sustainably, without affecting stakeholders´ interests.

In addition, the government faces the challenge of implementing policies that enable the implementation of these business strategies with a positive effect on society. In the case of Colombia for example, there is a need to develop policies for the integration of business and community, taking into account new players and others that have been transferred or demobilised. Issues like these currently constitute a social problem, and would make a good case study and example for the world.

Hence the Global Alumni Forum will provide platform for debate, reflection and networking. A platform where the experience of speakers such as Emilio Azcárraga Jean, President of Televisa, and Orlando Ayala, Senior Vice-president of Emerging Segments and Markets at Microsoft, will be combined with the opinions of IE experts in two key areas of corporate responsibility: social responsibility and corporate governance. It will also be a new opportunity for IE Business School Alumni to meet up with each other and with business and opinion leaders, given that today IE Alumni hold a privileged position among the executives and entrepreneurs of Latin America.

The academic experience of IE Business School in the area of corporate responsibility is huge. There are currently four centres devoted exclusively to research in corporate responsibility, the public sector, diversity and eco-intelligent management. The virtual platform for social impact management and the corporate responsibility blog also stand as focal points for permanent discussion and analysis. Finally, corporate responsibility is a core subject on every Master’s Degree programme at IE Business School and part of the business school´s day-to-day routine through initiatives such as the Corporate Ethics chair created by the Alumni Association and the IE professional code of conduct.

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