Learning from Brazil: One of Canada’s leading agricultural competitors
2. Corporate Social Responsibility
The AME Alumni Class visited Brazil from February 4 – 16, 2014.
This is the second article in a series of three based on lessons learned.
The extraordinary pace of development in Brazil was an initial surprise. Having been in a number of developing countries over the years, we had in anticipation of what things would look like. They don’t! For the first several days, we were constantly amazed that none of our generalizations were even close to reality. Sao Paulo is a mammoth city, but all of the parts we drove in order modern, much like a number of European cities. One area we passed through had a row of car dealerships: Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Ferrari, etc.
Driving in the countryside in Parana was like driving on highways in southern Ontario (very different than Mato Grosso, where there is little pavement. Farmers often pay for developing the dirt roads and government is slow to invest in them.) Every city has multiple cranes on the horizon in every direction. It is simply not a developing country, largely because of the 228% increase in crop production since 1991. As already indicated, Parana has an unemployment rate of 4.8%.
Just as impressive as the material development is the development of corporate responsibility. Every organization we visited, whether it be a cooperative, a corporation, a corporate farm, or a local implement dealer included commentary about their corporate responsibility plan in their presentations, as a matter of course. After the initial surprise that they believed it was important enough to discuss, the second reaction was to test whether it was real or an exercise in political correctness. To illustrate, when one company explained their financing was done through a syndicate of domestic and international banks, we asked whether the syndicate required a social responsibility and environmental plan as fundamental to getting financing. The answer was that it was required, however the company’s standards far exceeded the bank requirement. The speaker went on to explain how much higher their standards were and what the company is actually doing in terms of community development, benefits for their own employees and contributions to the natural environment.
Once again we walked away with the impression that these areas are taken seriously, are standard practice, and that the standard is far above those of North America.