Bank of Best Practices
A special day for Social Responsibility
As culmination of the series of workshops and events held throughout the year, Ecopetrol organized the first forum devoted to delve, along with international experts, into the issues related to corporate responsibility and sustainabilit
In early November 2010, the group of leaders of Ecopetrol received a very special e-mail. It was a short video in which Colombian TV actor Julián Arango invited them to attend and participate in the First Forum on Corporate Responsibility organized by the company.
The event took place on November 18 at the Club Metropolitan in Bogotá and was attended by more than 250 leaders from regions throughout the country, representing the operations that Eopetrol carries out in its 284 production fields and 57 transportation stations.
Consisting of an academic session in the morning and a playful activity in the afternoon, the Forum stood out for the quality of the topics dealt with in the lectures and became the closing event of a series of presentations and workshops held throughout the year at the different facilities of the company on social responsibility all over the country.
The welcoming and opening speech was pronounced by Ecopetrol CEO, Javier Gutiérrez, who presented the guidelines and principles that underpin the strategic framework of the company and underscored the importance of leadership to corporate responsibility.
"When in the regions, people greet you, they are indeed greeting Ecopetrol. You must be convinced of replicating the leadership you are exercising, and the best way to do this is by being socially responsible", Gutiérrez pointed out.
Next, he explained that reputation is built every day, based on the perceptions that the others have of Ecopetrol. "What I think about what I?m doing is not important, but what the others think of my behavior. That is the true reputation." And in that regard, he recalled that Ecopetrol has developed a series of value promises, commitments and objectives with regard to each one of its seven groups of interest.
In his speech, Gutiérrez highlighted that the aim of each leader at Ecopetrol is reflected on the strategic framework and the role values like transparency, self-control and management assurance play." Just as you do with the operational subject, you should talk every day with your personnel about the topics which the company is working on, such as environment, groups of interest and social responsibility," Gutiérrez ended.
Later, the head of the Corporate Social Responsibility Unit, Marcela Fajardo, explained the relevance of the concept of sustainability, in addition to being an essential guideline that is included into the company´s strategic framework.
In this regard, Fajardo explained that sustainability is a business approach oriented toward generating value for shareholders and the other groups of interest in the long term, through risk management and corporate opportunities in three dimensions: economic, environmental and social.
As leader of the Process, Marcela Fajardo explained how Ecopetrol is assuring sustainability. She pointed out that by means of profitable growth, by applying codes of conduct and through corporate risk management and a proper management of the relations to customers, sustainability in economic terms is guaranteed.
Meanwhile, by applying notions like eco-efficiency, biodiversity, renewable energies and cleaner fuel refining, sustainability of Ecopetrol in environmental terms is assured.
Finally, she expressed that applying the principles 3 and 6 of the Worldwide Pact, the best labor practices are complied with, a proper management in terms of occupational health and safety is applied, quality standards are developed with contractors and a proper social management policy with communities is followed, within a framework of respect for human rights.
"Our aim is that by 2020, Ecopetrol is internationally recognized for its commitment to sustainable development", Fajardo concluded.
Subsequently, international speakers took the floor in the Forum. The first of them, Mexico´s Salvador Apud, highlighted the importance of groups of interest to influence operations and reputation of organizations.
In this regard, he provided the example of the impact on BP?s image of the environmental disaster resulting from the improper operation of one of BP´s production platforms.
In the morning session of the Forum, Brazil´s Izeusse Braga, corporate leader of International Communications at Petrobras, presented the challenges faced by globally responsible leaders, especially those in developing countries.
He emphatically assured that corporate social responsibility is the management model that leads to sustainability and that helps companies guarantee business success within a long-term perspective.
Braga presented the results of the most complete survey conducted in July 2010 on sustainability among more than 1,000 executives, businesspersons, members of the civil society and academic experts from over 100 countries.
For instance, 96% of CEOs believe that issues related to sustainability should be fully integrated into the strategy and operations of companies. Furthermore, 72% of them believe that brand, confidence and reputation are the three main factors prompting actions of companies in relation to sustainability.
Precisely, referring to the value of confidence, the next speaker at the Forum, Colombia´s Gabriel Mesa, pointed out that, in the case of Ecopetrol and of any company, what groups of interest expect from them is that they sell confidence.
In his opinion, when a customer buys an Ecopetrol product, said customer is buying confidence, but there is a gigantic market niche consisting of the groups of interest that have specialized in buying an intangible value such as confidence.
"Confidence buyers demand nutritions facts, i.e. everything that is inside the product," Mesa explained and added that demanding consumers want to be assured that the product does not have behind child labor or that it is supported by a company respectful of its workers.
Mesa highlighted the significance of taking into account labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) to develop a good brand and product reputation.
Finally, the academic session was closed by the presentation by Venezuela?s Ítalo Pizolante, who assured that the three characteristics that should distinguish socially responsible leaders are: strategic planning, systemic thinking and project management.
The afternoon session of the Corporate Responsibility Forum was devoted to enjoyment. At that session, Julián Arango offered a performance of stand-up comedy in which, he made a humorous recount of his artistic career and caricaturized some stages of his life in which he lost control and only followed suggestions by his friends, parents or managers.
With the message "do what you do best and not what others want you to do," the actor left a smile on the faces of the audience who then were given t-shirts allusive to the importance of having socially responsible leaders at Ecopetrol.