2nd Citizenship Award

 

EDP, UNICER and TNT won in the “Companies” category in the 2nd Citizenship Award for Companies and Organisations, organised by AESE and PwC. AMI, Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome de Lisboa and Associação Sócio-Cultural dos Deficientes de Trás-os-Montes were the NGOs recognised at the ceremony, which took place at AESE on 21 June.



Citizenship put to the test

 
Ramiro Martins, Professor and coordinator of the project for AESE, understands that the responsibilities of a company or organisation cannot be limited to the entity itself. Therefore, the institutions that are most successful in the application of their policies for social responsibility and sustainability, at the economic, social and environmental levels, and the NGOs with the best practice in using existing resources to meet their objective, are deserving of awards.


“The current challenges have a global dimension”, as “the impact somewhere in the world may have repercussions where they weren’t expected”. In fact, although there is now “a high level of awareness from Portuguese organisations with regard to their social responsibility, the path is still a long one. However, more and more remarkable examples are appearing, which are deserving of respect and distinction”. It should be noted that 55 entities participated in the first awards, a number which was eclipsed in 2007, with 98 companies and 42 NGOs competing. According to Ramiro Martins, “all of the institutions considered in the study have excellent and innovative initiatives, and they demonstrate that a great deal of work is done without the knowledge of the local community.” When questioned about the return for the organisations when they invest in socially responsible actions, the Professor stated that this series of initiatives is evident “in the satisfaction of human resources and in the reduction of medium- and long-term costs with regard to the environment, in addition to a non-negligible impact on public opinion that is conscious of and sensitive to these themes. Consumers are increasingly choosing those opting for best practice and rejecting the others.”


Business Schools have also contributed to the raising of awareness, incorporating ethics, justice and sustainability into training in best practice in management.


From participation to selection
 


As explained by the coordinator of the Award and Partner of PwC Rui Loureiro, from the analysis of the responses to the questionnaire completed by the officials and staff of the participating institutions, it can be concluded that there exists “a considerable distribution of realities with regard to social services. And, internally, the management of social aspects in the relationship between the organisation and its employees means that the reality is also quite varied.”


The selection of the winners of the Award was done by Jorge Jardim Gonçalves (President of the Jury), Manuela Eanes, Manuela Ferreira Leite, Isabel Canha, António Mexia, António Sousa, Carlos Borrego, Jorge Moreira da Silva and José Frias Gomes. The decision took into account the parameters set by SAM – Sustainable Asset Management and TSO – Third Sector Observatory.

Portuguese companies sensitive to sustainability Alexandra Reis, MBA AESE/IESE, presented the project, “Assessment of the social responsibility of 10 Companies from the PSI-20”, identifying the difficulties of companies listed in the stock exchange in complying with the recommendations of Accounting Standards, Corporate Governance, Performance Management, Best Practice and Sustainability.

Compared to the USA, where the recommendations are binding, things are much less rigorous in Portugal. However, companies with market capitalisation are increasingly complying due to the pressure that they face.


Pedro Arbués, Director of Investments at Espírito Santo Activos Financeiros, argues that “making good returns is possible using sustainable criteria.” The fund for financial assets of Grupo Espírito Santo was created three years ago, and today it can be said that “more companies are recognising the value of the best risk management, the anticipation of regulatory actions, the access to new markets and market segments, the ability to retain employees and greater recognition of the brand and reputation. Society is becoming more responsible and the concept is becoming global.

 


Doing what’s right

 
António Correia, Partner of PwC, views the issue of sustainability as a continuous exercise: “we must ask ourselves whether we are doing the right thing”, considering the harmonisation of the strategy with the topic, the investors and partners concerned, the reliable communication of specific initiatives and the transmission of a clear image of the results and impacts. “Sustainability needs to be seen as a core competency, which, through governance, enables and enhances the choice of each individual.”



Winners of the 2nd Citizenship Award
 


António Mexia of EDP, João Sampaio of Unicer and Ana Bernardo of TNT, representing the three companies that tied for the 2007 Citizenship Award, took the stage to accept the prize. António Mexia stated that “society depends on the quality of its institutions”. João Sampaio shared his belief that “if we didn’t think in the long term, we wouldn’t be here”, and Ana Bernardo revealed that the secret is to “promote these practices everyday”.


Fundação AMI, Associação Sócio-Cultural dos Deficientes de Trás-os-Montes and Banco Alimentar Contra a Fome de Lisboa were the NGOs recognised this year. Fernando Pereira da Silva stated that this award “will make it possible to fight more strongly to make a better world for people with disabilities”. And, more important than the visibility resulting from the practices implemented, Isabel Jonet stressed, “it must never be forgotten that people are at the heart of decisions.” The non-governmental organisations won a scholarship from AESE for an Executive Training Programme and consulting services from PwC for a programme of their choice.


The members of the jury awarded Honourable Mention, in the economic category, to Portugal Telecom and EFACEC, represented by Henrique Granadeiro and Luís Filipe Pereira, respectively. BCP, Grupo Auchan and IBM, represented by Filipe Pinhal, Jorge Filipe and José Joaquim Oliveira, received the awards in the social category. And, in the environmental category, Honourable Mention was awarded to Vodafone, represented by Ana Mesquita.