Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Week Inauguration
Ambassador Jean Manes
Monday, July 10, 2017, 8:00 A.M., FEPADE
Remarks by Ambassador Jean Manes at the Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Week Inauguration
July 10, 2017
* This is a courtesy translation. Only the original Spanish version should be considered authoritative.
Today we inaugurate the fifth edition of 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Week. In recent years, corporate social responsibility has evolved. And the most competitive companies have embraced corporate social responsibility as the core of the company.
This commitment on behalf of the private company for their community, encourages the joint work of the private sector, the Government, civil society and international cooperation. Something fundamental for the sustainable development of El Salvador, a country that must seek to increase its global competitiveness and become more attractive to foreign investment.
At the recent Conference on Prosperity and Security for Central America which took place in Miami last month, there was unprecedented participation from not only my government and the countries of the northern triangle, but also from Panama, Costa Rica , Colombia, Chile, Canada, Belize, Spain, the European Union and Mexico.
We are in a propitious moment for change. A moment where El Salvador and the region have the attention and support of the world. During the conference two major issues were identified that needed immediate attention. Improve customs systems and job creation, and it is in the latter where private companies can take center stage.
When the private sector takes its leadership to implement fairer hiring measures, it promotes the education and advancement of its employees, equality and the empowerment of women. And this in turn allows us to start a transformation process that will achieve Sustainable Development Goals as well as a positive change in the direction of El Salvador.
I would like to thank the efforts of companies, both Americans and Salvadorans, in prioritizing CSR as a way to improve the quality of life of Salvadoran families.
Among many examples we have League Collegiate Outfitters, who provide opportunities for people with disabilities. But they also offer a second chance to former gang members and thus support to break the cycle of violence. And I want to share a little story this morning because when I had just arrived in the country, I had already heard about League’s work in El Salvador. And, you know me, I prefer to see things with my own eyes. And I asked my team back then to please arrange a visit to go see what they were doing. And my team told me: wait. Wait? But I want to go this weekend! And they said to me: no, wait. Wait until you get so frustrated with things not moving forward. And then do the visit, because it will lift your spirit.
After six months of being here I had a very difficult week, where I felt that instead of taking three steps forward we were taking one step back, and I called my team again and told them that I needed to go to the League. And when I did the visit, I realized that my team had been right. When I came to see the company, I saw how they were doing this work, not from a separate office that dealt with CSR, but instead, they had incorporated CSR into their business model.
From the moment you take the first step to the League factory, you can see that CSR is present in all aspects, such as the people with disabilities they are hiring. People who cannot hear or speak and who occupy positions such as the head of graphic design. From that moment on, the company is saying to each person who works there: you are worth it. You are someone important.
From the very first day, they are saying to their employees: we expect more from you. We believe in you. We don’t want to see you working here in 30 years. The most we want you here is 3 years because we think you can study, you can get your degree, and from there you can move on.
League is creating this atmosphere of hope that young people ask for and that I think is a challenge for all the companies that are here. It is a challenge to face alongside your team and during this week ask yourselves if there is anything else that you could be doing. It’s not about doing more projects alongside your company, but rather changing your business model entirely, to include the concept of CSR in a more central way. League received the Corporate Excellence Award last year. An annual award that can be received by American companies that are representing our country well. I wanted to share this story because I believe that everyone here also believes that more is possible.
Like Hanes Brand who invests in school renovations or Kimberly Clark, who financed an industrial technical degree in San Juan Opico. Like Indufoam, which has invested more than a million dollars in two institutes in Ciudad Arce and in scholarships for young people. And, of course, the Supérate education program promoted by the Sagrera Palomo Foundation, the ADOC Foundation, the Salvadoran Sugar Company CASSA, the Fretch Foundation, the Poma Foundation and the Raíces Foundation, which has changed the lives of many young people. And TIGO and Microsoft, which have opened the world to many young people through computing and the Internet.
There are many more examples. In support of USAID projects alone, the private sector has provided more than $ 95 million. We have supported the efforts of FUNDEMAS and its allies to create safe and prosperous communities in which companies, committed to Corporate Social Responsibility, work and impact lives.
Today’s consumers expect more from private business. They are a generation of socially conscious consumers, committed to their communities and looking for companies that share those values. These practices should not be the exception and I call on more companies to join this movement. To include vulnerable groups and to promote the employability of young Salvadorans.
El Salvador has a gold mine in its youth. We have to take advantage of these young people and work together to prepare the workforce of the future and create the conditions for the development of the Salvadoran dream. Because this positive change for which we are working together, needs everyone’s participation. And the United States Government will support initiatives like this that allow comprehensive changes in society, that develop solid foundations for inclusive economic growth and that, in turn, propose areas of collaborative action on issues such as economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice.
To create a stronger, safer, more prosperous El Salvador with opportunities for all.