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Second CSR training for Colombian SMEs

Corporate Social Responsibility programme Colombia

The last months the companies in the CBI’s Colombia Country Programme have been working on their Corporate Social Responsibility  (CSR) plans. Companies from the fresh fruit, flowers, coffee and natural ingredients sectors participated in two trainings provided by BSD Consulting Colombia in the city of their choosing (Medellin, Pereira or Bogotá). During the trainings they were introduced to CSR topics such as labour conditions, health and safety at work, the environment, responsibility in their supply chains.

During the first training, they have learned that their company is able to benefit from improving CSR issues and how to use this for communication with (future) clients. Participants stated “we learned about the benefits of working on CSR for our company, that it helps to distinguish ourselves.” As a first step, companies were asked to do a materiality analysis, which means that they had to select from a list of eight themes and around 30 subthemes, those topics that the company cares most about, can have an important influence on and can distinguish itself with. The sector experts have also indicated which topics are important for companies in specific sectors in Colombia from a stakeholder perspective (e.g. importer, government, NGO, employee). These two scores were matched to identify material topics on which they do a self-assessment to see where they stand at the moment and what can still be improved.

After this first analysis, it was time to identify some risks and opportunities to get more focus in their CSR plans. Participants also mentioned that “the training helped to prioritise the most relevant CSR aspects that have most impact on our company.” Risks are issues that are important to the company but that they still don’t score too well on in the self-assessment. Risks require some short-term goals and actions. Opportunities refer to themes in which the company is already performing better and that really relate to their core business. Defining a CSR value proposition means that you look at the core themes, related to the core business, and explain how your company distinguishes itself by working on them. This value proposition is important to be linked to an export marketing strategy. Some companies expressed the concern that “clients need to understand that CSR implies a considerable investment from us, so it is important that clients not only require CSR criteria, but are also willing to pay a better price for our product.”

Finally, with the focussed CSR plan defined, the companies developed specific actions to achieve their goals in set timelines, with a budget and person responsible to further outline their plans. After the training the companies came to the conclusion that “CSR should be part of the strategic planning of the company”

Currently, the trainers from BSD Consulting are visiting each company to discuss the value proposition and CSR action plans with the whole team to validate and finalize them

Soon we expect their CSR plans to be ready to be shared within in the company and for them to be able communicate externally on the main parts of their plan. Stay tuned to find out more!