The first panel of SABF 2010 aimed to define, based on the experiences of its speakers, strategies and optimal policies for a company to increase the trend towards sustainable businesses from South American region. In order to do so, this panel was moderated by José Luis Roces, vice-rector of Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires, and had among its presentations, the ones from Otmar Hübscher, CEO of Grupo Minetti in Argentina, and Santiago Ardissone, Banco Columbia’s chairman.

In his speech, José Luis Roces made an introduction presenting the evolution of companies regarding Corporate Social Responsibility and the different paradigms in the last 25 years. Companies had moved from having an economic role to having a social role

Santiago Ardissone, President of Banco Columbia S.A. and Columbia Microcréditos S.A. told the story of the microfinance bank at the Banco Columbia to improve people with low resources’ quality life. The experiences with microfinances around the world showed that being socially responsible providing micro-loans to people is not only good for society, but it is also a good business.

To continue, Otmar Hüscher, CEO of Grupo Minetti, presented the Vision of the company to show how the CSR is integrated with the core business of the company: “To stablish solid bases for the future of society”. He stated that companies are the main tool to ensure the correct distribution of resources.

Conscious about the emissions of CO2 of the company, Hüscher showed the statistics where the emissions of Minetti were decreasing year after year and they committed to reducing those up to a 25% per ton in 2010. Hüscher stated that it is very hard to convince others to be socially responsible. The market does not take it into account at this moment.

The real question, according to Hübscher, is “how do we change the behavior of the employees?”. Higher positions have to be aware of the problem, measure it and set objectives to achieve. Documentation of processes, communication, training and punishments are needed to teach employees how to reduce injuries and fatalities in the working field.

Banco Columbia and Grupo Minetti are two outstanding examples of what being socially responsible actually means. Commitment, hard work and empathy are some of the words that reflect what the panelists communicated all along their presentations. Hübscher and Ardissone had given key points regarding what to be done by companies to be aware of the problems the society and the world are facing to ensure the sustainability of their businesses, their communities and the whole world.

Jose Luis Roces closed with a summary underlining that “no company survives in a failed society and without a strong and healthy economy”.