Interview with Angel Vespa
During the last decade of the twentieth century, the social responsibility of companies acquired rel-evance and was driven by the reduced role of the state as a regulator, the globalisation of markets and the consequent liberalisation of trade, communications, and new expectations of consumers and shareholders for companies to improve their social and environmental performance. Businesses began to realise that the implementation of policies and actions of social responsibility is a source of benefits in terms of reputation and corporate image.
The concept of corporate responsibility to society refers to a way of doing business that takes into account the social, environmental and economic impact of corporate actions, integrating into it the respect for ethical values, people, communities and the environment.
The concept of sustainable development is the cornerstone from which the concept of corporate social responsibility emerged. Sustainable development is defined by the UN as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Report entitled “Our Common Future” 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development.
The case of CSR in Bodega Chandon with Angel Vespa
Some claim that CSR came about in Argentina alongside the economic crisis of 2001, what is your opinion?
CSR existed prior to the economic crisis of 2001. A significant number of companies had already integrated CSR as an institutional value, with programs and targeted actions within the community, for sure after the crisis other new business joined. That is why CSR gained greater visibility.
What led you as a company to consider this as important?
In Bodegas Chandon we prefer to talk about the concept of “Sustainable Development”, based on “socially responsible management” based on three pillars: Economic, Environmental and Social.
From the beginning, Chandon always prioritised their workforce in all aspects for the development of their own personal growth.
Then we continued on a path of opening up to the Community near the winery and the vineyards of the business. Fundamentally, we value the opportunity to generate a link with our neighbours in actions that produce a better quality of life. Furthermore, we collaborate with institutions dedicated to Public Good, including: Amen (Association Against Multiple Sclerosis) Foundation Hospital Notti, Fombec, among others.
Since this approach to social responsibility and since 2002 we have focused on various educational programs.
What are these programs?
In order to achieve a greater impact and understanding of the value of education and development for our closer community, we are linked with 15 rural public schools located in the Valle de Uco, Luján and Maipú, near our winery and vineyards.
With the approval of the Education Ministry giving teachers credits for attendance and the en-dorsement of the National University of Cuyo facilitating teams of professionals, we annually train more than 50 teachers and 1,000 primary and secondary school students, specifically through two projects:
“My tree, my school and I” (6th Edition) which promotes the formation of tree nurseries in schools. Students guided by their teachers performed seed collection and the production process of various species. Each school has provided its nursery tree seedlings of different species for planting in vari-ous public spaces. This ensures an attitude of respect and appreciation for nature and its resources from an environmental and forest conscious point of view.
“Bunches of Colours” (10th Edition) promotes artistic and creative development in students. Teach-ers are trained in various art techniques, and also to facilitate the development of cognitive and so-cio-emotional skills in their students. Finally this project culminates with the completion of artwork by students which are reflected in Bodegas Chandon greeting cards.
To these two initiatives, we added the Project “New Bodega” (8th Edition), linked to our mother industry; viticulture.
Carried out by volunteers from the winery, sharing their expertise, students of schools are actively involved in the process of wine making, packaging and label design.
This project is accompanied by talks aimed at health care and responsible consumption, re-evaluating the culture of effort in our industry.
Finally, since 2011, we have been implementing the “Choir of Agrelo” for children between 7 and 12, who enjoy weekly music and theatre activities together with specialised teachers.
Do you think the implementation of policies and actions of social responsibility is a source of benefits in terms of reputation and corporate image for companies in general?
Undoubtedly these actions benefit the image of the businesses, but this doesn’t have to be the main reason for the development of these policies, its vital to understand that there are no successful companies in deteriorating communities, so anything that promotes the wellbeing of the community becomes a sustainable investment.
Do these projects impact the moment a consumer chooses the product?
No doubt this will happen in the short term, yet there is still much work to do. We must learn to communicate, the Company has not only to be sustainable, it must be “perceived” that way for all the communities with which it interacts.
Bodegas Chandon, has reached great importance under the program “Education in Harvest”, what does this initiative consist of?
The harvesters are used to taking their children to the vineyard at harvest time, exposing them to a variety of risks and accidents. Since 2006, Bodegas Chandon, has been going beyond the legal framework related to child labor, and has implemented a recreational education program for chil-dren of pickers at harvest time. It happens in Tupungato, during the month of February, when the children are not attending school.
By measuring the articulation of public and private funding, up to 100 children between the ages of 1 and 15 are moved from their rural homes to the nursery garden and sports centre of Tupungato, where they participate in sports and recreational activities. They also receive breakfast, lunch and medical checks.
This management associated with Bodegas Chandon involved: the Municipality of Tupungato, the Ministry of Sport and Recreation and the Ministry of Social Development of Mendoza.
From the year 2010 “Education in Harvest” prompted the creation of the Provincial Programme “Good Harvest” that replicates similar experiences in various areas of Mendoza where others also benefit.
What other businesses participate in this program?
After the first year and due to its positive impact, the following companies were motivated and joined the program: Bodega Catena Zapata, Canale Group (Alco) Shirley Hinojosa, Don Antonio Vineyards (Pulenta Brothers.).
We’ve also had the support and collaboration of Manpower throughout the years.
“Claudia Crisafulli Sustainable Consulting” specialising in CSR is responsible for the co-ordination.
Thanks to this project, do parents come back and choose Chandon farms to work at the following year?
No doubt, this program strengthens the employment relationship of the harvesters, the moms and dads, who can work in a concentrated way, knowing that their children are cared for and safe.
In addition, the kids wait expectantly for February and enjoy sports, especially swimming, and art workshops, music and dance.
And finally, the municipal and provincial government optimises its resources by providing access to the various educational and social services available.
This program has become a classic, where we all benefit.
Bodegas Chandon, integrates all of these projects to business growth in the context of sustainable development.
That is why an annual report is submitted to the Management Committee of the actions that have been developed to assess and measure the results, allowing them to see the changes that must be made for next year.
Bodega Chandon is one of the many companies that have projects of Corporate Social Responsibil-ity in the wine industry.
For CSR to have the expected outcome requires the community as a whole to work towards it and that arises from the management of the company. All members of the organisation in question should be knowledgeable and have a good understanding of the objectives that the projects are pur-suing. Thus, social responsibility will be credible and therefore sustainable over time.
It should be noted that any company carrying out CSR should also consider other aspects, no less important such as job discrimination, appropriate building conditions, good wages, training oppor-tunities and job growth, good working atmosphere, respect, ownership, valuation, among others.