Corporate sustainability and reporting for competitive business programme in Peru

CENTRUM PUCP and Global Reporting Initiative are honoured to receive the 2021 EFMD Excellence in Practice SILVER Award in the “Social and Environmental Impact” category. This article presents the key issues of the case study on the Corporate Sustainability and Reporting for Competitive Business Programme in Peru.

The challenge

On the part of GRI, ‘the Programme’s main challenges are increasing the productivity and competitiveness of participating companies, generating jobs, and contributing to better integration of SMEs in global value chains through sustainability reporting’, says Daniel Vargas, GRI Peru.

In this sense, CENTRUM PUCP was invited by GRI in 2018 to contribute to the Programme and be aware of its social responsibility as a business school; the decision was made to collaborate to fulfil the challenges set out. The contributions as an academic institution were in the specific area of learning and development, and two challenges were identified.

The first challenge relates to the transfer of knowledge and its application by SMEs in implementing sustainability reporting effectively. These challenges lie mainly in the group’s heterogeneity and geographical location, as the participants have quite different educational backgrounds and are located in other provinces of Peru.

Several teaching tools were used to reach the desired achievements and overcome the challenges, such as face-to-face workshops, materials development, online courses, and consultancies. As learning methodologies, group dynamics, case studies, and practical exercises were used. As a result, SMEs actively participated in the courses and applied the learnings appropriately, as attested in sustainability reports.

The second challenge was to get teachers and students involved in the Programme. The first awareness-raising strategies were to invite some professors to attend the first GRI workshops, bring GRI Peru’s director to meet them at CENTRUM PUCP, and ask them to participate in the activities. Concerning MBA students, meetings were held to present the Programme and invite them to participate. As a result, the involvement of seven professors and more than 100 MBA students was achieved.

Regarding the implementation process, it all starts when implementing partners and anchor companies invite their suppliers (SMEs), which belong to a local cluster, to participate in the Programme. In 2018, the Programme started in Peru with 72 SMEs, and by 2020, there are almost 1,000 SMEs and more than 30 anchor companies.

The Programme is structured through various training and capacity-building activities such as workshops, seminars, consultancies, and online courses. It promotes the use of sustainability reports for decision-making by key actors in society.

In summary, ‘the challenges were overcome by an adequate commitment and involvement of stakeholders. This cohesion is also due to the transparency in communication which was always open and participatory’, states Luciano Barcellos, CENTRUM PUCP.

The commitment

Considering the complexity of working with heterogeneous groups and in different geographical locations, the parties involved commitment was essential for the Programme’s success. For the SMEs, this commitment can be seen in their attendance at events, implementation and improvements in management, and the elaboration of sustainability reports.

The L&D initiative

The first initiative was the development and implementation in 2018 of practical workshops to train 140 SME representatives in sustainability management.

The second initiative was the development of learning materials for sustainability reporting conducted in 2019. These learning materials supported SME representatives to improve their understanding and report their sustainability performance and impact.

Another initiative was the Conference, “The road to a more competitive Peru” held on 4 June 2019 at CENTRUM PUCP’s premises. The event was attended by 800 people.

In the same vein, a press conference was held at Diario Gestión on 28 June 2019 on “Sustainability: the new challenge for large companies and their suppliers”.

The production of five online courses linked to GRI standards was another initiative developed in 2019. Five professors from CENTRUM PUCP participated in this work, which indicates the teaching staff’s involvement in the Programme. These courses were recorded and attended by 500 SME representatives.

Of particular note was the sixth initiative implementing a planning and engagement workshop held on 13 September 2019 in the CENTRUM PUCP auditorium. Two professors led the event and attended by 300 SME entrepreneurs participating in the Programme in Peru.

The initiatives also involved MBA students in 2019 and 2020. In this case, students carry out research projects linked to the Programme through their master’s theses, generating new knowledge that can benefit both the SMEs and society. The theses include specialised management consultancy services and are carried out under the academic supervision of the professors. So far, 27 groups, represented by 108 MBA students, have participated in this initiative.

Regarding the workshop to raise awareness and train 127 journalists in Social Responsibility and Sustainability. The five courses were taught voluntarily by five CENTRUM PUCP professors and Director of GRI in 2020 through the digital platform.

Finally, the last initiative highlighted participation in elaborating the publication “GOOD PRACTICES FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN PERUVIAN MSMEs. Case study: The Competitive Business Programme” launched on 3 December 2020 and shared more than thirty cases from SMEs.

The impact

According to GRI, ‘in four years of programme implementation, more than 1,100 SMEs have been sensitised and trained on sustainability reporting since 2018. 568 SMEs from 16 departments published more than 800 sustainability reports. In 2020 alone, Peru experienced a 25% growth in the number of published reports with 408 reports, despite more than 100 days of mandatory quarantine during a global pandemic’, declares Daniel Vargas.

CENTRUM PUCP also contributed with two workshops for 140 participants, two seminars attended by 370 people, five online courses for 500 participants, one conference for 800 people, and the sensitisation and training of 127 journalists through five online courses. Another important outcome was the involvement of seven professors (Luciano Barcellos, Lisa Bunclark, Iván de La Vega, Sandro Sánchez, Rubén Guevara, Julianna Ramirez, and Santiago Carpio) and more than 100 MBA students with the Programme.

‘The results of the workshops indicate that the sustainability reporting process enabled SMEs to improve their strategic vision, strengthened the relationship between the SME and their respective benchmark companies, and helped SMEs become more competitive and access new markets’, says Luciano Barcellos.

The consultancy diagnostics outcome identified SMEs’ challenges and opportunities by linking each solution to the GRI standards with SDGs. In this way, the case study reinforces that the GRI contents are helpful to improve the management of companies, and at the same time, contribute to the SDGs, also benefiting society.

Conclusions

As opportunities and challenges, it can be highlighted that SMEs are receiving support and training to strengthen management and respond to the problems identified. On the other hand, sustainability reports serve as a critical management tool. They allow to identify and manage the social, environmental, and economic impacts of activities, reduce risk and increase competitiveness. Also, the reporting exercise enables the organisation to define a competitive strategy based on shared value and the ability to innovate, contributing to the SDGs’ achievement.

In synergy with the GRI, CENTRUM PUCP, through these practices, promotes and contributes to the achievement of sustainable development in Peru to foster better integration of SMEs in global value chains the development of more detailed and sector-specific sustainability reports.

Leave a Comment