Sustainability encompasses various aspects of the lives of communities and nations
Sérgio Leão: convergence between sustainability and Odebrecht’s entrepreneurial culture
Written by: Zaccaria Junior | Photo by: Edu Simões
“Sustainability is a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses economic, social, environmental, cultural and political aspects. In this sense, sustainable business practices should aim at the creation of communities and countries that are economically prosperous, socially just, environmentally balanced, politically stable and culturally diverse....” This is the opening statement in the new wording of the Odebrecht Organization’s Sustainability Policy, which is based on the policy that has been in effect since 2008 but has now been updated and expanded.
Sérgio Leão, the officer Responsible for Sustainability in Odebrecht Engineering & Construction Operations, explains that this new policy was developed on the basis of a new reading of the thematic development that has the Odebrecht Entrepreneurial Technology (TEO) as a backdrop.
“Sustainability has been an integral part of the concepts and principles of TEO from the very beginning, reflecting business leaders’ responsibility to Survival, Growth and Perpetuity. Therefore, sustainability is one of the elements that our entrepreneurial philosophy has covered from the start, but now it is more explicit, and translated in accordance with the new nomenclature,” says Sérgio.
He points out that, like TEO, the updated policy focuses on people because, although sustainability is strongly related to environmental assets, preservation and the future, it is people – inside and outside the organization – who must be prepared and motivated to achieve and maintain the results of sustainable development within its entire scope: economic and social development, environmental responsibility, cultural diversity and political participation.
Sérgio explains that, from the beginning of the process of restructuring the policy, the main focus was on the need for the document to clearly state Odebrecht’s commitment to ensuring the survival and growth of its businesses and achieving their perpetuity in order to guarantee the policy’s effectiveness. Once those objectives had been set, it was decided that the path the Organization would take in conducting its businesses would be guided by Sustainability Indicators that reflect its corporate vision and are an integral part of its leaders’ goals.
“We reviewed the policy itself, and the indicators arose from that document. The theme of sustainability was on the agenda of the Organization’s businesses throughout 2010; it was present in 2009 as one of the central issues of the Vision for 2020; it was part of the Annual Report published this year for 2009, and it is highlighted in all the statements of our Entrepreneurial Leaders (CEOs), our President and CEO, and the Board of Directors. In other words, it is an issue that has permeated our discussions within our businesses, especially in the Engineering & Construction business,” says Sérgio. He adds that this commitment arose from the decision taken in 2009 when the Open Letter to Brazil was signed on the eve of COP 15. In it, Odebrecht’s Engineering & Construction companies undertake the commitment to carrying out carbon emissions inventories, as well as including within the theme of sustainability the consolidation of the five pillars of the guidelines in Engineering & Construction: Health and Safety, Environment, Climate Change and Social Programs.
“We worked on reviewing and creating those guidelines to establish this within the sphere of Engineering & Construction as the model to guide our businesses, and 2010 was the year to create the institutionalization of that subject,” says Sérgio Leão. He notes that the work done in that regard attempted to portray how sustainability occurs in practice in each of the businesses, on the basis of the Odebrecht culture.
“It was crucial that the new policy be aligned with our thinking, our way of working and acting. The Sustainability Policy portrays the way TEO permeates sustainable development and how sustainability is part of TEO, our task as entrepreneurs, our various businesses and the commitments people undertake. It attests to the convergence of sustainability and our entrepreneurial culture.”