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Ethics and transparency actions in focus
At the social institutions supported by the Odebrecht Foundation, working with issues such as ethics, integrity and transparency is nothing new and gaining relevance. At the Rural Family Homes, for example, talking about ethics goes beyond merely discussing in the classroom the works and concepts formulated by Socrates or Kant. “It’s incorporated into our daily routine,” said Ionei Silva, a third-year student at the Rural Family Home of Igrapiúna (CFR-I). “Here, we deal with these issues all the time.”
He is one of the more than 300 students who study at the three rural technical schools supported by the foundation in the Lowlands of Southern Bahia through the Sustainable Integrated Development and Growth Program (PDCIS): in addition to CFR-I, the Agroforestry Family Home (Cfaf) and the Rural Family Home of Presidente Tancredo Neves (CFR-PTN).
Working with this focus is nothing new. “These are practices that already have been adopted. Inside PDCIS, these issues always have been a priority,” explained Thiago Maciel, Social Partnerships Director at the Odebrecht Foundation. Now, in response to demands from Brazilian society, which is following more closely the use of resources, especially public ones, the topic has been gaining traction.
“Focusing on these issues strengthens the actions already practiced and formalized in the code of conduct of the institutions. What we’re doing now is aligning the concepts to reinforce the role each one plays in fostering a business environment in which relationships are based on ethical principles and on a firm commitment to transparency and reputable business conduct,” said Maciel.
At the Family Homes, for example, subjects such as Sociology, Philosophy, Ethics and Citizenship give students an opportunity to debate the importance of being clear and transparent. The effort is supported as well by the institutional documents adopted by each Home, such as their Bylaws, School Rules, Code of Conduct and Procurement and Hiring Regulations.
According to Maciel, what has been strengthened at the PDCIS is “the synergy between words and actions aligned with compliance principles and requirements to make sure that everything is being done correctly.” There also is a concern with disseminating these principles in the communities in which the supported organizations operate.
To support this, multiplying actions are being organized in the Lowlands of Southern Bahia to establish a dialogue on principles, reputable business conduct, legislation and governance. In April, the teams of the Odebrecht Foundation gathered with the leaders of the supported institutions to give a workshop on the topic and demonstrate the importance of adopting compliance standards. Since then, the workshop has been replicated for groups of students’ parents, suppliers and employees, for instance, as a way to share experiences and offer training that reinforces the institutions’ commitments to social investors, the government and society.
“Ethics go beyond the schoolyard. The students are incorporating these principles into their day-to-day activities,” said Lázaro Rodrigues, educational assistant at Cfaf. “We work on this in the classroom. And the boys are taking the topic back to their communities through these multiplying actions.” Quionei Araújo, the principal at CFR-PTN, added, “This already has been incorporated into students’ routines and now we have formalized the procedures.”
At the Earth Conservation Organization (OCT) and the Cooperative of Rural Producers of Presidente Tancredo Neves (Coopatan), institutions also supported by the PDCIS, the motto is the same: Always seek cohesive, ethical and clear relationships with farmers, local merchants and service providers. According to Eduardo Mamédio, project coordinator at the OCT, producers in the Lowlands of Southern Bahia also have been open to working with the topic. “The entire region has benefited from the dissemination of the topics of ethics, integrity and transparency and from the multiplying actions that foster dialogue among local residents.”