Leading Sustainable Organizations
I recently caught up with Alberto Andreu Pinillos, global head of Organizational Development & Corporate Culture at the Spanish telecom giant Telefónica, a position he took in 2014. For 14 years prior, he was Telefónica’s director of Reputation and Corporate Responsibility and a pioneer in the business sustainability movement. He’s been called the “Dean of Spanish CSR” by the Diario Responsable.
I wanted to know how Alberto saw the CSR director’s role — a question he says he gets often from his kids. “Ever since I started with this whole corporate responsibility thing,” says Alberto, “a lot of people have asked me: What do you do? What’s your job actually about?” His experience in responding to these questions allows Alberto to distill the job into three principal activities and responsibilities: foresight, nurturing, and evangelism.
The director’s responsibility here is to identify ahead of time the social and environmental risks or opportunities that may not be relevant in the near term, but will be so in the medium to long term — and then place them in front of the appropriate organizational decision makers. The CSR manager, by engaging with key stakeholders in government, industry, civil society and international organizations, captures valuable information about emerging social and environmental issues.
By placing those issues into context and relating them to the business, CSR directors make them accessible to the company’s relevant decision makers. “For example, 10 years ago very few executives were aware of the social and environmental issues involved in the supply chain,” notes Alberto. “But pioneering CSR directors identified this as an emerging issue and helped prepare their procurement and supply chain executives for the coming shifts.”
Alberto points to the Bangladesh textile factory collapse in 2013 that killed more than 1,000 workers and tripped up brand names like Benetton and Mango that were outsourcing to the contractors. Likewise, diversity has long been on the radar of CSR professionals and has recently been incorporated into the legal framework of national laws and European directives. Effective CSR directors have helped guide their human resources executives in addressing these concerns in advance of regulations.