Subscribe to My Feed

Tell a Friend

  • Polls

    How Is My Site? / ¿Cómo es mi sitio web?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Recent Comments:

  • « | Home | »

    Noteworthy Corporate Practices: Timberland in the DR

    By Keith R | September 8, 2006

    Topics: Corporate Social Responsibility, Economics & the Environment, Energy & the Environment, Environmental Protection, Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

    A few months back The Green Team published a letter from a Timberland manager in the Dominican Republic outlining what their company does in the DR to improve its environmental management and minimizing adverse impacts on the local environment, not only in terms of waste minimization and recycling, but chemicals management and energy choices. Rather than reprint it all here, I invite you to follow this link to the Green Team blog:

    I think it’s worth reading for several reasons. For one, it illustrates, perhaps better than some of those glossy brochures and flashy corporate websites floating around these days, that indeed there are multinationals doing business in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) trying to behave responsibly and improve their local environmental performance — even when local pressure to do so is minimal, if it exists at all. Believe me, the Dominican government did not push Timberland to do most of what he outlines in his letter! I doubt, too, that local NGOs did either. The DR has far to go on both fronts (one the reasons I created the Green Team). And given the under-developed state of the recycling infrastructure in the DR, the company’s local recycling initiatives likely were not simple to start or to sustain.

    The second reason I value it is linked to the first: because it involves operations in the DR. Many companies, when they speak of their environmental performance and social responsibility efforts, tend to focus almost entirely on the bigger economies of the region — Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and at times Chile and Colombia. If they speak at all about a Bolivia, DR, Ecuador, Guatemala, or even Uruguay, they tend to stick to “case studies” or “pilot projects,” leading one to suspect that these items are not truly indicative of their normal operational practices and activities.

    Perhaps it is normal for companies to focus on talking about what environment-friendly activity they’re engaged in Argentina, Brazil or Mexico. These most likely are where they have their production facilities, and/or major distribution and/or regional offices. They have the most consumers, the biggest markets, and they all three are well tied into international media, thus offer the biggest potential audiences for green messages. And in the case of Brazil, consumer surveys suggest increasing environmental awareness of the Brazilian public and a desire to see firms behaving in a more eco-friendly manner. [Ever wonder why so many Brazilian firms seek ISO 14000 certification and apply for other eco-labels and eco-certification schemes?] And let’s not forget that many of these firms are having their feet held to the fire on environmental issues by the São Paulo-based Ethos Institute.

    But many firms also have operations in the rest of the region that rarely, if ever, seem to figure into their environmental reporting. Is that because they have nothing to report? Or just nothing positive to report? Or that they don’t figure it’s worth reporting on what they do in the smaller markets?

    Third, I like the Timberland manager’s letter because it is not simply reciting or paraphrasing the official corporate policy handed down by corporate headquarters. If I want to get line and verse of official company policy, in most cases I can go look it up and read it on their website. But this guy hardly mentions policies — instead he gives the reader concrete examples in the local context of what Timberland is trying to do.

    Last, but far from least, I like that he wanted to talk about his local subsidiary’s environmental record. The letter was volunteered. The Green Team did not pressure him into it. And as far as I know, the higher-ups in the company did not twist his arm into offering the letter. His pride in his company and what it does in this area is evident.

    I’m hoping that there are a lot more local managers in LAC nations like him, but haven’t spoke up yet. If you are one, or you know one, contact me and perhaps we can get your story out here on The Temas Blog.

    — Keith R

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    Subscribe to My Comments Feed

    Leave a Reply