Advocates intersectoral CSR-strategies

Barbaria was attracted by Kulturstudier´s CSR program and the chance to teach in a multicultural environment in Buenos Aires.
- The program gives me a great opportunity to provide perspectives from the Dominican University of California´s Green MBA program. Also it gives me wonderful insights and perspectives from the students and the Argentinian social responsibility organization Amartya that is one of the academic partners. Moreover it is a great opportunity to help change the culture of the businesses and organizations by changing the lenses of how the Kulturstudier students view their ability to impact their employers in all aspects of their future careers.

What set off your focus on green and responsible business practices?
- It was not one thing that set off my focus on green and responsible business practices. Rather it was more like a tipping point that was the culmination of almost 30 years in Corporate America, where I participated in the race for short term profits at the expense of our planet and future generations. My moral responsibility to use my experience to participate in the transformation of businesses to a new model accelerated over time as I watched the mismatch of the responses from the industries where I worked to the certain social, environmental and economic impact of climate change. The silos of environmentalists, NGOs, the public sectors and governmental policies were barriers to a more integrated message to build the business case that shows the economic value, risk mitigation, cost avoidance and innovation opportunities opened up by CSR and sustainability.

According to Barbaria it is precisely through intersectoral communication we can find strategies that benefit both the whole of the organisation and the surrounding society and environment.

What do you see as the prospects for sustainable business practices in the US?
- In many ways the US as a nation lags behind the countries that are leading the world in sustainable business practices. The sometimes antagonistic positions of our National policies and the very powerful and flexible States rights are a double edged sword. Often our States lead the way on policies that guild the way businesses operate, which are later adopted by our National Government when the political atmosphere is more amenable to change.

I fear the power of the corporations in our political system due to our recent laws that provide open doors to vast amounts of money targeted to political donations and policy position marketing. This trend will continue to slow down broad policy change forcing the responsibility for the change onto the individual within companies and organizations. However, I believe the young people around the world, now the majority, will continue to make their voices heard as they move into positions of power in the US and around the world. What people measure as success, whether it be shareholders, employees or family members is going to continue to change. This will be the driving force to long term change in sustainable business practices. Thank goodness!

The CSR program brings together students and professionals from different continents, what interesting discussions surface?
- One of the most interesting things and discussions is the relationship the students of the different countries have to their governments. We talk about the amount of regulation or social services provided by the different countries. The expectations or resistance their citizens have to these services are quite different and a huge factor in how sustainable business practices and cultures evolve! The impact of the governments and the ability to create policy at a national level “easily” is also very different. Seeing the world from the perspectives of other countries will break down the stereotypes, anger, disgust or disbelief that shadow opinions and critical thinking. It takes a little while for the group to warm up to discussions, but when they do it is powerful.

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