CSR from the Argentinian point of view
—In Argentina Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a developing issue, therefore, it is fertile field to work on and where almost everything is still to be done, says Tomas Bullrich. He is one of the Argentinian scholarship students that have participated in and enriched Kulturstudiers´ CSR course in Buenos Aires.
--I am interested in the role of the private sector in society, and CSR seems like one of the best options to explicit the relationship between companies and civil society. I wanted to learn more about it and got to know Kulturstudier through its local partner, the NGO Amartya, says Bullrich. For Belen Soria the course provided an opportunity to include a semester of CSR studies in her law degree at the University of Buenos Aires.
--In Argentina CSR is a pretty new concept, not quite known yet and often misunderstood. I love having learned the whole and more accurate idea of CSR to be able to stay away from the green/blue washing idea sceptic people tend to take CSR for. Either if you follow or not a career in CSR, the program shows you the need for interconnection between the three sectors and it pushes you to start thinking in a more systemic way. It is a great tool for everyone who wants to think ahead and start building trust bonds to shape the future, says Soria.
From the local point of view
The local Argentinians are an important addition to the class of mainly Scandianavian and Northern European students, bringing a different background and insight to the discussions and group work.
--I believe the most important resources I could share with the rest of the class, was my deep knowledge of the Argentinian political and economic context. This enriched the debates and comparisons with other countries, says Bullrich.
--My classmates told me more than once that it was pretty nice to have an actual Argentinian around. I do believe it improves the experience all the way. The course approaches many different topics that are common issues to Argentinians, yet Scandinavians have never heard of them, and as complicated matters they have many different ways of approaching them. Being able to discuss with someone your own age I believe is really useful. When working on sensitive topics, having really different cultural backgrounds was a challenge, yet I do believe it was definitely one of the high peaks of the course for everyone, says Soria. Having studied two semesters at the University of California, Berkeley, she could draw upon her US experience as well.
She agrees with Bullrich that different cultural and academic backgrounds make for interesting, but also demanding study situations and group work.
-- I also did enjoy the international teachers, they were all an honor to have, says Soria.
Bringing CSR into the boardroom
Bullrich studied CSR with Kulturstudier in the spring semester of 2011 and has since had many opportunities to utilize the strategies and skills honed during the course.
-- I worked in a B corporation later on (corporations certified to meet social and environmental standards), where I could easily apply CSR strategies given the social and environmental interest of the company. Now in the public sector, I am able to influence on some public policies related to companies, emphasizing the responsibility that corporations have in society, says Bullrich. Naturally he has had a keen eye on the development in the field.
--CSR has been a trendy issue among Argentinian companies. More and more, they have been in the need of introducing this concept as a main value and utilizing the competitive opportunities it offers. Also, Argentina has evolved into a more demanding society when it comes to consumer services and products, concludes Bullrich.