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It's time to find out.
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Discover what top media and communications experts have to say.
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When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint, one industry that draws a lot of attention is aviation. Given the environmental impact of flying, many would assume their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy would mainly focus on reducing carbon emissions and similar initiatives. However, when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility, there isn’t a one-size-fits all solution. What works in one region may not be a good fit in another. And while it can be tempting to go big or go home with wide reaching global campaigns splashed across social media, designing programs that are tailored to the local community has more authenticity.
Enter Anjuli Boston, the former Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Embraer S.A., a multinational aerospace manufacturer based in Brazil. In her GLOBIS Unlimited course, she’ll guide you through tackling the bureaucratic complexities of non-profit requirements along with creating effective programs that are tailored to your company’s and area’s needs.
Below is an excerpt of how she got started implementing CSR at Embraer S.A.
Starting from Scratch
Anjuli Boston: My name is Anjuli Boston, and for the last 12 years I have worked in social development for corporate responsibility, and more specifically in the aviation industry. I was the head of corporate social responsibility for Embraer North America and I was the president for the Embraer Foundation.
As I was hired on to become Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at Embraer, I was put on the task of building their CSR in the United States from scratch. I built the Embraer Foundation with their 3 main programs and they were focused on the volunteering, inspiring youth in aviation, and the grant giving.
Tailoring CSR Programs for the U.S. Market
Boston: So as head of CSR, my main goal was to create an authentic purpose for the causes that Embraer was going to work on in the United States. They have had a long history of having a great program in Brazil where they fully fund two high schools for 900 plus low-income students. But obviously thinking about the two different realities for the 2 different countries, we couldn’t do the same thing in the United States. So my goal was to just truly build something that was meaningful and necessary for the reality of the United States.
What’s the First Step?
Boston: The first thing was to understand the different requirements for a private foundation because they wanted to have an official entity in the United States. Which is not necessary for corporations to have a private foundation, but Embraer really wanted to do it. So it was understanding the do’s and don’ts, what are you allowed to do, who are you allowed to give money to. So really understanding the nitty gritty of the IRS and the paperwork required to make sure everything was going to run legally. So that was sort of the ground start from that. Then from there it was outlining and designing the program. So we did talk to our employees, we did take advantage of a program that already existed. Which was a volunteering program and sort of build from that.
And once we had the idea of sort of skeleton of what we wanted to do, then the goal is to get the leadership buying it. And I want to say, it’s important to have continuous leadership buy-in. That’s one of the main roles as head of CSR, that you have to remind leadership, when things get busy, because everyone gets busy, everybody has so many tasks to do, everyone has to do’s and things that they need to deliver that often times the CSR can be put sort of to the end of the list and you sort of have to nudge leadership to make sure that they don’t forget that they see how this is part of our business and they can benefit and their team can perform better just by allowing the Corporate Social responsibility side to flourish in that team.
Getting Your Employees Onboard
Boston: In addition to that it was also educating and engaging the employees. A lot of people don’t know what CSR is. What is it that my company wants to do? What is it that you’re encouraging me to do? So just really educating and giving them the platform to be able to express their own passions as well. So that was really nice to see how much we were able to involve our employees to be a part of this process.
As head of CSR, obviously, you have to engage all different stakeholders, so that was a really big part of my role to make sure that you get to know all of the different stakeholders and that you build a relationship upon that. Especially with the non-profit organizations that we want to support and building that long-term partnership and making sure that legally you have the agreements in place and that you have all of the compliance cleared up to be able to fully help and contribute to whatever the causes are that the non-profit organizations are working on.
The Importance of Partnerships
Boston: And obviously, taking a step back there is identifying those partnerships. So before even building the relationship is constantly looking for new partners. That’s one of the beauties of CSR is that partnership. And we often forget that the STG’s of the last goal is partnership. So partnership is huge for what we’re trying to accomplish not just as corporations but as society as a whole. Partnerships is really sort of the core of the whole sort of wheel, getting the wheel to move and getting the wheel of change of things to actually happen.
Finding the Fire for Change
Boston: And of course, for me it’s extremely important to lead the causes with humility and generosity, and really with heart. Because you really need to have the passion, you really need to have that fire inside to see change happen because the day-to-day can be overwhelming. You can often think that you’re not going to get anywhere but you really need to sort of remind yourself of that passion to be able to make that happen. And we really made that happen at Embraer.
To watch the rest of this course, CSR in the Aviation Industry with Anjuli Boston, visit GLOBIS Unlimited.