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State of Corporate Social Responsibility in Brazil

Kelly Salance

Last week, the Zendesk Neighbor Foundation was at Relate Live in Brazil. This conference series is covering the globe prompting discussions around how “relationships are complicated.” At each event, our own Tiffany Apczynski, VP of Public Policy and Social Impact, is presenting on the rise of the conscious consumer, what it is, who they are, and how your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy can help brands better align with this market trend. Even if you were unable to be in Sao Paulo at Relate Live, we want to pause for a moment and highlight what the rise of conscious consumer means for the changing market in Brazil.

As with any country in the world, Brazil is not without social issues. Poverty is widespread in parts of Brazil with an increasing economic gap between the rich and the poor. Additionally, despite free public education, there is a lack of quality education with many students receiving below standard education. Many Brazilians, 68%, place the increasing income inequality gap a serious social issue. Additionally, 72% of Brazilians are unsatisfied with their country, and have a desire to improve their region to match their national pride.

In response to the social issues in Brazil, many residents are using their purchasing power to create change thus becoming conscious consumers.  This growing movement of people seeks out ways to make positive buying decisions, ones that are ethical and environmental conscious. The majority of conscious consumers are millennials with 50 plus years of being the primary buyers, meaning this movement is not just a fad.

This group’s power is displayed in Brazil through purchasing trends. In 2013, 55% of consumers were willing to spend more on products from socially responsible companies, up from 46% in 2011, demonstrating the increasing awareness. Additionally, 82% of consumers in Latin America believe that companies should be involved in improving people’s wellbeing and quality of life but only 46% think brands work at achieving that. Arguably, there is room for brands—both large and small—to jump into the discussion and take action.

What should it look like?

  •  Start a volunteer (or more formal CSR) program within your company
  • Look to use sustainable products
  • Find ways your business can partner with local non-profits
  • Generally, listen to your community and respond to their needs 
  • Work to integrate ethical business practices into all organizations within your company

While companies should strive to positively impact the world around them from a moral standpoint, their are rewards for developing social responsibility programs to a company’s bottom line. Whether you engage in sustainability practices to cut cost, use volunteering to retain happy employees or use CSR for customer engagement, these practices can drive companies to better business practices. CSR will not only benefit society, it will also be good for your company.