This article first appeared in Revista Capital on October 24, 2019.
In my last column, I wrote about the Business Roundtable’s statement, in which this group of executives from leading U.S. companies said that companies should be concerned about their employees, their customers, their suppliers, the community, and maximizing shareholder value. What I argued on that occasion is that this is the only way to be sustainable in the long term.
This statement today, and after we witnessed the social outburst that started with the increase in Metro fares, makes even more sense for companies and I am even more convinced of the great responsibility we have in the future that is being built. It is for this reason that, from the private sector, we must do everything possible to comply with the points exposed.
The images hurt, mainly because many of us thought that this kind of demonstration would never happen in Chile, since the institutions, although weakened, worked to a certain extent. But what hurts most is to see the anger of the people, anger against the system, against the institutions, and against the companies, largely fueled by the cases of corruption and collusion that have come to light in recent years.
Society as a whole, and by that I include companies, is crying out for a change in the way we act, where private interests must be set aside in the search for the common good. Who would have thought that this movement would start by demonstrating against one of the most reputable companies in the country, the Santiago Metro, recognized as one of the most modern means of transportation in Latin America, a transversal company, which moved thousands of Chileans to their homes every day, but none of that mattered when its users themselves considered that the increase was unfair and once again felt abused by the system.
I give this as an example because I believe that companies, today more than ever, have a duty to their stakeholders. What happened on Friday, October 18 in the country is a consequence of the generalized distrust that exists and it only took a small spark, 30 pesos, for that accumulated anger to take to the streets.
What we are experiencing these days, shows that there is no margin left, society will not stand another scandal and if we are not able to jump on this bandwagon, we will end up with the end of private property.
At this time we must all do our part to get back on our feet and in the private sector, we have to stop patting ourselves on the back, closing ourselves in the same circle thinking that everything is fine or that since “everyone is doing it” there is no problem. Each company must make a deep self-analysis of how it is effectively contributing to a better Chile, thinking not only about the last line of the income statement, but how to get there.
By Susana Sierra