«The seeds are sown, now it takes knowledge and tools to make them thrive»

In Latin America, there is widespread distrust of state and private-sector institutions. In the countries surveyed, only a small proportion of the population pays direct taxes. As a result, the sense of identification is underdeveloped. Organized civil society is also comparatively weak and exerts little pressure on the state and companies. In countries where, for example, the degree of trade union organizations is relatively high, this has led to a large number of social achievements. At the same time, however, encrustations have developed to the point of even mafia-like structures.

In Latin America, lack of controls and widespread impunity encourage irresponsible corporate behavior. The fact that the Brazilian judiciary is also investigating acting members of the government and leading business representatives for corruption is a positive development. As a rule, investigations in Latin America are initiated only after the end of government, if at all. Then they are often discredited as the new government's political maneuver against the old government.

In Latin America, the reality of business is very different: there are companies that work like islands and are guided by international social and environmental standards. In addition, there are a large number of informal enterprises in which the entrepreneurs and their employees work under precarious conditions. Massive environmental destruction also occurs because companies use outdated technologies. Active knowledge and technology transfer is needed so that economically and ecologically sensible processes can be disseminated and applied more quickly. International supply chains play an important role here.

In Latin America, there are numerous company representatives who want to contribute to solving pressing social and ecological problems. This contrasts with the real behavior of many companies, which is reported on in the media and which has been the subject of numerous interviews. Here the companies appear to be promoting the existing social and ecological problems. This discrepancy must be resolved in the coming years.

In Latin America, responsible management is still a relatively new concept. Many activities are in the phase of pilot projects or prototypes. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is generally equated with philanthropic commitment. Companies and their employees help, for example, to paint a school or clean a local park. Large business foundations finance activities in sports, education and culture. A sustainable integration of the various aspects of responsible management into the processes of the core business, on the other hand, rarely takes place.

Further, responsible management is still often perceived by Latin American companies as a cost factor rather than an investment. The United Nations' goals for sustainable development offer a good framework for systematically integrating the various aspects of responsible corporate management into the business processes of companies. In this way, companies can actively contribute to achieving the UN development goals by 2030.

In Latin America, it is often stated that the new generation of entrepreneurs (millennials) is trying to follow the principles of responsible management. The young, well-trained specialists and managers expect the companies they work for to live up to their social and ecological responsibilities. However, in order to create a widespread awareness of the issues of responsible corporate management, these must be anchored even more firmly in education, from early childhood education to university education. At the same time, the question arises as to whether the young generation can really be the hoped-for driver of change if there are not enough positive role models in the current generation of managers.