CSR in Iberian America: Opportunity or Moot Point
An assessment of the development of CSR in Iberian America in the threshold of the implosion of the neoliberal mantra
Álvaro J. de Regil
The assessment that this paper makes relative to CSR in Iberian America –previously published in 2006 in the Social Responsibility Journal– remains as current as it has ever been. In looking at a region famous for sheltering the world's greatest social inequality, the author, Álvaro de Regil, ~then conveyed great scepticism regarding the value that CSR could have in Iberian America to force corporations to behave in a sustainable manner from the perspective of free societies. He deemed to be quite difficult to achieve a true CSR ethos due to the democratic mockery that we endure in both Iberian America and virtually worldwide. He argued that today's societies are completely dominated by the market, for all public decisions are taken from the market's perspective and not in compliance with the basic democratic responsibility of procuring the welfare of every rank of society. Instead, we live in marketocracies in Iberian America and in most parts of the world; an ethos which stands out for its great degree of corruption in governments, that act as market agents and not as public servants governing by fulfilling the people's mandate.
Two years later, with the global implosion and extreme crisis of capitalism, the future of CSR globally becomes rather evident. The author describes the irrelevance of the development of specific CSR concepts in the region for being, in most cases, as they are worldwide, envisioned from a market context, which is regarded as the supreme value that reigns over the lives of today's societies. Thus, according to the author, today's CSR is far from responding to the essential demands of Iberian Americans. The most conspicuous case is the absence in today's CSR of a vital element in human dignity: the right to decent work and a living wage, in accordance with article 23 of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights.
In the authors opinion, due to the pillage that the rule of the market perpetrates and the extreme inequality that generates, there is a sense of urgency in Iberian America not present in other regions in the South. Regardless of their awareness about CSR, Iberian Americans know quite well that corporations cannot rule the world and dictate to governments the policies that benefit their very private interests. This has forced them to mobilise to confront the power structures imposed by free market dogma. Such mobilisation has succeeded in several South American countries in getting rid of oligarchic governments, albeit not yet in entirely dismantling the structures of exploitation.
In this way, the author deems that the current CSR is an irrelevant issue in Iberian America for it does not address, whatsoever, the need of most citizens to force corporations to eliminate their predatory practices and contribute to the welfare of all ranks of society. What people are doing is redefining the purpose of democracy, and how it addresses each aspect of life, starting with the social, economic and environmental policies that are essential for building a truly sustainable paradigm. And they are doing it in a far more effective manner that what could be expected from a CSR that the author deems to be a mockery.