Find out why Sweden has competent people committed on leverage sustainable development.
From the conversation with Mrs. Kristina Sandberg (Secretary for the International Standard ISO/TMB/WG Social Responsibility) and Mr. Bengt Rydstedt (Project Manager at SIS – Swedish Standards Institute), it was possible an analysis on the application of ISO 26000 in Brazil’s business scenario.
In earlier articles: “Standards as a factor for improving the citizens quality of life”, “Do More and Better” e “Understand a little more of the standard of Social Responsibility”, both experts reinforced the significant role of government in encouraging and motivating actions and legislative apparatus to support actions in sustainable development’s favor. Another important point was the approach the role of economics, education, media and organizational cultures for the implementation of the standard.
Something that drew attention on what they said was the decisive focus of education in people’s posture towards practices of social responsibility and sustainable development. They consider the Swedish population very familiar to these debates, since the beginning of the educational process, the sustainability problem is discussed. Very early students learn that no one can prosper without respect for the environment and people, equal rights and social justice. Education contributes in training professionals who will work on the market.
Thus, Swedish spend years consolidating learning and a way of life focused on social, ethical and environmental issues. This positive effect assists the good performance of Swedish companies, which can have a human capital prepared to develop and implement consistent practices with this view.
The role of education in the professionals’ behavior is a competitive advantage these companies have, being able to improve their training in specialized and innovative areas. Once constituted a basic formal education, rooted in this conception, it’s up to corporate education to take the next step. While visiting companies as Skanska, Scania and Saab we found ramifications of this aspect: an education that forms aware and committed students to sustainable development, and a corporate education that provides professional development focused on the company’s specific areas, bringing innovation and presenting products, processes and services aligned with this view (it is worth checking the reporting of these companies).
Now we can understand that it’s necessary to invest in advance so that people can grow and mature themselves in the precepts of sustainability. This is a long term investment and needs to be encouraged by education policies harmonized with these polices.
As Mrs. Kristina Sandberg emphasized, in Sweden exists an integration of actions that favor sustainable development – government, legislation, business practices and the population are familiar to these matters and challenges. There is a consensus that each one should contribute, so everyone should be able to use natural resources, in the present and the future. For Swedish this is common, spontaneous and simple, but not unimportant, is a valid principle for the entire society. For them there is no rivalry between profit and sustainability, there is a rich and consensual way in which profit and sustainability follow side by side.
Here, we must analyze particularly Brazilian scenario in formal education. In 1996, through the National Curriculum Parameters (PCNs) http://portal.mec.gov.br/seb/arquivos/pdf/introducao.pdf, “transversal themes” were introduced in the fundamental education curriculum (1st to 9th grade), these themes are: Ethics, Sexual Orientation, Work and Consumption, Health and Cultural Plurality. These topics should be worked through the traditional classes such as Portuguese, Mathematics, History, and others. So in public formal education we have only about fifteen years of education with “a touch” of knowledge and discussions around themes that favor the sustainability debate.
Still analyzing teaching, we must evaluate, in addition to the curriculum, other dimensions of teaching process such as infrastructure, teachers training, teaching resources, student’s cultural capital, among other important aspects that can cooperate or not, for an effective educational process.
Besides this we have a dual education process, where coexists a significant difference between those who attend public or private schools, latter being that one with best quality of education. In college, the curricula mostly focus on technical professional training, leaving broader issues, as sustainability, to graduate curricula. Since 2000, we can see the arrival of these themes in curricula of some MBA courses, with subjects as Business Ethics, Commercial Ethics, Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Ethics and Social Responsibility (http://www5.fgv.br/fgvonline/CursosMaster.aspx – http://www.bsp.edu.br). It can also be found graduate courses specifically aimed at Environmental Management, both traditional or non-degree seeking (http://184.108.40.206/ar/libros/anped/1208T.PDF- ARBACHE, Ana, CANE, Ana et ali – Pesquisando multiculturalismo e educação: o que dizem as dissertações e teses).
Thus, only ten years passed since we began to train professionals and leaders familiar with sustainable work practices. It’s interesting to mention that most of these professionals were not in fundamental school (1st to 9th grade), when the PCNs were introduced. So, time mostly short for training and discussion on sustainability issues. It’s easy to calculate: Sweden has a population that knows sustainable practices from the earliest years in school. Today, they collect their winnings of well trained human capital to meet the demand of sustainable development. In Brazil, we have just fifteen years of debate about this issue for young people, who started school in 1996; and about 11 years for adults who have done MBA and graduate courses. We have to think about this.
Therefore, in Brazil, companies that are consistent with sustainable development have the role to form these professionals, so they can understand and exercise the sustainability guidelines. While Swedish people apply and innovate, we’re still getting to know and understand what this means.
Brazil could use this opportunity to learn from those who do, and do very well. Sweden can be a compass to direct us towards consistent actions with the guidelines of sustainable development. We need to know and adapt the actions to our scenario, remembering its limitations and potential. As Scania, many companies apply the same guidelines of their Swedish headquarters in the countries where their branches are located.
In our visit to Sweden, we were able to interview young students who demonstrated the significant role of education in attitudes oriented to sustainable development. We also interviewed vice presidents of large companies, an ambassador, directors of operations and sustainability area, and in every speech education was present. Check these interviews on our blog!