AMCHAM awards corporate responsibility

December 7, 2012

The Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) on Wednesday held its sixteenth annual “Social Responsibility in Action” awards, a nod to member companies that help to improve Costa Rica’s social, economic and environmental standing.

AMCHAM also awarded its “Alberto Martén Chavarría” journalism prize for reporting on corporate responsibility.

Companies received awards in five categories: community services, employees, environment, suppliers and a new category, public-private partnerships. 

“[Corporate responsibility] is an issue that’s increasingly relevant in Costa Rica, which certainly assures that each one of us and our family members have a better quality of life now and in the future,” AMCHAM board member and awards coordinator Margaret Grigsby said. “Successful companies need a healthy society to operate in, and society needs successful companies.”

According to AMCHAM Board President José Antonio Muñoz, promoting corporate responsibility has been a long-standing goal for the chamber. This year, the chamber had more award candidates than in past ceremonies, which shows a growing interest by companies in promoting new projects. 

“It’s clear that the concept of corporate responsibility is gaining traction and expanding as time goes on, which makes us proud and hopeful,” Muñoz said. 

Twenty-six companies with more than 40 projects participated in this year’s ceremony. In the “community” category, winning companies were CBN- Club 700 and FTZ Coca Cola Service Company. 

For “employees,” Hewlett- Packard and Bridgestone took the AMCHAM award. Purdy Motor won the category of “environment,” while Kimberly Clark Costa Rica won in the category of “suppliers.”

The award for “public-private partnerships” went to Península Papagayo, the National Insurance Institute, the Education Ministry and the Costa Rican Social Security Institute. 

María Luisa González, human resources manager at Hewlett- Packard, said the company’s project targeted the well-being of 7,500 workers at the company, based on the philosophy of “wellness.” The project focused on three fundamental pillars, she said: emotional health, physical health and financial health. 

“For us, this is an achievement, because it’s an integral project that includes the fundamental areas in a person’s life, which later results in better productivity, better people and better families,” González said. 

Carolina Lizano, director of corporate responsibility at Kimberly Clark Centroamérica, said the company’s award-winning program “Ambientados,” which took the suppliers award, began four years ago and seeks to promote recycling programs at small and medium-sized businesses in Costa Rica. 

“Because of the program ‘Ambientados,’ we’ve generated an important source of employment for many recyclers in the country. We train them and form an alliance with them, and basically, they are our partners. More than 20 recyclers now participate,” Lizano said. 

The project also took last year’s AMCHAM award in that category.

Costa Rican Vice President Luis Liberman, speaking about the awards, said, “In terms of companies, it’s not just about complying with the law, and in the case of the journalism award, it’s not just about informing the public. It’s about the commitment to finding alternatives that make a difference in our society.” 

Liberman noted that Costa Rican consumers increasingly make purchasing decisions based on a company’s social and environmental commitments. 

The winner of this year’s “Alberto Martén Chavarría” award was Grupo Nación’s Isabel Ovares and Randall Sáenz, for their report “National Guide to Waste Management.”

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