Successful leadership starts from within the organization. And it's up to those at the top to set the example for the ethical and safety standards the company must meet—a policy by which Kimberly Clark's Andean Region office abides. The group, which encompasses Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, is part of the Dallas, Texas, USA-based consumer goods manufacturer. It ensures ethics is the foundation of its approach to business.
“Principles play an important role, since how to do it is as important as how much is done,” says Sergio Nacach, Lima, Peru-based manager of the Andean Region office.
For example, since Kimberly Clark is organized as a parent company with many subsidiaries, at times one area or division may be in competition with another. To minimize the risk that managers will only do what is best for their area—regardless of the impact on other parts of the company—all business decisions are preceded by a common question: What is best for the company?
But the office's approach to operating responsibly is much more comprehensive than simply applying ethics to business decisions. “Company culture, corporate governance and social responsibility are all intertwined in our company,” Mr. Nacach says. The group's corporate responsibility initiative is termed the Kimberly Clark 360 Strategy. In it, company management has identified six constituents it strives to serve:
The greater community
In each area, management and employees set ambitious goals for themselves. Andean Region office employees have launched projects to improve the health and wealth of those in the communities in which they operate. They have partnered with local food programs, sponsored children's soccer teams, donated time and money to a local cancer hospital, and spearheaded vaccination campaigns.
“Social responsibility has a terrific link to business,” Mr. Nacach says. In Latin America, an individual's sense of belonging is very important. Employees are proud that their employer has actively invested in projects that help the communities in which they live and work. And that passion spills into their day-to-day work.
“If you want to inspire people in Latin America, it's not just about a bonus or business plan,” Mr. Nacach says. “They want to be proud of their company.” Because few companies in the region take this approach, Kimberly Clark gains an advantage in recruiting employees, he adds.
But the company's outlay in responsibility doesn't end there. The organization also invests in its employees, spending about $700,000 annually in training programs. Plant operators in Colombia are able to finish high school through the company.
And by working to be a good citizen of the community, Kimberly Clark has gained a favorable impression with its stakeholders and customers. In fact, sales in the Andean countries have grown between 50 percent and 100 percent in the past two years, proving that profit is about more than a good advertising campaign.
“We want to leave a legacy to the corporation, the community, our families and our countries,” Mr. Nacach says.