Candela, Head of sustainable development and solidarity
Candela left Buenos Aires University in 2008 with a degree in labour law. She then had a number of jobs in public and private sectors, before becoming interested in CSR issues. "I was inspired by the subject, but at the time it was little known in Argentina". So she started to take an interest in the issue – in South America as well as in Europe – through meetings, workshops and training programmes. She joined Carrefour Argentina's head office in 2007 as a lawyer, and then became head of sustainable development and solidarity in 2010.
Carrefour has been operating in Argentina for 35 years and has always implemented various solidarity initiatives. These initiatives were given a boost in 2002 with the creation of a local foundation – the Fundación Carrefour Argentina – which focuses its support on food and diversity issues. "We work with more than 40 associations across the country and do a great deal to get both our employees and our customers involved". This involvement can take several forms – such as getting customers to donate their small change at checkouts. Since 2007, more than 6 million pesos (€547,000) have been raised for UNICEF.
To put this involvement to good use, Candela works hard with teams from all over the company. Monitoring partnerships, establishing ties with project managers, implementing new initiatives… each day is extremely busy. "We are highly proactive in implementing our programmes". When a specific need is identified, the associations working at the forefront of the issue and the stores in the region are called upon to act, since "it is not possible to do business in communities that are failing".
So is Candela’s role to "repair" communities experiencing difficulties? “My aim is to do myself out of a job! I'm dreaming of the day when there will be no more CSR departments and when issues to do with solidarity and the environment will be managed by the teams themselves". Until that day comes, she likes to think of herself as someone who ensures Carrefour's continuing commitment. To do this, she gets the company involved at all levels – more than 4000 employees volunteer every year and the executive committee is particularly committed.
To achieve this level of involvement, her office days are spent out in the field. Meetings with partner associations and country's stores, field visits (to Buenos Aires’ underpriviledged towns or isolated villages), presentations to company executives… "It is vital to gain an understanding of what needs associations have in order to maximise our impact and take action in areas where we have the greatest added value". To do this, Candela is supported by her network of volunteers to pass up information and coordinate action at local level.