Emílio Odebrecht, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Odebrecht S.A., said this morning (Oct. 24), while opening a seminar in which 180 Leaders from his company and the Group’s new council of global personalities participated, that “the legal uncertainty that affects companies that signed Leniency Agreements is basically caused, among other factors, by an unjustifiable power struggle between government institutions”.
“Besides impeding companies from fully resuming their operations and also ignoring their potential contribution to the resumption of economic growth, this conflict calls into question the leniency instruments and collaboration with the judiciary”, he said. He believes this conflict “weakens, and even paralyzes, any actions these companies might take to stimulate the necessary structural changes.”
“In essence, these agreements allow companies to resume operations and once again deal with the market and with government entities, thereby generating fresh job and income opportunities for the population. Brazil needs to resume growth”.
Emílio recollected that, in the last three years, Brazil recorded a cumulative GDP contraction of over 7 percentage points. “Our country registered the biggest loss in per capita GDP in the last 120 years. Brazil must once again start generating job opportunities. There are over 13 million unemployed workers in Brazil today. These are our youth who are mainly looking for work”, he said. In this regard, Emílio mentioned that more than 55,000 university students - a record in Odebrecht’s history - have applied for 50 internships in the Group’s companies during the January 2018 summer vacation.
According to Emílio, the biggest challenges faced by Odebrecht today are no longer within the company: “We made mistakes and it is important that we recognize it. Mistakes that, to some extent, triggered this crisis. We already talked about it in earlier notices and in our public apology. We have the obligation to learn a lot from the mistakes, the suffering we faced and from this serious crisis.”
According to Emílio, “internally, we conceived, developed and implemented the policy, guidelines and procedures to guide our business operation with ethics, integrity and transparency. Even more important than the instruments mentioned above, we notice, in all areas of Odebrecht, that the consciousness and conviction to act this way is present in all of us”.
Emílio added that “today, our greatest challenges are external. These challenges are, for example, in the need for imperative structural and cultural changes in Brazil and other markets and communities where we operate. Combating corruption is a cause to be taken up by the entire society. And the commitment to ethics must be broad, general, and unrestricted. It must involve diverse sectors of society, including, and especially, the public sector.”
He asked his executives, “despite the restrictions being imposed upon us”, to incorporate into their respective Action Programs “the intensification of collective external initiatives undertaken jointly and though specialized organizations, associations and trade associations to promote structural and cultural changes in Brazil and the communities where we operate.”
“The time for change is now”
Without these changes, he said, “we will not have sustainable growth of our companies or the sustainable development of our country and other regions where we operate.” Emílio cited the following as examples of changes the country needs: political and administrative reforms, social security reforms, reduction of bureaucracy, legalizing the activity of lobbying and removing the State’s heavy hand from business activities.
“Reforms must go beyond immediate interests. They must address the Country’s interests, and not selfish or nefarious personal and partisan interests, such as what happened with the recent political reform, which actually resulted in a limited electoral reform,” he said.
“The time to change the country is now. Future generations will not forgive us if we miss this opportunity. We at Odebrecht are doing our part with determination,” he added.
Competing with ethics
The seminar for 180 Odebrecht Leaders is being held in a hotel in São Paulo. This is the second seminar of this nature organized by the Group since its involvement in Operation Car Wash. Last year’s seminar produced a document called “Odebrecht Commitment to Acting with Ethics, Integrity and Transparency.”
Today’s seminar will address two topics: a) The changing role of companies in society – key factors and implications for the success of corporations in the long term; b) Competing with integrity, ethics and transparency in challenging environments.