AA 1000 – Accountability 1000: an accountability standard designed to ensure the accuracy of accounting, auditing, and social and ethical reporting; an international standard for Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR certification.
Absenteeism: regular absence from work or duty without good cause; it differs from being late or unpunctual, which means not arriving on time for work.
Accountability: the obligation of providing an explanation for one’s actions, or lack of action, to persons with a legitimate interest in the matter. In order to enhance its accountability, an organization takes full responsibility for its actions or defaults. In addition, accountability presupposes a larger commitment to being proactive as well as open and aboveboard. Therefore, it encompasses:
- Transparency: the organization’s obligation to be accountable to its stakeholders.
- Proactivity: the organization’s responsibility to answer for its actions and defaults, including the decision-making processes and the results of its decisions. Proactivity requires a commitment to developing the organization’s processes and goals to support the continuous improvement of the corporate performance.
- Adherence: the obligation to comply with legal requirements concerning both the corporate policies and the reporting on corporate policies and performance.
Action Plans: main tools to steer a organization towards a certain course of action, resulting from the breaking down of short and long-term strategies. Generally speaking, action plans are set to carry out those operations that the organization must excel at in order for its strategy to be successful. Developing action plans is crucial for the planning process so as to ensure that the strategic objectives and goals can be understood and broken down throughout the organization. The breaking down of action plan requires an analysis of the amount of resources involved and the establishment of measures of alignment for all work units. The breaking down may also imply qualifying certain professionals or hiring new ones.
Alignment: consistency among plans, processes, actions, information, and decisions to support overall corporate strategies, objectives, and goals. Effective alignment requires an understanding of the concepts, strategies and goals and the utilization of complementary indicators and information to make possible the planning, monitoring, analysis and improvement of the work sectors, the main processes, and the organization as a whole.
Arbitration: a) operation in which an investor makes risk-free profit by taking part in simultaneous transactions in two or more markets; b) a systematic process that enables cash or physical settlements, through which an individual or a corporation may buy the same amount of shares on a stock exchange and sell it on another, provided there’s an agreement between both of them.
Arbitration Chamber: in Brazil, under the regulations established by Law 9.307/96 the parties to a legal relation may settle their disputes by arbitration. The corporations listed on the New Market or on Ibovespa’s Level 2 of Corporate Governance commit themselves to settle by arbitration any and all disputes and arguments related to capital market. For this purpose, BM&FBOVESPA opened its Market Arbitration Chamber, whereby it makes available, to the interested parties, a group of arbiters enabled to deal with the complexity and specificity of the varied array of technical and corporate issues related to capital market. Once they have resorted to the Market Arbitration Chamber to settle a dispute, the parties are no longer allowed to file lawsuits involving the same claim.
Balance Sheets: a document showing a quantitative summary of an organization’s economic and financial condition (assets, liabilities, net worth, etc.) at the end of a fiscal year, comprising all its financial statements. The balance sheets legally close the organization’s operations for that specific fiscal year.
Balanced Scorecard – BSC: a tool that explains a company’s action strategies. The Balanced Scorecard provides a detailed framework of the business operations and a method for enhancing the communication and understanding of the business objectives and strategies at all corporate levels.
Benchmarking: It is a continuous and systematic process for evaluating, measuring and comparing products, services, processes, and functions of companies reputed as “the best of their class”, in order to set standards for improvements in the organization, to allow comparison with competitors, to develop objectives, products and processes, and to set priorities and goals. The process may take competitors and companies from other sectors as a reference, and/or consider their inter-departmental or inter-sector procedures and efficiency standards. Benchmarking aims at performance improvement.
Change Management: the process of reinventing and/or restructuring factors in a company’s culture, strategy, and structure.
Code of Conduct: a code founded on corporate values and culture in order to ensure the trustworthiness of the company’s procedures. It is the highest standard, together with the Bylaws, for decision-making in the course of the company’s businesses.
Commitment: the degree of responsibility, attachment and loyalty between the employees and the organization. For instance, a high quality competitive market requires highly flexible and motivated workforce to guarantee top-notch performance of the company’s products and services.
Communication: the act of emitting, transmitting and receiving messages by means of methods and/or processes agreed upon, whether by spoken or written language, or by any other set of signs, signals or symbols, or by technical sonorous or visual devices. Through communication, organizations and their members exchange information, reach a common understanding, coordinate operations, exercise influence, socialize, and maintain systems of belief, symbols, and values.
Competency: the mobilization of knowledge (knowing), skills (doing) and attitudes (willingness) as required for the performance of operations or functions pursuant to the quality and productivity standards demanded by the nature of the work.
Confidentiality of Information: one of the features of information security ensuring that information will only be disclosed to duly authorized persons.
Core Business: the main business of a company; the set of key operations that allow a company to maintain competitive advantage.
Corporate Governance: a company’s management and monitoring system. Good corporate governance practices are based on the principles of transparency, equity, and responsibility/accountability to stakeholders in order to increase the company’s net worth and contribute towards its long-term survival.
Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR: a way of conducting business so that the company becomes a partner in and co-responsible for social development. A socially responsible corporation has the ability to listen to claims of all its multiple stakeholders (shareholders, employees, suppliers of products and services, community, government, and environment) and to incorporate them into the planning of its operations with the intention of attempting to meet all such demands, and not only the owners’ or shareholders’ (FIEMG). “Social responsibility is a way of conducting business that expresses itself through an ethical and transparent relationship between the company and all its stakeholders, and through the establishment of corporate goals that are compatible with society’s sustainable development by preserving environmental and culture resources for future generations, respecting diversity and fostering the reduction of social differences” (Ethos Institute).
Critical Analysis: a global and in-depth verification to determine to what extent a project, product, service, process, or information meets its requirements in order to identify problems and propose solutions.
Critical Factors for Success: characteristics or conditions that may have a significant impact on a company’s successful performance or competitive position within a specific business field.
Cultural Value: beliefs and assumptions that prevail in an organization and that are shared by its members, who reproduce them in their organizational day-to-day.
Customer: an either internal or external individual who buys (buyer) and/or who uses a product or service (user/client)
Debenture: a security issued by a corporation to raise funds in order to invest or to finance working capital.
Diversity: the process of including socially discriminated minorities (women, specific ethnic groups, people with disabilities, etc.) in all decision levels.
Dividends: part of the profit made by a business, which is divided among those who own shares in the business. Dividends are usually declared on a company’s current or retained earnings.
Ecosystem: All the living and non-living, organic and inorganic elements in an area, that maintain a continuous and stable interdependence and form a unified whole that exchanges matter and energy internally and externally. An ecosystem is considered an ecological unit. The sum of all ecosystems constitutes the biosphere, that is, the part of the world in which life can exist.
Employability: in contrast to job security, it is a kind of “psychological agreement” between employers and employees. It involves three elements of the employment relation: a) the employee is responsible for developing the right skills to remain suitable to be employed within and outside the company; b) the employer is responsible for providing employees information, time, resources, and opportunities so that they can determine and develop the required skills; and c) the employment contract may be terminated if the employee’s contribution or aspirations do not match the employer’s needs.
Empowerment: the process of delegating authority so that subordinates can take part in the decision-making process.
Entrepreneur: a) someone who employs creativity and leadership skills to innovate by starting its own business and to generate new jobs; b) someone who creates a company; c) someone who assumes the risk of buying a company and implements changes; d) the employee who innovates and changes the existing values.
ETHOS Corporate Social Responsibility Indicators: a set of about 40 Corporate Social Responsibility Indicators. It is a management tool that allows companies to reevaluate themselves annually as to their performance in terms of corporate social responsibility and compare themselves with the national benchmarks obtained from the data of other companies that also have reevaluated themselves. Results are kept confidential, and the companies used as benchmarks are not identified so as to preserve the confidentiality of the information provided. Benchmarks are used as an evaluation tool for the purpose of granting several major national awards, including the Guia Exame da Boa Cidadania Corporativa (Good Corporate Citizenship – Exame Magazine Survey).
ETHOS Institute for Business and Social Responsibility: a non-governmental organization constituted in1998 by a group of Brazilian businessmen in order to spread the concepts and practices of Corporate Social responsibility and mobilize, encourage and help companies to implement CSR systems to manage their business in a socially responsible way.
Excellence: the exceptional conditions in the management performance and results attained by the organization through the continuous practice of the fundamentals of the systemic model.
Excellence Reference: practices, processes, results, products, or even entire organizations that can be considered the best in the world, in a country, or within a specific business field.
Expertise: the specialist’s skills or know-how; the sum of skills and knowledge on a specific field; appropriation of the accrued technical knowledge.
Global Compact: a declaration issued by the United Nations in 1999, whereby all companies that adhere to this international initiative undertake to support its 10 principles for Corporate Social Responsibility.
Globalization: the process that leads to an increased integration of economies and societies around the world, specially in terms of production of goods and services, financial markets, and disclosure of information. New communication and data processing technologies have contributed to the development of this phenomenon.
Global Reporting Initiative – GRI: Started in 1997, the Global Reporting Initiative – GRI is an independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines for voluntary use by organizations for reporting, with international comparability, on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services, comprising not only past performance but also commitments for the future.
Human Development Index – HDI: a summary composite index that measures a country’s average achievements in three basic aspects of human development: longevity, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Longevity is measured by life expectancy at birth; knowledge is measured by a combination of the adult literacy rate and the combined primary, secondary, and tertiary gross enrolment ratio; and standard of living by GDP per capita.
Indicators: data or numeric information that quantify the inputs (resources), outputs (products) and the performance of processes, products, and the organization as a whole. Indicators are used to monitor and improve results along the time and may be classified as simple (resulting from only one measurement) orcompound; direct or indirect, with respect to the feature being measured; specific (specific operations or processes) or global (results intended by the organization); and drivers or outcomes.
Innovation: the concept of innovation has evolved along the years, from a strict focus on the introduction of new products into the market to a larger scope that includes changes in services, marketing, and management systems. Under this point of view, innovation means the introduction, into any organization, of new ideas, related either to products, processes and services, to the management system, or to the market where the organization operates. From a managerial point of view, it is an effort to produce change, with a clear aim, in an organization’s economic or social potential.
Innovation Management: a) the set of managerial activities with the purpose of coordinating efforts to encourage employees’ creativity, as well as of providing research and development contexts for the creation of new products, services, or processes; b) the integration of management, evaluation, economical, engineering, computing, and mathematical methods and principles for the innovation process.
Intellectual Capital: set of intangible assets represented by the collection of knowledge and other generating factors involved in creating a competitive difference that adds value to the organization. The intellectual capital can comprise market, human, intellectual propriety, and structure assets.
Internal Marketing: a) the selling of institutional ideas; b) a company’s set of communication tools, actions, and campaigns to reach its internal audience. Its basic objective is to establish effective communication with the company’s partners, allowing the sharing of operational and strategic information within a corporation.
International Organization for Standardization – ISO: a non-governmental organization constituted in 1947 to set quality management standards suitable to each country. One of its aims is to facilitate the international interchange of goods and services and the cooperation in the realm of intellectual, scientific, technological and economic activities
Joint Venture: an association of two or more companies in a new business venture to operate in shared markets by selling products or complementing product development projects. A joint venture is usually established between a company with capital availability to fund the project and another with technical expertise or commercial contacts, or both. Under this concept, franchises may be considered as a kind of joint venture.
Know-How: technical knowledge, experience or skills required for a specific activity.
Knowledge: it comprises the technology, policies, procedures, databases and documentation, as well as people’s experience and skills. It is generated as a result of the analysis of the information gathered by the organization.
Knowledge Management: the intentionally articulated promotion of knowledge among the ones who need it, whenever and however necessary, with the purpose of increasing professional and organizational performance, and of ensuring information quality, fast process development, and creative generation and application of new knowledge bases. It’s the strategy involved in the implementation of coordinated actions which ensure companies the ability to capture, keep, recover, and analyze strategic information and knowledge for the development of its competitive edge.
Learning organization: every organization that creates a learning environment and encourages the sharing of tacit and theoretical knowledge; apprentice organization; a company that allows the involvement of all its members in the identifying and solution of problem areas.
Management: a) the art or practice of managing; administration; b) planning, organizing, leading and monitoring a company’s functions and/or operations.
Majority Shareholder: a person or organization owning a quantity of shares whose aggregated voting power entitles them to exercise control over a corporation.
Minority Shareholder: a person or organization owning a quantity of shares whose aggregated voting power does not entitle them to exercise control over a corporation.
Mission Statement: the statement of an organization’s purpose/reason for being, the social needs it should meet and its main business focus. The Mission Statement is instrumental to the establishment of the organization’s strategy. The Mission Statement must be known and understood throughout the company.
Network: a group of companies that interact with each another as suppliers, clients or partners in the process of technology transferring. It can also encompass research and technical centers, universities, and other public or private organizations interested in increasing its competitiveness, solving problems, conquering new markets, and developing and producing goods and services.
Non-Governmental Organization – NGO or Third Sector: an non-profit association constituted for a variety of purposes such as to further social solidarity, cooperation and development, to provide aid to refugees, to wipe out illiteracy, to foster family planning, to preserve the environment ,and to promote women’s rights.
Nonrenewable Resources: resources that cannot be replenished by nature within our lifetimes, and that men cannot create or manufacture, and are therefore in limited supply, such as fossil fuels, and groundwater.
Ombudsman: someone whose job is to solely protect public and private service users’ interests.
Organizational Climate: a set of perceptions shared by the members of an organization with respect to work, workplace facilities, interpersonal relations, and regulations affecting the work and the work environment.
Organizational Culture: a basic set of beliefs, values, attitudes, assumptions, and behaviors shared in the course of time by the members of an organization.
Organizational Guidelines: a set of guidelines that should be followed by the group of people in an organization, such as the company’s mission and vision statements, core values, beliefs, policies, codes of conduct, etc.
Organizational Learning: the process of collectively acquiring new bases of knowledge for adapting, generating, and improving a company’s production process.
Organizational Memory: set of processes and tools used for organizing, protecting, and promotion a company’s knowledge base.
Organizational Myth: an individual leader that is perceived as a company’s hero; someone who has granted a company’s soul and life.
Organizational Ritual: a collective event that gathers people who share the same cultural values.
Organizational Structure: a structure that divides the company work into specialized tasks, assigns these tasks to persons and departments and coordinates them by means of formal lines of authority and communication.
Organizational Values: opinions and expectancies that define employees’ behavior and on which all organizational relationships are based.
Outsourcing: the process of purchasing services or products from a source outside the company.
Ownership: the legal possession of shares in a company’s stock, which entitles the shareholder to own a respective part of that good.
Partnership: a stage of special and close relationship between two organizations resulting from a variety of factors and reasons. Partnerships aim to strengthen the relations with customers or with suppliers. In the first case, such factors or reasons might include a better understanding of customers’ needs and requirements and, in the latter, the amount of business between the organization and the supplier, the degree of the organization’s dependence on the supplier, or the criticality of the product or service offered by the supplier.
Patent: a set of exclusive temporary rights over an invention/innovation, utility model or industrial design granted by a state to its inventor or author, whether a person or persons or a legal entity. A patent grants the patentee a legal standing whereby the patented invention/innovation can only be exploited (manufactured, imported, sold and used) with the patentee’s approval.
Performance: the results attained as measured by the main processes and products indicators, which allows them to be evaluated and compared with the goals, standards, other applicable frames of reference, and other processes and products. Very often results express satisfaction, dissatisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness, and may be presented in financial amounts or in other ways.
Performance Evaluation: the process of identifying, observing, assessing, and improving the performance of a company’s human resources.
Planning: an organizational strategy involving a) a choice to perform certain tasks and the consequent establishment of general short and long-term objectives; b) the establishment of specific objectives for departments, areas, teams and employees; c) a selection of strategies; and d) allocation of human, technological and financial resources, equipment, and other resources.
Process: a set of resources and inter-related activities for turning inputs into outputs. This transformation must add value, as perceived by the process’ clients, requiring a certain amount of resources, which might include personnel, funds, facilities, equipment, methods and techniques, following a sequence of stages or systematic actions. The process may require that the sequence of stages be documented by means of specifications, procedures and work instructions, as well as that the measurement and control stages be adequately detailed.
Productive Chain: the set of all components of a productive process from the extraction of raw material to the sale of the end product to the final customer. It encompasses a company’s own workforce, the outsourced labor, and the workforce of its suppliers of goods and services.
Productivity: effectiveness in the use of resources; the relationship between the amount that is produced and the inputs needed to produce it.
Quality: the sum of features of an entity (i.e., an operation or process, a product, an organization or a combination of such elements) that enables it to meet customers’ implicit and explicit needs.
Recycling: process whereby a certain material is put back into the production cycle, after having been used and discharged, by being transformed again into a thing of use or value, thereby saving energy and preserving the environment and the natural resources.
Renewable Resources: natural resources employed in the vast array of human activities that have a way of regenerating themselves and whose future availability depends upon their not being depleted at a greater rate than the environment’s capacity to replenish them. A renewable resource may regenerate at a constant rate either by recycling rapidly (water) or by propagating and being propagated (organisms and ecosystems).
Research and Development – R&D: creative or entrepreneurial activities which are systematically developed to generate new knowledge or the innovative application of existing knowledge, and also to promote inquiries about new applications.
SA 8000 – Social Accountability 8000: a universal standard for companies interested in auditing and certifying labor practices in their facilities.
Self-Sustainability: the ability of a company to remain competitive in the market.
Share: a negotiable security representing any of the equal parts into which the ownership of a company can be divided.
Shareholder: an owner of shares in a business.
Social Balance Sheets: a means of providing transparency to corporate operations by showing the main indicators of the company’s economic, social and environmental performance. It’s also a tool to improvecommunication with all the company’s stakeholders and the public, comprising stockholders, customers and clients, immediate community, employees, suppliers, governments, NGOs, financial market, and society as a whole. Along its preparation, the social balance sheets are also a tool for the company to evaluate itself as they provide it an overview of corporative management and alignment of the company’s current and future values and objectives with its present results.
Social Work: any activity related to social welfare, such as providing food, health care, public safety, education, and economical development to a specific community. Social work can be executed by people or organizations with structured, monitored projects. In a broader sense, it can be understood as any meaningful action that comes as a result of an interaction between agents and their fellow men. In a narrower sense, it’s about strategies that aim to accomplish a social claim or to trigger a reformation in society or in some of its aspects.
Standardization: implementation of uniform and conscious procedures for the performance of a task; process of classification, disposition, homogenization and determination of activities, practices, and technologies pursuant a set of rules.
Stakeholders: all players involved in the company’s operations, as well as the ones that are somehow influenced by the company (employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, managers), the “watchers” (the State, the labor unions, other institutions, the media) and the civil society (communities and associations in the regions where the company operates).
Strategic Alliance: an association between corporations with the purpose of gathering material and human resources as a strategic option for growth. For instance, it can happen between product manufacturers and/or complementary services providers and/or competitive companies.
Strategic Planning: a process used to develop and analyze the purpose and philosophy of the company and to establish general objectives, strategies to be followed within a previously set timeframe, and resource allocation.
Strategy: the course of action chosen to competitively position the company in the market and to ensure its long-term survival, with the subsequent determination of the operations and inter-related competencies required to deliver value in a differentiated manner to its stakeholders. It’s a set of decisions that directs the actions an organization shall take. Strategies may lead to new products, new markets, increased revenues, cost reduction, acquisitions, mergers, and new alliances or partnerships.
Supplier: any organization that provides goods and services. Such goods and services may be employed at any stage of a project or production, or product utilization. Thus, suppliers may include distributors, resellers, outsourced services, transporters/carriers, independent contractors and franchisees, as well as those who supply materials and components to the organization. Suppliers also comprise those who provide healthcare, training and education.
Sustainability: compatibility of the exploitation of resources with capital expenditures directed towards technological development and institutional changes on account of the environmental responsibilities of the productive sector; conduction of business and use of natural resources which take into account the future generations’ right to life.
Tag Along: a mechanism used to grant minority shareholders the right to include their shares in any sale of control and at the offered price.
Top Management: includes directors, officers and other managers who share responsibility for the organization’s performance and results.
Value Added: refers to the additional value created when a company purchases and improves a product or service before making it available to their customers; the knowledge built into a product service or process.
Vision Statement: it expresses the company’s basic ideology, the future it seeks to create. It comprises specific goals and the ways to achieve them according to a certain planning process (JURAN, 1990). It refletcs the corporate image of a desirable future involving customers, employees and shareholders/owners.
Waste: any unwanted or undesirable gaseous, liquid or solid substance that constitutes remainders of a process of production, transformation, extraction of natural resources, manufacture or consumption of products and services.
Workforce: the people who work in an organization and contribute towards the attainment of its strategies, objectives, and goals, such as full-time or part-time employees, temps, interns, independent contractors, and outsourced workers under the direct coordination of the organization.
Workshop: a short duration meeting of people to share and develop ideas, techniques, skills, knowledge, crafts, etc; a meeting of workgroups involved with certain project or activity to discuss and/or present such project or activity.