Argentina , Costa Rica and Brazil
Q&A

Moody’s efforts in Latin America’s CSR push

Bnamericas
Moody’s efforts in Latin America’s CSR push

Social demands related to the business world have been steadily increasing over the past decade, as consumers become more aware of the impact economic activities have on society and the environment. 

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a major focus of companies to address these concerns, with programs ranging from environmental protection funds to assisting non-profit organizations.

To learn about Moody’s approach to this field in Latin America, BNamericas spoke with the Moody's Corporation’s global head of community impact, Jennifer Rivera, who is also VP of Moody’s Foundation, where she oversees the company’s philanthropic and employee engagement programs.

BNamericas: What are Moody's main corporate social responsibility programs in Latin America?

Rivera: We have five core programs that we support in this region. 

The first is a program with MarViva which contributes to spatial and marine management and the promotion of responsible market dynamics for marine products and services in Costa Rica. We support a sustainable fishing and market practices program in Costa Rica as well. 

We also partner with Conciencia in Argentina. The program we're supporting there is called Starting Your Future, which works with small business owners to really provide them one-on-one support and group mentoring opportunities, as well as workshops to help build specific business owner needs. 

We also partner with Instituto Perene, which is in Brazil’s Bahia state, where we're funding the creation of clean cooking stoves in the Amazon

We also work with a global nonprofit in Latin America, Village Capital. They're the world's largest organization supporting impact-driven seed stage startups. And in Latin America specifically, we're funding the Innovation for Ecosystem Restoration program, which supports startup companies who are working to improve ecosystem restoration.

Lastly, the other global nonprofit that we've worked with, who has a focus on Latin America, is We Connect International, which is a global network that connects women-owned businesses to qualified buyers around the world. In that case we're supporting the Financing Your Growing Business program, which supports women entrepreneurs through interactive boot camps and online training modules that focus specifically on credit training and access to markets and capital.

BNamericas What other regional CSR initiatives is Moody’s planning for the short or medium term?

Rivera: We have a good spread of activities and partners in Latin America right now, as we've really been focused on that region for the last few years. 

We’re looking at extending two of our existing social investing partnerships already in the region to additional countries in 2024. 

On the employee engagement side, we just wrapped up our annual Moody's TeamUp Global Month of Service campaign in June, where nearly 300 employees volunteered in Latin America at eight different organizations across the region throughout the month of June. 

The campaign globally resulted in a 26% participation rate of our employees, which is significantly higher than the industry benchmark of 17%. We'll also be launching our Moody's Future Solutions program in October, which is our annual pro bono program that leverages skills and expertise of our employees to help nonprofits in the region. 

There's a number of projects that'll be happening around the globe, and therefore Latin America as well. 

We believe that by offering programs globally, it helps our colleagues stay connected to our mission and our values. It provides an avenue for everyone to feel part of a global movement.

BNamericas: Which industries or sectors in Latin America are showing the greatest advances in corporate social responsibility?

Rivera: I wouldn't say that there’s any specific sector. In general, I would say it's really that success is dependent on the strategy.

In my view, it's more about at the company level. Companies that are aligning their community efforts with the company mission, values, and business objectives, they really have the greatest strength and, in my opinion, see the greatest advances. It's also a very authentic and strategic approach to corporate social responsibility when you align your social priorities with your business objectives and values.

BNamericas: A couple of months ago BNamericas hosted a webinar on ESG standards. Panelists voiced concerns regarding the possibility of governance standards being ignored. Do you agree with this sentiment?

Rivera: I believe that governance should be a part of everything even though ESG would be outside my role of responsibility.

BNamericas: Can you comment on your career path and your current role at Moody’s?

Rivera: I did not expect to [find] myself in a job in finance. I grew up in a working class family and I'm the first in my family to go to college. 

Currently I’m the global head of community impact and I lead our community impact programs, which have two portfolios. The first is the Moody's Foundation, which is where we make our social investments or grants. And then the other is our employee engagement programs. 

Within the Moody's Foundation, the focus is to provide social investments or grants to global nonprofits who are supporting our two strategic focus areas, which are around empowering small businesses and the second is supporting ecosystem restoration in emerging markets. 

We complement our strategic focus priorities by being intentional about addressing local needs and employee passions. We have three responsive giving funds which include our Matching Gifts and Dollars for Doers program, we have a Crisis Response fund that addresses natural disasters and crises around the world, and then lastly is the Community Giving fund that is directed by our Business Resource Groups. 

And then the other side of the portfolio, which is the employee engagement programs, is where we provide volunteer service and pro bono access to our products and services to assist nonprofits. And our programs really prioritize our employees' voice and choice, to ensure that our people can serve their passions and build critical skills.

But while we have two portfolios, we do take a comprehensive approach to our social investing, which I think is a differentiator for Moody's. 

It's not just about giving money or financial capital. We also use our human and social capital to assist our nonprofit partners in their efforts to help communities that are affected by social and economic inequalities. We weave volunteering into that model. So we support our partners with expertise of our people, but we also allow our colleagues the opportunity to use their skills in a different way in helping the community. It's really a win-win situation. 

We always look for ways to also incorporate pro bono access to any research or products or services that Moody's has that might help build capacity for our nonprofit partners. And volunteering with our social investing partners also allows our colleagues to get to know our partners and have that first-hand experience learning more about the good work that they are doing that Moody's is helping to financially support.

BNamericas: How do you feel about your position as a woman with a leadership role in the finance sector?

Rivera: I take it very seriously. As a woman with a leadership role in the finance sector, I feel incredibly proud and grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact. I believe that diversity and inclusion are essential in any industry and being a woman in a leadership position allows me to bring a unique perspective and contribute to the growth and success of my team and organization.

In my role, I strive to challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and inspire other women to pursue leadership positions. I firmly believe that gender should never be a barrier to success, and I am committed to fostering an inclusive and supportive environment where everyone can thrive, regardless of their gender. 

I also think it is really important to help lift up the next generation of women leaders, which is why I think it’s important to share my story of humble beginnings and where I've gotten with hard work and integrity. It can be a challenge to get to very senior roles and I think it’s the duty and responsibility of all women in senior positions to help lift up and support other women.

Being in a leadership role also allows me to mentor and guide others, especially women, who aspire to excel in the finance sector. I am passionate about empowering individuals, helping them develop their skills, and providing them with the necessary tools to achieve their goals.

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  • The description included in this profile was taken directly from an official source and has not been modified or edited by the BNamericas’ researchers. However, it may have been...