México | CADIS
With a focus on scientific based, integral sustainability implementation, CADIS is bringing long-term sustainable change to Latin America. As a result, a very practical approach to social sustainability.
Company profile: Combining academics and business sense for sustainable success
It took “enthusiasm and great motivation” for Nydia Suppen and Amalia Sojo to found their sustainability firm, CADIS, in 2005. After earning their doctoral degrees, the founders were frequently overwhelmed by long, academic discussions that often felt ineffectual. But when initiatives like UNEP began, they saw a chance to apply those academic discussions in a practical and sustainable manner. “We utilize the scientific basis that supports corporate decision-making,” when helping clients, says Suppen. “By basing decisions on our experienced, solid academic fundamentals,” clients get a measured and thoughtful approach to sustainability.
The company now boasts clients in many sectors, from municipal governments in Mexico, Canada, Chile, and Venezuela; to universities in Latin America; to consumer product goods companies like Unilever and Colgate. “Speaking the same language as our customers, literally and figuratively,” Suppen said, “gives CADIS a deep knowledge of the regional and cultural context of where our customers are coming from, and what they are dealing with.” She added, “It’s kind of making the customers fall in love with you, and replying this love.” Suppen and Sojo believe that this personal touch, coupled with regional knowledge, is what helps CADIS stand out against competitors like Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Today, CADIS is busy assisting clients with sustainability implementation, as well as speaking in Mexico and across the world, in both academic and corporate settings. This mixed audience benefits from CADIS’s varied academic and practical experience. With a focus on communication and a practical awareness of their client’s needs, CADIS is helping Latin America successfully embrace sustainability.
Partnership with PRé: Longevity and shared values for all
Nearly a decade before CADIS was founded, Suppen’s growing interest in sustainability caused to her email PRé Founder Mark Goedkoop about SimaPro. From there, their collaboration grew. In the following years, they met often at events and conferences, with Suppen sometimes assisting Goedkoop with workshops.
Then, in 2005, when CADIS formed, the company joined the SimaPro Partner Network, distributing the software in Mexico and other countries across Latin America. “We give SimaPro and PRé a presence in our regional market. We are the ambassadors of SimaPro in Mexico and Latin America.”
A similar mindset has helped the partnership blossom. “We are fine-tuned to work together, and have the same vision of sustainability implementation,” said Suppen.
Indeed, CADIS believes in the importance of transparency, a core value of PRé, integral to our business practices and the success of our clients. In addition, an open-sourced generation of scientific methods gives Suppen and Sojo many resources for innovation and inspiration. “The way we collaborate is totally based on trust,” said Suppen. “It’s very gratifying to do business in such a natural way — it doesn’t really feel like doing business!”
Industry snapshot: Organic sustainability adoption across Latin America
Social sustainability hit the mainstream in Mexico when the CEMEFI (Centro Mexicano de la Filantropía) began recognizing businesses as “Socially Responsible Enterprises.” Suppen told us, “A lot of organizations wanted to have one of those certificates. You can say that the main driver at that time was reputation building, but not really getting into depth.” This helped start a revolution of sorts among Mexican businesses, as they begin to work in a “natural and more honest” way about sustainability adoption.
But there are still hurtles to overcome. “Organizations are now very careful about what they communicate about their works in social sustainability,” Suppen said. “I guess that is because they are now involved in a more personal relationship with the suppliers, and that makes them feel they don’t want to talk badly about them. But of course, also because the organizations are under fire, so they are afraid of being crucified by the media and the NGOs.”
Positive regulators are changing the landscape, for example, corruption is decreasing. Suppen told us: “there is remarkably less and less corruption” than 10 years ago. Two contributing factors are the Transparency Law, assisting with financial control, as well as Ethics Codes, established by many organizations.
But how did CADIS come to be involved in social sustainability?
It was an organic process. “We focus on offering consultancy and software in sustainability,” Suppen stressed. “It’s just that, if you work with real sustainability implementation, the social aspect comes as an integrated factor.”
CADIS entered the social sustainability sphere through a project with the i-GEMI (Global Environmental Management Initiative in México), working on an “ethics communication project,” said Suppen. “CADIS built a network of institutions and experts working with social aspects.”
Now the company is working on an Environmental Leadership project, established to improve the value chain through sustainability implementation. “An important factor of this value chain is, of course, the product/supply chain,” said Suppen. “So we have to work with real aspects of social sustainability. We just get confronted with the raw facts. If you want to improve the product supply chain, you will have to improve the working conditions, the community, etc., in an integral way. And to do that, you will get to know what the people behind the supply chain are actually doing, and what their context is.” In this way, Suppen believes, “the improvement is durable.”
Through this work, Suppen and Sojo are hopeful for the future of social sustainability adoption. Though there are still obstacles to overcome. Suppen told us, “The biggest, the most tricky aspect of social sustainability implementation is actually the social factor itself,” in particularly data collection. “There is not an exact formula for people. So if you want to collect real data, you will have to ask the people, and observe them. But they are not always willing to collaborate. You have to be very tactful and careful to make them trust you. So communication at all levels, that’s crucial. You will need to be a good observer and listener.” Suppen stressed that tact and empathy are imperative. “You have to realize that you are working with people, and people are always linked to their culture and context. To collect real data you have to work at a very local level every time.”
With their rigorous academic training, dedication to clients, and socially integrated approach to sustainability work, CADIS is poised for great success. “Social-focused sustainability will keep growing and developing,” said Suppen. “But you have to realize that this is a long-term perspective.”
With a dedicated Suppen and Sojo leading the way, we can’t wait to see what they accomplish.