“We need to do much more to maintain our planet, we need to reinvigorate, revitalize, give back energy”
Chat with Gui Arruda, CEO of VG Resíduos
Historic storms that devastate entire cities, thermometer readings that exceed records and endless droughts have long denounced the alarming climate crisis we are experiencing. In an attempt to stop so much damage, being sustainable is no longer enough. To reverse the damage, it will be necessary to rebuild – the environment and mentalities.
Yes, doing your part to zero negative impacts (whether you are an individual or a company) is no longer useful. The measures that need to be taken, urgently, must aim at revitalizing what was destroyed. And that’s what the regenerative economy is for.
In this new system, companies concentrate their efforts to create businesses that, besides generating profit, generate positive impacts to the environment and to society.
According to Gui Arruda, CEO of “VG Resíduos”, one of the most promising startups in the environmental area, research from Scientific Reports, conducted in 2020, shows that this ‘point of no return’ has already passed. This was one of the points highlighted during the COP 26 (2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference), which recently gathered the world’s main leaders in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The consensus is that we need to do much more to maintain our planet, we need to reinvigorate, revitalize the environment, give back energy. In general, this is the concept of the regenerative economy and one of the main ways we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 agenda.”
Generating positive impacts is a matter of survival
While in the sharing era the value was in the “customer experience”, today, in a regenerative economy, the value starts to be measured by the impacts that the business generates on people, the ecosystem and society. According to Arruda, PWC studies show that 77% of consumers intend to stop buying products that are not appropriate for ESG in the next 2 years.
In other words, provoking positive socio-environmental impacts is a matter of survival for companies and governments. “The big challenge is what to do to become regenerative. We understand, at VGR, that our role is to expand beyond our stakeholders to impact the whole society. We have stopped being a waste management tool to become one of the paths to the regenerative journey.”
The role of business in creating a regenerative society
“Companies have a fundamental role in creating a regenerative society. In this ‘new world’, I see organizations as a platform for personal development, aligning personal purpose with company purpose, allowing each person to explore their potential and impact society as a whole. For this to happen, companies need to encourage people to identify their purpose and create conditions for this purpose to be exercised. Create conditions, giving freedom, autonomy, and education that support people in this development,” stresses Gui Arruda.
In practice, and in a more immediate way, the executive cites initiatives around training and selection processes focused on social groups that have had fewer opportunities with the goal of creating a more diverse environment and with people who have different life experiences. “These are actions that can already be seen in some companies and besides social regeneration, they favor creativity and innovation.”
Regenerating is also including and developing those who have not had opportunities
According to Arruda, it is natural to think that different opinions, different experiences and views combined have a higher probability of generating a better result than just one opinion or view. And so this diverse and inclusive environment is something that companies are trying to build. However, in practice this has been a challenge because due to historical and structural problems the biggest offerings on the market are similar professionals with similar views and experiences.
“And when we study about the topic, one of the pillars of the regenerative economy is personal development,” he unleashes. Instead of trying to find already prepared professionals in the market, regenerative companies propose to train and develop people who haven’t had opportunities or are from under-represented groups, or from places outside the RJ-SP axis. And the great benefit is that they manage to create this inclusive and diverse environment so desired, and still become a place where talents want to be, because they offer autonomy and freedom for employees to exercise their purpose.”
Freedom to be yourself, without distinctions between personal and professional life
Gui Arruda also calls attention to the practices, among regenerative companies, that stimulate autonomy and freedom. “They are divided in three pillars: self-management and integrality, besides the evolutionary purpose that I mentioned above. In the case of self-management, the company is organized as a ‘living system’ where each person works as a ‘sensor’ that captures tensions or improvement opportunities and also as a ‘brain’ creating improvement proposals and having the autonomy to implement them. And this decentralization of power reaches even the most controversial points of the company’s daily routine, such as defining salaries, hiring and firing processes. An innovative model compared to the traditional one, where companies resemble ‘machines’ that have a layer on top that makes the decisions and gives the commands for the ‘gears’ to run.
In the case of integrality, regenerative organizations provide a space where people can be themselves, without the need to have a distinction between ‘personal personality’ and ‘professional personality’, this makes people feel involved and an essential part of a living organism, generating greater engagement and sense of belonging. “The ‘check in’ and ‘check out’ at the beginning and end of each meeting at VGR is an example of integrality practice. At ‘check in’ each person quickly brings how they are feeling as they enter the meeting,” he says. To illustrate, Arruda cites a situation that occurred recently with his team. “In a meeting we had about budgeting, one of the employees said he was very worried because his grandmother had just been hospitalized with Covid. The meeting was conducted very differently than it would have been if everyone was in ‘normal condition’. This is a way of considering the human being as a whole in the day to day work and not just a machine that has to ‘forget’ its concerns and personal problems to be in the work environment.”