Making Consumption an Act of Global Citizenship:
An Interview with Felipe Arango
Managing Director, BSD Consulting

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I would like my buying decisions to line up with my values. I want to know that the companies I buy from treat the planet, their employees and their suppliers well. I want to know that they have high standards of transparency when reporting what they are doing to build a more sustainable environment and value chain.

Felipe Arango, Managing Director, BSD Consulting

But I rarely give much thought to this when I actually make a purchase. It just seems like too much work to do all the research necessary to make an informed decision.

Last month I interviewed Felipe Arango, the Managing Director of the BSD Consulting Network. His company (whose initials stand for business, sustainability, and development) works with citizen groups, businesses, and governments to set up methods for measuring whether the way they work aligns with the values they espouse. Felipe’s work has included helping Fair Trade develop their processes for evaluating the treatment of workers and the environment in product supply chains. He has also worked with the Global Reporting Initiative, Social Accountability International and the Smart Campaign in creating their assessment systems. He has two very interesting projects that he’s working on now. Blockchain for Social Impact works to harness the power of blockchains to certify the social performance of companies. Welcoming International assesses cities and counties on how welcoming they are to immigrants and refugees.

Those of you who have watched other interviews I have done know that I usually ask the same four questions in every interview. Unfortunately, in my interview with Felipe my camera’s memory ran out before the interview ended, so I didn’t capture his answers to the last three questions. I can let you know that the best investment he ever made was following his girlfriend to Brazil after university. It yielded him both a wife and a job with the company he continues to work with today.

In the interview, Felipe tells us:

  • His earliest memory of money (0:00)
  • How growing up in a city (Bogotá) with great inequality affected him, and how a Benedictine school showed him how to notice inequality (0:50)
  • What he learned from his father, who worked with businesses, politicians and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (2:04)
  • What going to Boston University and working on Wall Street taught him (3:19)
  • The important lessons he learned from working with an institute set up to honor a presidential candidate murdered by Pablo Escobar (8:28)
  • How he came to work for BSD (9:49)
  • How society can set social norms that keep businesses in line (10:43)
  • What it takes to measure a company’s or government’s actions according to its espoused values (11:48)

The work that Felipe and BSD do gives me hope that it is possible to integrate my values with my purchases. His work helps provide symbols that show up on products that can give me confidence that the company promotes the sustainability of the environment and of all the workers involved in producing, transporting and selling the product. His work makes it possible for us to make our consumption an act of citizenship in our global economy.

 
 
 

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