This is the Year of Dialogue at Aberje

Aberje encourages leadership through dialogue

Diogo Antonio Rodriguez




Prescribing dialogue as a remedy for all social and institutional ills has become commonplace. The more urgent task may be to question what is dialogue and what are the changes today’s society requires. Are we prepared to establish a level of discussion that can address these changes? In the panorama of recent important transformations, Aberje (Brazilian Association of Corporate Communications) considers dialogue an essential activity in the practice of leadership. Yet, this idea must be in line with the necessary changes needed to improve Brazil and the world. This is the reason for the theme of Aberje in 2016: “Dialogue to Lead.” It inspired an article published in the newspaper Correio Brasiliense, in which Paulo Nassar and Paulo Marinho, of Aberje, explained the importance of dialogue to lead with quality.

To define the concept of leadership through communication Aberje relied on several studies that were produced throughout 2015. The most significant one focuses on compliance, a term that signifies conformance with a set of norms and rules of conduct companies adopt to implement transparency in governance and adherence with the laws and guidelines of the society in which they operate. Above all, today’s leaders must pay particular attention to ethical issues. In fact, ethics is about sharing values, making the best choices, and finally making decisions.

It is not sufficient for companies to simply lead the interaction with their respective audiences. It is also necessary that organizations encourage dialogue between them and at different levels. “It would be incorrect to say that dialogue is a trend,” says Paulo Nassar, President of Aberje and Associate Professor at the School of Communications and The Arts of São Paulo (ECA-USP). “It is permanent theme.”

According to him, the crucial moments of dialogue in the 20th century came after two world wars. “In the second part of the century, we had the Vietnam War and other conflicts that continued into the 21st century,” he points out. “At the moment in Brazil, dialogue happens because we are in a time of crisis, not only economic but moral, political, cultural, technological, with mobility, basic sanitation and all of the problems we see in the streets. We need to establish points of contact, whether they be personal, institutional or corporate for the formation of a leadership that seeks the real transformation of society. ”

Every year, the association focuses on a relevant issue in an effort to deepen its understanding for the benefit of the wider Brazilian communications community.

The motto “Dialogue to Lead” – which permeates all activities and content production of the association in 2016 – aims to contribute to the needed changes.

One of the fundamental principles of Aberje, according to Nassar, is the value it puts on innovation in communications and technology because of their increasing role in our everyday lives.

This innovative vision applies to a time when authoritarian hierarchies have been overcome, according to Hamilton dos Santos, general director of Aberje. “When Aberje raises this issue, it is because we are preoccupied with improving the techniques of debate, so as to increase the relevance and quality of dialogue. Unilateral narratives no longer make sense, as modern technologies have created new social arrangements. In the area of management, for example, professorial meetings are no longer useful. A good manager is one who holds ongoing conversations with the team, individually, in groups and in pairs, always debating and assessing different viewpoints. Above all, managers should have the courage and willingness to allow their own ideas to be questioned and argued, while at the same time having the perseverance and conviction to defend them when they feel they are essential to the desired results.”

Aberje is a professional and scientific nonprofit organization whose main objective is the discussion and promotion of corporate and organizational communications from a global and local perspective. Its actions focus on information, communications and relationships through the various areas of the organization such as Institutional Relationships, Events, Educational Programs, Publications, Design, The Memory and Reference Center, Relationships with Partners, Awards, Social and Market intelligence and Digital and Audiovisual  Content.

This year, the qualities for an effective and democratic dialogue will be explored with the aim of focusing on two key issues that are fundamental to this process.

The first is the education and training of the company and its employees. According to Santos, the association “supports the need for organizations to have a strong communications department. He believes this is necessary in order to be prepared for a society that requires effective responses to their needs and aspirations.” The second is the reliance on professionals who are capable in the areas of behavior and management. “In two words ethics and transparency,” he says.

Aberje collaborates with other institutions in the training of professionals. Together they are developing a certification program in Communications Management in Companies and Institutions. The purpose of the program is to allow communicators to undergo a process of self evaluation concerning their knowledge, techniques, conduct and professional skills. One of the main objectives of the certification is to encourage the ongoing education of professionals and to keep them up to date with new forms, channels and tools of dialogue with their stakeholders.

The certification is being developed in accordance with global standards for communications management with adaptations and adjustments that meet the Brazilian reality.

In addition to proposing discussions and listening to what others have to say, it is necessary to set an example and lead, as the name of the 2016 theme states.

“Leading to what?” asks Santos. “To change society, that is what we are proposing. These changes must occur in a way so that values are preserved. ”

Among the values advocated by Aberje are ethics, innovation, pluralism and humanism.

“Our actions must have a contemporary and democratic component, in line with the best that technology can provide,” says Nassar. “The vision of imposing content and directions, without any kind of discussion, has no future in the fertile ground within the democratic environment.”

In this respect, it was important to review the research “Panorama of Ethics and Transparency in Organizations: context, concept, strategy and communications practices,” published on the website. It was coordinated by Rodrigo Cogo, responsible for Market Intelligence at Aberje and Carlos Ramello, director of human resources and planning at Aberje. The research presents a diagnosis of communication in terms of ethics, compliance and corporate governance in Brazilian companies. 92 organizations across the country participated in the research. The results showed that 75% of those organizations surveyed have a structured compliance area. Most (77%) have a committee to deal with this kind of issue. Just over half (52%) publishes the company’s compliance policy on the intranet. On the other hand, 92% offer secure channels to receive complaints of violations of the programs. The different challenges presented by the participating institutions were also investigated. The three most important are: management of third-party compliance risk, compliance with policies by employees and the implementation of risk assessment processes.

Research shows, according to Ramello, that “there is a need to bring compliance policies to more companies and integrate them with the departments of communications so it is clear to employees and suppliers which parameters and values of the organization they are expected to adhere to.”

Therefore, the question of compliance and ethics becomes fundamental to the daily life of companies. As issues grow in complexity, it is no longer enough for companies to communicate vision, mission and values unilaterally. It is necessary that the communications departments help companies deal with complex issues involving interaction, reaction and dialogue – and, in this way, renew the identity and brand and insure the involvement of all participants. Thus, communicators are increasingly asked to participate in strategic decision making. It is they who must establish contact between the company and their suppliers, their employees and their public. Companies must do more than just express intentions. To be a leader and innovate, they need to open channels for contact. “This is leading,” says Paulo Nassar.