Is the social inclusion of the workforce in Colombia unsustainable? *


La inclusión social de la fuerza laboral en Colombia.  ¿En contravía de lo sostenible?


A inclusão social da força de trabalho na Colômbia. É isto contrario do sustentável?


Orlando E. Contreras**

Aura C. Pedraza Avella***

Carolina Herrera Gómez****


Research article


Date of reception: 3 sep 2014

Date of approval: 25 jun 2015



This article demonstrates, through the analysis of official data, that in Colombia there are considerable differences regarding the social inclusion of the employees of the productive system, based on a framework that takes into account employment quality as part of a comprehensive understanding of business sustainability and the object of social responsibility policies. The conclusions reached demonstrate that the most excluded of people hold inferior quality employment which shows the job instability that exists in the country. This situation suggests that the Colombian business community needs a systematic review of its sustainability policies, particularly in relation to the type of employment it is providing, considering that work is a highly influential aspect in a person’s life.


Keywords: sustainability, corporate social responsibility, employment, social exclusion, social inclusion, job instability.


JEL: I3, J0, L2, M1.




Teniendo en cuenta la calidad del empleo como parte del concepto integral de sostenibilidad empresarial, el presente artículo demuestra a través del análisis de datos oficiales, que en Colombia se presentan diferencias considerables en cuanto a la inclusión social de los empleados de su sistema productivo. Las conclusiones obtenidas evidencian que los más excluidos poseen empleos de inferior calidad, como muestra de la precariedad laboral presente en el país. Esta situación indica que la revisión sistemática de sus políticas de sostenibilidad constituye una necesidad para el empresariado colombiano, particularmente en lo relacionado con el tipo de empleo que está brindando, considerando que el trabajo es un aspecto altamente influyente en la vida de los individuos.


Palabras clave: sostenibilidad, responsabilidad social empresarial, empleo, exclusión social, inclusión social, precariedad laboral.




Levando em conta a qualidade do emprego como parte do conceito integral da sustentabilidade empresarial, o presente artigo comprova através de uma análise de dados oficiais, que na Colômbia apresentam diferenças importantes sobre a inclusão social dos empregados do seu sistema produtivo. As conclusões obtidas mostram que os mais excluídos têm empregos de qualidade inferior como sinal da precariedade laboral presente no país. Este tipo de situação permite perceber que a revisão sistemática das suas políticas de sustentabilidade constitui uma necessidade para o empreendedorismo colombiano, especificamente com relação ao tipo de emprego que está sendo fornecido, levando em conta que o trabalho é um aspecto muito influente na vida das pessoas.


Palavras-chave: Sustentabilidade. Responsabilidade Social Empresarial. Emprego. Exclusão Social. Inclusão social. Precariedade Laboral.




The production system of a country, represented by its companies, is considered to be the fundamental pillar of economic growth. However, it is clear that their actions have not always brought positive consequences to society. Harmful effects as regards the environment, the society and even the economy, have meant that nowadays there is a demand from society towards a greater commitment to responsibility as regards corporate behavior. In this context, the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) emerges, which, according to the report of meeting number 295 of the Governing Body of the International Labor Organization-ILO (2006), “it is a reflection of the way in which enterprises take into consideration the repercussions that their actions have on society.” In this sense, as expressed by Lafuente, Viñuales, Pueyo and Llaría (2003, p. 7),


It is said that organizations exercise their social responsibility when they pay attention to the expectations that different interest groups have of them (such as employees, associates, clients, local communities, environmentalists, shareholders, and suppliers) with the ultimate purpose of contributing to development that is both socially and environmentally sustainable and economically viable. 



Approximations to the theory and practice of the concept of corporate social responsibility have been outlined since the contextualization of executive functions by Barnard (1938), passing through Levitt’s(1958) pragmatism, Fiedman’s (1970) utilitarianism, the development of the useful stakeholder theory by Freeman (1990), and, of course, landing on what could be the first connection between the  capacity of organizations to compete and the need for accountability, through a referential framework based on the resources of the firm, which was originally suggested by Wernerfelt (1984) and retaken by Hart (2005) later on in a practical context with one sole approach to environmental damage, which was later on called environmental social responsibility.


However, subsequently in the literature a tendency is perceived to conceptually consolidate the topics concerning social, environmental, and financial welfare, with respect to the demand of the society for more responsibility in corporate behavior, and it is there where sustainability1 is contextualized. As a reference, we can see how, for example, McWilliams, Siegel, and Wright (2006) make an alignment of concepts between corporate social responsibility and strategy, which in the end was retaken by Porter and Kramer (2006 and 2011) where, among other things, they highlight the need to go deeper into the topic and the concern raised by members of the top management of large organizations concerning this idea. Now it was not an issue of giving back to society or the environment in some way for the mark left by the wrong-doing of companies, it was a question of survival that in the future would be coherent with the actions that are carried out on all levels in the corporate context. Sustainability had been officially presented as a concept and as one of the dominant paradigms in the context of the formulation and implementation of a strategy oriented to guaranteeing the survival of the society and, by definition, of business.


From there, multiple contributions made that tendency evident, in academic as well as in practical terms, to the extent that, inevitably, some authors like Pinillos and Fernández (2011) affirmed that beyond the concepts of social responsibility and corporate philanthropy, the current referential framework should have an effective orientation towards business sustainability, which is directly associated with the creation of long-term integral value, that is to say, that this should be the conceptual reference from now on. In this way, it is concluded that tendency of starting up and running businesses that have a positive impact in the environment or on the society is totally compatible and coherent (actually, almost synergic) with the legitimate interests of the creation of the financial wealth of businessmen, and for this reason, corporate sustainability is referred to as an integrating concept.

Now, taking into account that employees are part of that society that companies should positively impact, there appears the concept of sustainability in the internal context of organizations. “Socially responsible practices that have an influence on the internal context of the organization, affect, first of all, the workers and refer to matters related to the management of and investment in human resources, health, and safety at work, and in the management of change and maintaining a healthy work environment” (European Council, 2002, p. 8). At the same time, the Sustainability norm ISO 26000 (2010) affirms that the creation of work posts, as well as salaries and compensations, is one of the principal ways in which companies can contribute to society.


Thus, the idea of what is sustainable has been encompassing practically all the areas of organizations, including their employees through the day to day actions and decisions made by the company and that affect or are affected by this important stakeholder. Understanding the impact (positive or negative) had on organizational performance that the integral state of human resources causes is a fact that has been widely dealt with in the literature and that reaches it peak with the conclusions of Spreitzer and Porat (2012), which were schematized in the light of what they called corporate prosperity in a direct causal relationship with the same prosperity of their employees.


And it is precisely in this point where a connection is clearly found (or better, a disconnection), dialectical and conceptual, which makes evident the fact that social exclusion generates an effect against sustainable development, as it is universally defined as “that which satisfies the present needs without compromising the capacity of future generations to satisfy their own needs” (Brundtland Report, UN, 1987). By way of example, to the extent that people have low quality jobs, it is clear that with the incomplete satisfaction of their needs, not only their current development is being jeopardized, but also the development of their families is neglected and, by definition, the capacity to satisfy the needs of their future generations. In this sense, authors such as Earnes & Adebowale (2012), Dempsey, Bramley, Power & Brown (2012), and Fritz & Koach (2014), as well as studies from both, the International Labor Organization (Poschen, 2012) and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (Dugarova & Lavers, 2014) have expressed and in many cases have demonstrated the existence of said correlation that, in the same way, constitutes the center of our discussion.


It is to be expected, then, that companies with good practices as regards sustainability in their internal context, contribute to society with employees who are not socially excluded, and that those who are not committed to maintaining good sustainable internal practices generate contrary results. Therefore, it would be expected that, as affirmed by the European Council (2002), employment was a safeguard against social exclusion.


Due to the above mentioned, it is possible to assert that one of the consequences of corporate sustainability is a better quality of life of employees, understanding this as


The perception individuals have of their place in existence, within the context of culture, and of the system of values in which they live and in relation to their objectives, expectations, norms, and concerns. It is a very broad concept influenced in a complex manner by the subjects’ physical health, their psychological status, level of independence, and social relationships, as well as their relationship with the essential elements of their environment (WHO, 1995, p. 41). 


In relation to the concept, as Pedraza (2012) defines it, based on Amartya Sen (1985, 1993 and 2000), the state of social exclusion of an individual can be defined as an interweaving of relevant deprivations, relative to the society where they live2 and it will be directly related to the nature of the life that they lead in comparison with the rest of the individuals in their society, going beyond income or personal possessions and considering their human capital, social capital and political, spatial, labor integration3. According to Sen (2000), an individual’s well-being will not be determined by the goods they possess, but rather their functioning, which means, by the things a person manages to be or to do in their life. This theoretical approximation of social exclusion, says Sen (2000), has its roots in Aristotelian thought, present in Nicomachean Ethics, for example, where it is affirmed that all individuals live in an “inescapable social life.”

People can suffer simultaneously from deprivations in some or all of the functionings of the relevant dimensions which are, the physical, human capital, economic, social capital, political, and labor4. In an elemental description of the standards of living, the physical dimension will include functionings of localization and infrastructure, that of human capital such as health and education, the economic dimension will gather information about income and estate, that of social capital will group the functionings of interpersonal relationships, the political one will account for the exercise of rights and citizenship and, finally, the labor dimension will signal the individual’s participation in the labor market. The independence of the last, which some authors like De Haan (1999) include in the economic dimension, is valid in the fact that capitalist societies have been based on labor and the individuals remain for most of their lives in work environments; employment not only guarantees a level of income, but also turns into the physical location of the individual, their possibilities to acquire human capital, and their social and political cohesion. 

Given its multidimensional nature, the state of social exclusion can be caused by any of the relevant deprivations, given that, as suggested by Rubio and Monteros (2002), each one of the situations of disadvantage back feed into one another. However, the labor dimension could have a greater probability of initiating the accumulation of disadvantages (Pedraza, 2010, p.19); this, taking into consideration that participation in the labor market provides, apart from income security, a space for development, status, and an identity5.  Employment involves an opportunity for self-realization and is an instrument of socialization (Pedraza, 2011). As expressed by Marshall (1938, p. 566): “It matters nothing to the seller of bricks whether they are to be used in building a palace or a sewer: but it matters a great deal to the seller of labor, who undertakes to perform a task of a determined difficulty, whether or not the place in which it is to be done is a wholesome and a pleasant one, and whether or not his associates will be such as he cares to have.”

Nevertheless, much has been said in recent years about job insecurity, giving place to the concept of the working poor. As reported by Gundogan, Bicerli and Aydin (2005, p.7),


“Approximately 49.7% of the workers in the world (and a little bit more than 58.7% of the workers in developing countries) are not earning enough for them and their families to remain above the poverty line of two dollars per day, and 19.7% of the people who are employed worldwide (and approximately 23.3% of those in developing countries) are living with less than one dollar per day.”


In this context, what was said by Atkinson (1998) about work guaranteeing social inclusion, depending on the quality of the employment offered, deserves special attention.


The above situation indicates that a large number of companies have disregarded their sustainable policies in relation to the well-being of their employees and by offering bad quality jobs they are contributing to the employees’ social exclusion. It is in this way that the relation between the inclusion of employees in society and the practices of corporate sustainability arise. As it is expressed in ISO 26000:33, “work practices have an important impact with respect to rule of law and in the current sense of justice in the society; socially responsible work practices are essential for social justice, peace and stability.” For this reason, the proposal that represents a more coherent approach to said problem comes from the management field, as there is a growing emphasis on the concept of responsible organization, where topics such as ethics, values, equity, and respect for the differences between people should permeate the decision making system of the employers with the aim of fostering tolerant and, at the same time, more productive environments. Logic suggests, then, the integration of principles of sustainability with human resource management (Ehnert, Harry & Zink, 2014).





Appealing to human resource management practices which focus on the consolidation of organizations that aim towards the legitimate application of policies of social responsibility and sustainability has become a fundamental aspect in the way of doing business nowadays and, at the same time, has become a reference point of the managerial literature of the last few years (Bourdeau & Ramstad, 2005; Tarique & Schuler, 2012; Lis, 2012). In fact, the evidence obtained through both studies show that said practices are aligned with better corporate performance and represent challenges that management will face in the future (Stone & Deadrick, 2015) to achieve a prosperous situation.


By way of example, a new concept arises: sustainable performance. This consists of   the application of 4 mechanisms that allow for said prosperity: 1) promoting empowerment for decision making; 2) sharing key information; 3) minimizing organizational incivility; and 4) offering feedback on performance. In an attempt to clarify that it is through people that outstanding results in the field of sustainability are obtained  (especially when it comes to environmental impact), it is also of supreme importance the task of compiling the visions and contributions made by Renwick, Redman and Maguire (2013), which is called the “green” management of human resources, alluding to the usual practices in the management of people which should be part of the day-to-day of managers and executives, in the search for what they called an integration between human resources management and environmental management.


At the same time, through Jones’ (2010) research, an enormous contribution can be found to the validation of the phenomenon of social exchange and volunteering programs. In addition to the complete account of the contributions that other authors have made to this topic, it is possible to corroborate the effectiveness of these type of practices based on aspects like the loyalty of employees towards their employers, due to a great extent, to the pride they take in being part of these organizations. Variables such as the retention of staff, work environment, and sensitivity to employees’ feelings regarding compensation were also an object to this study; all of the organizations analyzed had a positive response to socially responsible practices.


On the other hand, through the most recent conclusions of Jones, Willnes and Madey (2011), it was possible to find a direct correlation between the levels of efficiency of the functions inherent to the incorporation of staff in organizations and the perception that the public has about them, in terms of what the authors defined as responsible social performance6; that is to say, that it was possible to corroborate direct and significant sensitivity between the results of the staff recruitment processes in this type of organization as a consequence of the positive perceptions of the candidates towards them, in terms of practices of social responsibility and sustainability. In the end, they influence the motivation of the candidates, not only to belong to said organizations, but also to generate a real, long-term commitment to them through their work.


From a practical perspective, there is also evidence of some policies, practices, and decisions that have a positive influence on the results related to the managerial system of human resources in organizations that work within a sustainable framework. There are examples of companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s as an example of social innovation; Timberland LLC by using their reputation as a direct support to their brand; Marks and Spencer with the sustainable management of their supply chain; and Florida Ice & Farm as a Latin American example through the success of their “neutral water” program. All of them, mentioned in the literature of Page & Katz (2012), Blaisdell (2012), Brokaw (2012) & Ickis, Prado & García-Rada (2012) respectively, serve to illustrate the point. All of them have important elements in common that validate the basic postulates of sustainability: they refer to successful companies with strong reputations as brands and as companies in themselves that maintain a balance with their human resources managerial system.


These postulates constitute, without doubt, the refined evolution of what Ulrich (1997) once defined as the “key to success” of the executives who direct people to face the challenges of competitiveness that (at that time and nowadays) are to come. In other words, and appealing to the studies developed by the Ohio State University in 1957 and collected by Fiedler and Chemers (1985), a leader (for our study, a human resources manager) through their conduct is capable of leading a company to generate the results that their employees are capable of (competence) and want to generate (motivation).


In this way and taking into consideration the antecedents stated, the present study proposes as its objective to analyze the existing relationship between the work conditions of employees in Colombia and their social exclusion or inclusion, as part of the internal sustainability policies of employers.




An econometric analysis was applied to the information obtained through the Encuesta de Calidad de Vida (Life Quality Survey) 2003 and 2008 carried out by the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), through the Stata 11.1 software. Only the urban population is analyzed, taking into account the great differentiation that exists between the occupations in this area as opposed to the rural zone.


The Life Quality Survey carried out by the DANE quantifies and characterizes the living conditions of the Colombian population, analyzes variables related to housing conditions (materials of the walls, floors, and access to public services) and ownership of the same. Additionally, it enquires about the specific characteristics of the members of the household, such as education, health, childcare, work force, expenses and income, among others. In the specific case of the 2008 version, additional information about alimentary and nutritional security are included, as well as the possession and use of land in rural areas.


Until 2008, three surveys had been carried out, that is to say, one every five years, for the periods 1997, 2003, and 2008. Their application is the result of the field work done in 9 regions of the country, and thanks to the wealth of information obtained, it is possible to calculate indicators for factors like housing, health, education, recreation and culture, productivity and employment, life quality, and risk.


For the present study, firstly, the population was characterized according to economic activity, choosing those who had an occupation at the moment of the measurement, according to the definition of unemployment contextualized by the DANE.


Afterwards, the workers were classified according to the quality of their employment. To the end of evaluating this characteristic of occupations, from diverse factors that could generate advantages and disadvantages for the employees, an index was created based on the guide provided by Farné (2003). This author calculates the indicator of employment quality from the following criteria: i. Work income including salaries and payment in kind (100 points for incomes above or equal to the minimum current salary and 0 points for incomes below that amount). ii. Affiliation to social security (100 points if the employee is affiliated to a health and pension fund, 50 if they are affiliated to one of the two systems, and 0 points if the employee is not affiliated to either of the two systems). iii. Working hours (100 points if the employee works up to 48 hours per week and 0 if they work more than that). However, in contrast to Farné (2003), in this study, when creating the index of employment quality, values were not assigned to the three factors analyzed to the criteria of the researcher, what was used was a statistical technique of multiple correspondence analysis (MCA), which is a principal component analysis (PCA), but designed for binary variables7. This decision is made, given the usefulness of the MCA in making optimal scaling when the objective is to capture the maximum correlation between variables. Afterwards, a binary indicator of employment quality was obtained, calling those who have employments with the worst conditions 1, taking as a cut-off point the median of the indicator, taking advantage of the fact that the MCA gives normalized values.




Thirdly, the degree of social exclusion of the employed was calculated, through a multidimensional index, from the following equation:




This being a linear combination of the relevant deprivations accumulated by i, which in total are a number c, d(fix) is the deprivation of the person i, given the level of the functioning fx, and wx the contribution to the social exclusion of the respective deprivation that, in this case, were once again calculated by an MCA. In this case, the advantage of using factor weights is that they give greater relevance to the deprivations suffered by most of the individuals in the society.


Finally, the differences between the social exclusion of the workers with good and bad quality employment were statistically validated.




In Table 1, the results of urban employment quality for the years 2003 and 2008 in Colombia are shown, finding that about 65% are bad quality occupations.


Table 1. Low quality employment in Colombia





64.16 %

63.64 %


Source: elaborated by the authors based on ECV (2003) and EVC (2008)


The results show differences in the quality of the employment offered, where more than half of the occupations are of bad quality. This demonstrates that the policies of internal corporate social responsibility are being ignored by a large number of companies in Colombia or, if they have them, they are not being effective.


Now, it was intended to study the social exclusion of urban workers in Colombia, and in order to measure it a multidimensional indicator was built. It followed De Haan (1999), but was limited by the information of the surveys and it took into account the disadvantages caused by the deprivations shown in Table 28. Although it was intended to include some deprivation related to the political life of the individuals, this was not possible due to the absence of available information, especially for 2008.


Table 2. Relevant deprivations in Colombia






Housing infrastructure

- Type of housing

- Material of the walls

- Material of the floors

- Overcrowding

Housing location

- Imminent risk

- Dangerous site in the neighborhood

- Security in the neighborhood

Public services

- Availability of public services

- Type of bathroom

- Water supply

- Fuel used

Human Capital


- General health state

- Chronic disease


- Illiteracy

- Maximum level of education reached


Economic dependence

- Number of people per employed member of the household


- Accumulated goods in the household

- Consumption of 3 daily meals

Social capital

Social contacts

- No primary family ties in the household

- New to the municipality where they live

Household welfare

- Invalids in the household

- Difficult year for the household


Source: elaborated by the authors


Once the binary indicators were established for all the deprivations indicated, they were integrated in a multidimensional index built from an analysis of multiple correspondences. In addition, a binary variable of social exclusion is built according to the middle point of the interval in which said indicator in grouped. Table 3 shows the results obtained with the information for the years 2003 and 2008 concerning the social exclusion of the people who are employed in urban areas, according to the quality of their employment, showing that work insecurity is related to social exclusion.


Table 3. Social exclusion in Colombia, according to employment quality








Low quality employment

High quality employment

Low quality employment

High quality employment


57.39 %

30.67 %

56.36  %





The results obtained show that for the year 2003 as well as for the year 2008, the individuals who work in the jobs categorized as low quality have greater social exclusion levels than those who have better quality jobs (see Table 3)


The statistical significance of this difference was corroborated through a maximum likelihood estimation (See Table 4). This technique allows for the verification of social exclusion for individuals with the same characteristics, but in jobs of different quality. Once again, differences are found between the percentages of social exclusion according to the characteristics of the individuals that prevail over the differences due to the quality of the employment, and they are persistent from 2003 to 2008.


Table 4. Maximum likelihood estimation of the differences of exclusion among employed people - Control group: better quality employment





Average effect




Interval of trust –  repeated sampling


[0.0565195   0.094011]

[0.4231448    0.3270385]


Source: elaborated by the authors based on ECV (2003) and ECV (2008).



As a matter of fact, the quality of the jobs offered in Colombia does not appear to contribute to guaranteeing better conditions to the employees, proving Atkinson (1998, p. v) right in claiming that employment only guarantees social inclusion when it is of good quality.


These results would show that in Colombia the policies of internal business sustainability are inexistent or are not being effective, given that work insecurity is fostered with negative consequences on the social inclusion of workers.





On a side note to the existing debate between the adoption of technologies and the existence of inequity policies in the development of regions or countries, critically approached by Bogliacino (2014), an alternative stands out among many others to show that, well implemented, this scheme could represent a clear example of the sustainable practice of human resources and a promoter of social inclusion policies to the extent that work conditions improve for the individuals who are part of the Colombian market labor. We are referring to telework, as is affirmed by Contreras and Rozo (2015) in their reflective work.


The work that the Colombian State and corporations have been developing in the last years in the search to incorporate a philosophy of work closely related to the use of ICTs, with the aim of improving the indicators of productivity, unemployment and, as a consequence, that of work inclusion in the country, is unquestionable.


In fact, with the present work the link is made evident, thanks to prior conclusions on the direct relationship between the use of ICTs and the performance of companies in Colombia, where, for example, some studies like that of Botello, Pedraza and Contreras (2014), after obtaining results of direct correlation between productivity and the adoption of ICTs in organizations, also recommend the promotion of policies, public and corporate, oriented towards widening the coverage of the different information and communication technologies in the service sector in Colombia.


Actually, this topic is tackled from an official perspective, where the most tangible is definitely the emphasis put on the adoption of telework as an option of formal employment, which has been materialized by the national government through mechanisms that formalize and stimulate the mentioned practice: the Telework Law9 and its earlier regulatory decree10, the creation of the “Telework pact”, the relationship of different territorial bodies, companies, universities, and people, with the initiatives fostered by the ministries11, to create a new decent critical mass which receives the message correctly and promotes its implementation. These are interesting initiatives which have resulted in an interesting normative, but without a clear sense of its reach or implications, which raises some worrying questions related to its measurement, supervision, and control.


In any case, and independently that the measurement of the positive or negative impact of this work practice is incipient and difficult, it is possible to affirm, without fear of being wrong, that the intention is praiseworthy and that with the right approach, it is possible that this effectively represents a direct contribution to Colombia in terms of the perception of social inclusion of the workers. This means that the field of action could be environmental, social, and economic-productive (sustainability).





Corporate sustainability, seen as a set of actions that aim to have positive repercussions on the society, includes offering good quality employment. This internal corporate sustainability will then include policies related to equitable salary structures, but also those related to non-monetary conditions of occupations. Taking into account that the work context is a fundamental part of the spaces of inclusion in the society, the consequences of internal sustainability will be reflected on the well-being of the population.


The results for Colombia show that internal sustainability policies in organizations are inexistent or are not being totally effective, given that for the years 2003 and 2008 it is possible to find around 30% of people with bad quality jobs. The greatest level of social exclusion is found in the workers of low quality occupations, which implies a need for the revision of these policies. Companies should be conscious that by ignoring the responsibilities they have towards their employees, they are condemning a large number of them to being excluded from the society.


The situation presented allows for the speculation that a systematic revision of the sustainability policies of companies in developing countries like Colombia, constitutes a imperative necessity in the agenda of corporate and competitive development, particularly in relation to the type of employment that is being offered in the labor market. This conclusion is made taking into account that employment is, without doubt, a highly influential aspect in the life of an individual, given that most of a person’s life is dedicated to it and, it often constitutes the only source of income and of social integration.


Part of the discussion that should take place later and in other contexts and that may be derived from the current analysis is how affected business may be (that is, as regards financial results) as a result of neglecting their practices of internal sustainability. A priori, it is thought that the relation between the two variables should be positive and direct, that is, that as long as a company fosters the application of practices of internal sustainability, there will be a positive impact on the results of its business, and vice versa. However, it is necessary to validate this with a greater level of detail, which represents an interesting opportunity for future research in the context of exploratory studies, impact analysis, and case studies of a pedagogic and investigational type, which open a window for the analysis of and contribution to the administrative praxis.


A valid approximation to this last point could come from the management field where, as it was posed by Contreras, Vecino and Pedraza (2013), decision making in the interior of organizations should have a deliberate orientation towards building a sustainable future for the people who form it. This means that, through a set of traditional practices of management of their human resources, environmental and social variables should be considered with the aim of obtaining a better performance in their job. It is there where social inclusion is unquestionably an asset to the policy of management of organizations, and where the gaps in the existing research are perceived, given that the measurement of the impact of sustainability is still incipient in terms of the real long-term effect that is obtained thanks to the application of said practices.







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* The authors are members of the Finance & Management research group from the School of Industrial and Business Studies of the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Bucaramanga, Colombia).


** Industrial engineer and Master of Business Administration. Assistant professor in the School of Industrial and Business Studies of the Universidad Industrial de Santander. E-mail:


*** Industrial engineer and Doctor of Economic Science. Associate professor in the School of Industrial and Business Studies of the Universidad Industrial de Santander. E-mail:


**** Industrial engineer from the Universidad Industrial de Santander. E-mail:


1 The term comes from the English language. In Spanish can be referenced as sustentabilidad or sustentable, or both.


2 As an analytical notion, the term social exclusion seems to have been originally coined in France by Rene Lenoir in his 1974 book The Excluded: One Frenchman out of Ten (Les Exclus: Un français sur dix), to refer to several categories of people catalogued as social problems and who did not have the protection of social welfare. Nowadays, there are countless definitions for social exclusion but, in general, it is always portrayed as a state of discomfort and impairment. For Jordan (1996), for example, this concept is associated with the lack of the individual power of some people to access resources common to all citizens, which becomes a structural obstacle on a social level. Bhalla and Lapeyre (1999) define social exclusion as a process which means that individuals or groups, who reside geographically in a society, do not participate in the normal activities of the citizens of that society. Following Castel (1997), “they would be excluded those who do not take part in the regulated exchanges and so, for that reason, society does not recognize them as significant contributions to social order, in the framework of opposing or dissimilar interests.” Finally, as Sen (2000, p.9) puts it “the language of exclusion is so versatile and adaptable that there may be a temptation to dress up every deprivation as a case of social exclusion. There is, I fear, in the vast – and rapidly growing- literature on social exclusion, evidence that the language has run well ahead of the creative ideas involved.”  

3 This corresponds to a multidimensional definition of social exclusion which is the most accepted in recent times. This tendency is mainly fostered by organizations focused on the formulation of social policies, such as the European Commission (2000) and the International Institute for Labor Studies (ILO), and their main advocate, Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen. The other two perspectives if social exclusion that have been relevant in the study of this phenomenon are the Anglo Saxon and the French Republican, which have monocausal explanations of social exclusion, the first focused on poverty and the second on the breaking of social ties.

4 As Silver (1995) comments in his literature, exclu8ded individuals are mentioned in such dissimilar spaces as: “livelihood; secure, permanent employment; earnings; property; credit, or land; housing; minimal or prevailing consumption levels; education, skills, and cultural capital; the welfare state; citizenship and legal equality; democratic participation; public goods; the nation or the dominant race; family and sociability; humanity, respect, fulfillment and understanding.” For this reason, it is useful to establish which the elemental social dimensions are.  


5 In the words of the CAI and INAEM (2007, p. 113) “employment is the main form of social and personal integration.


7 As Asselinn and Anh (2008, p. 2) mention, the PCA “essentially consists of building a sequence of uncorrelated (orthogonal) and normalized linear combinations of input variables (K primary indicators), exhausting the whole variability of the set of input variables, named “total variance” and defined as the trace of their covariance matrix, thus the sum of the K variances. (…) The stepwise reduction process just described, computationally equivalent to eigenvalues and eigenvector identification, corresponds geometrically to a change in the Cartesian axis system (translation and rotation) of the k dimension Euclidean space Rk. Basically, the MCA is a PCA process that uses a metric chi squared χ^2 instead of the Euclidian.” (Asselin & Anh, 2008, p. 4).

8 The measurement of social exclusion for the population in general also includes the labor dimension. However, as in this case only the employed population is being analyzed, the unemployment indicator is not taken into consideration. Work insecurity is not included in the calculation of the multidimensional indicator either, because it is precisely the difference between the population due to this characteristic that is intended to be studied in greater detail afterwards.


9 Law 1221 of 2008

10 Decree 884 of 2012

11 Such as the Comisión Asesora de Teletrabajo (Assessment Commission of Telework), La Red Nacional de Fomento al Teletrabajo (National Network of Telework Fostering), the signing of international agreements to achieve cross-learning as regards the phenomenon and the edition of the Libro blanco abc del teletrabajo (the white abc of telework book), which is the body of useful knowledge “for facilitating telework pilot projects in businesses through a methodology adjusted for the Colombian context.