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Why CSR and sustainability?

CSR, corporate conscience, sustainability…to start with, there is already some confusion about the name of the term. But explaining why should be simpler. Why take into account the environmental, social and good governance (ESG) factors? To earn money. To earn money doing it BETTER and also to earn money in the long term. And how does doing CSR better help to earn money? Here are some ideas:

  • Because analysing the effects that the environment, society and good governance have on our business helps us to identify MORE risks and to detect MORE opportunities than mere financial aspects.
  • Because assessing and internalising the effects our business has on the environment and society helps us to maintain better relations with the environment in which we undertake our activity, the resources that we need and the prospects we face. Or is it that it is easy to run a business in a failed society? Or with a scarcity or volatility of supply of raw materials? Or in an environment in which corruption is the modus operandi?

For this, and many more reasons, most businesses aiming for success in the markets in the medium- and long-term have decidedly incorporated sustainability into their agenda and the function into their organisation chart. It is what we call "dirse" in Spanish jargon, or the social responsibility manager.

And what does a "dirse" do? Well, it has, or it should have, a transverse function. These are other features that it should ideally have:

  • It should act as an "observatory". Be familiar with the social and environmental trends, the challenges faced by the society in which the company operates: identify which are relevant for the business.
  • It should also be a "translator". That is, translate those challenges to the company's internal agenda. Translate “climate change” as the “risk analysis of our portfolio to gain an understanding of the stances we take in carbon-intensive companies”. Or "diversity" as "how can we attract younger people to work with us?". Or "ethical behaviour" as "how can we improve whistle-blowing so the code of conduct becomes a reality?"
  • It should also be a good “quarterback”[1]. Repartir juego y dejar que sean los otros los que marquen el gol. Namely, they must be motivating in the mainstreaming of their function, and be able to identify "the connection points". And be aware that the leadership of initiatives that are implemented is down to the person responsible for the initiative in question. In the case of risks, the risk manager; for human resources, the human resources manager, and so on.

When it comes to defining the Cecabank CSR policy, we have tried to undertake these functions and we have achieved significant progress in these first two years since the approval of our policy. The most important thing for us was not to forget that Cecabank is a wholesale company that provides to professional services to other companies. So the fundamental contact person, the customer, is different to that of banks that have a retail approach. For this reason, and because we undertake our operations fundamentally in Spain, the geographical scope of our policy was also driven by this aspect. The diversity of our business lines and their specialisation demanded, more than in other cases, the necessary mainstreaming and implication of all departments: something that we have achieved thanks to the Cecabank CSR and Sustainability Committee.

The sustainability and contribution of companies thereto is a thrilling challenge. And one which never ends.

[1] This "dirse" expression is borrowed from Calvo.

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