Avoiding improvisation is the key to developing an effective and long-term environmental policy, which is why some of the main Spanish companies have been working for more than a decade to improve their footprint on the planet. But in recent years, sustainability and governance criteria have gained ground in the face of the climate emergency and the need to promote diversity and knowledge in companies.
The environmental cause is now the epicenter of many of the decisions that the business world makes. Miguel Ángel López, CEO of Siemens Spain, defends it, and describes that a concern has been raised in all areas to be sustainable “not only with the environment, but also with society”. At Siemens they reached this conclusion in their study Keys and strategic investments for a Spain 5.0 and shared it with the participants in the debate organized last week by EL PAÍS and the German multinational itself. In this event, everyone had the same reflection: people are the main asset of companies.
“We are experiencing an unstoppable movement, a paradigm shift. We have stopped having a single view of the companies to the shareholders and we have gone on to have a plural, where corporations operate for ownership, but also for a purpose”, assured Marieta del Rivero, director of Cellnex and Gestamp. It is the uncertainty that puts risks and opportunities on the table, and it itself, in those organizations where it is present, enlivens the continuous dialogue with the interested parties.
“The definition of new capitalism made by the Davos Economic Forum is interesting,” explains Del Rivero. In June 2020, the creator of this event, Klaus Schwab, recognized that the changes caused by the pandemic restored the economic and social foundations, but that all countries and all their productive sectors should be involved.
It is a project that has been years in the making. “We have already passed the voluntary period, which was before 2018, when the law was approved that requires non-financial reporting at the same level as financial,” says Del Rivero. The also non-executive president of Onivia assures that in Spain the companies already stood out for doing things well in terms of corporate social responsibility “without it being a matter of compliance”, that is, regulatory compliance. For example, Gestamp Vigo, in 2003, already had an environmental management system “for optimization and continuous improvement in relations with customers, workers and the natural environment”.
It is a journey to address in the short, medium and long term. For this reason, Michelin has the motto of embracing sustainability with a strategy that follows the line of “people, environment” and that lands it with another aspect: “Results”. María Paz Robina, president of Spain and Portugal of the tire giant, is blunt: “Everything that we do not start is no longer done. The difference between some companies and others is that some have started to walk”.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
Michelin’s axes are respect for biodiversity, the reduction of the consumption of raw materials and the fight against climate change. Its guide is to transform industrial plants, reduce the energy consumption used to manufacture its products or use renewable materials. “We are working for mobility with hydrogen because we want different sustainable ways”, exposes Robina about one of her projects. In 2019, the company joined forces with Faurecia to found Symbio and produce hydrogen fuel cells that allow vehicles to move without expelling a gram of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
At Cellnex, where Del Rivero is part of the management body, they also believe that in order to bring these ideas to fruition, it is necessary to respond with detailed and long-term plans. For this reason, they have presented a second environmental plan, whose bastion is that in 2025 100% of the energy consumed by the company is from renewable sources. In addition to environmental criteria, the telecommunications tower management company also has governance goals, such as achieving that by that date 30% of the management committee is made up of women. At the moment, more than 40% of workers have been hired, according to the company’s annual report; a further step towards gender equality, which has progressed in recent years.
Diversity will also be generational. Specifically, Cellnex aspires to hire 30% of young people. The CEO of Siemens Spain assures that this segment of the population is already working to “achieve the next level of the challenges that are expected”. For this reason, they have international programs such as the Innovation Think Tank (ITT), which seeks to implement the development of future professionals through education.
Technology is a link in the process of being more sustainable. Internet access is the trend in Spain and 96% of households already have broadband. For Marieta del Rivero, “digitization is an ally and must accompany society”, at least if you want to reach “a 21st century industry”. Along these lines, the implementation of 5G is a boost to efficiency: “It will make it more possible to use cloud [la nube] and less in terminals”, adds this directive.
This growth has reached the industrial sector and has forced it to renew itself. With the aim of digitizing the value chain, Siemens has created an educational program at the Naval Sector Center of Excellence (CESENA) to promote the digitization of this industry. “For shipyards to automate and deploy their technology,” adds López.
The CESENA project is part of European funds. Robina believes that this springboard of community money can be very useful, but she claims that the process to access these aids is easier and more obvious. “For the vast majority [de empresas] it is difficult to enter the call. It will help the country in specific cases, but it is not a panacea; it is located in few companies”, concluded the president for Spain and Portugal of Michelin.