15 years of Esade Alumni Social
Javier Dueñas (EDIEF 86 / EDIK 88), Vice President of Forética
Since its founding more than 20 years ago, Forética has consolidated its position as the leading business organisation in the field of sustainability in Spain. The organisation has a strong presence in Latin America through collaborative projects in various countries and solid alliances through important partners such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). In Europe, Forética is a national partner of CSR Europe and forms part of the Spanish State Council on CSR. We spoke with Javier Dueñas, Vice President of Forética, about the importance of CSR aspects in business strategy.
What are Forética’s objectives?
Our mission is to integrate and develop environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects in the strategy and management of companies and organisations. These three areas of focus allow us to approach corporate sustainability with a 360º vision, always analysing the main international trends and their impact on the reality of Spain. Forética also created something called the ESG 21 Standard, the first ethical and socially responsible management system. To date, more than 150 companies and organisations have been certified with the standard in Spain and Latin America.
With a partner network made up of more than 250 organisations, what lines of work are you developing? What trends are you expecting to see in the coming years?
Forética is made up of more than 250 members that represent a large part of the business community in various sectors. Specifically, our members include 40% of the IBEX 35 companies, as well as subsidiaries of multinationals operating in Spain, small and medium-sized companies, and NGOs.
Through the various projects undertaken in clusters and action groups, we have developed a business platform that promotes knowledge, dialogue among companies and public-private collaboration. We are one of the benchmark organisations in terms of engaging in dialogue on business sustainability with key public administrations and government agencies. These spaces for dialogue allow companies to promote the integration of ESG aspects, share best practices and forge partnerships at both the national and international levels in order to develop sustainability.
Within your vision of maximising the positive contribution of companies to achieve a sustainable future, what are the keys ways in which companies can integrate sustainability into their corporate strategies? As a management practice, is corporate sustainability really here to stay?
Without a doubt, corporate sustainability is here to stay. At Forética, we work in various areas, from the competencies of boards of directors – supporting and promoting their work in the areas of the sustainability and social responsibility – to providing services to transversal areas such as investor relations, risk, compliance, etc.
We do this by working on three key lines of action with our more than 250 partners. The first line of action is the development of key environmental policies and levers, addressing climate change, the circular economy, urban sustainability and biodiversity. The second line of action is the development of social impact in business strategy, as well as specific health and sustainability programmes, the analysis of future-of-work trends, and the development of international projects such as Upskill4Future, in alliance with J.P. Morgan and CSR Europe. Finally, the third line of action is new ESG governance. In this area, we are focused on good corporate governance, transparency and integrity, working on sustainable finance and the development of sustainable boards. We also have a Sustainability Action Group, which is focused exclusively on public companies and addresses the various types of organisations in this category.
As we look towards how to build the future after COVID-19, what do you think are the scenarios and disruptions that companies will be facing?
In this context of global crisis, at Forética, we are focused on contributing to a greater understanding of the context and consequences of COVID-19. This is our starting point for supporting the construction and reformulation of new sustainability strategies in companies – strategies that accelerate recovery from the crisis, anticipate risks, and reveal great opportunities for business leadership and action aligned with sustainable development in our highly uncertain future.
Specifically, Forética is leading a business alliance called “The Future of Sustainability: Resilience and the ‘New Normal’ for Companies After COVID-19”, which brings together more than 60 large multi-sector companies. This alliance analyses new scenarios, trends and vulnerabilities, and works to develop ESG tools and solutions aimed at addressing the “new normal” of business from the board of directors, the senior management and the strategic areas of companies.
After COVID-19, we will be facing a new business landscape and developing a new economy. This will entail profound changes in all sectors and areas, with sustainability as one of the pillars of the business agenda. In this alliance, we are addressing the macro trends and disruptions identified in the international arena – in partnership with the WBCSD – and specifying how they will impact the reality of the Spanish business community. Specifically, we are working with our partners on solutions driven by an ESG-based sustainable business recovery.
In addition, we have presented an analysis titled “Macrotrends and Disruptions: Impact on the Spanish Business Reality”, in collaboration with WBCSD. Based on 12 major trends and 10 disruptions that will shape the 2020s globally, this analysis focuses on Spain and identifies five main trends: the double-edged demographic sword; climate vulnerability; the economic peculiarity of Spain; full Spain, empty Spain; and a more divided society.
What does a responsible leader look like to you?
TWe all assume some degree of responsibility in the role of building the society we want to live in. In some way, we all know that this model of society is based on our ability to promote the common good. A responsible leader has to be able to instil the ethical ideals we strive for together and transform that new model of society into a reality. In these times of transformation, filled with uncertainties, responsible leaders have to be able to transmit certainty and security to the organisation and to society at large. Responsible leaders have to know how to deploy their commitment to act in a responsible, ethical, transparent and upright manner.
How did you get involved in this project? What do you get out of it as a professional?
Forética has always been a benchmark in the world of business ethics and sustainability. However, the real reason why I joined this project is because of the people who work in the organisation, who deserve my full recognition for their human qualities and excellent technical training.
Forética has contributed to the development of those ethical ideals I just referred to and has helped me transfer an ethical and socially committed management model into my work.
What does Esade Alumni mean to you? What do you get out of being an active member of the Esade Alumni Social consultant community?
Esade Alumni stands for many things in my life. I associate it with a time in my life that gave me the opportunity to meet people of great human quality: unforgettable classmates and professors with whom I had the good fortune of sharing my studies. Despite the many years that have passed, we still keep in touch through the many activities organised by the association.
The Esade Alumni Social consultant community is a life experience that can only be understood by those who have had the opportunity to enjoy it. It is an intense experience of emotions and learning, an experience that gives me transcendent energy and connects with the values that Esade passed on to me. A unique and unforgettable experience!