Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure.
I am José Carlos Gómez and currently I lead the whole area of social responsibility or sustainability in BAC Credomatic Guatemala.
Today I want to share with you what we have done, some information about how we have done it; the way in which we implement this issue of social responsibility.
We started with this exercise since 2008, approximately. Now, from 2008 to now, we have realized that we have learned many topics about it. Initially we learned that social responsibility was not philanthropy, it was not the way that companies were accustomed to signing checks and giving them to organizations, to communities, rather this was more a matter that had to do internally in the company; and this is intimately linked to the entire business line.
(Do we have something to be able to project? Yes, perfect. But it’s not the same…) Technical difficulties.
However, I’ll continue telling you this: For me, I like, whenever I have to give a talk on social responsibility, I start (thank you) talking a little bit about the word ‘responsibility,’ which we use very often but we rarely stop to think about its meaning.
Responsibility has to do with the way in which people or companies assume the impacts that their decisions and actions are causing. This is based on the responsibility I have as a person to pay my debts, to fulfill my obligations at work, to provide for my family; and it is also based on the responsible way in which the company has to address how to manage all the positive and negative impacts derived from their actions, their products, their services and everything they are doing.
Now, in these 10 years, what we have learned is that social responsibility, or rather, sustainability is intimately linked to social responsibility. Why? Because we understood that responsibility is the path to sustainability, which must be the goal. A company that wants to be sustainable in the long run must have actions that have to do with the responsibility of this same company.
When I talk about the sustainability of the bank, I do it in a very simple way: The bank is supported by the money of the people; if people do not have money, there is no bank.
So, what can we do? Ensure that our client portfolio has healthy finances, because a portfolio of clients with unhealthy finances is the ruin for any financial institution. Why? A person who has debts cannot save, a person who has debts cannot buy a house, cannot buy a car; an indebted entrepreneur cannot use the money to continue investing and thus be able to generate more employment.
So, social responsibility has to be only the way a company has to look for future sustainability.
We also understood that this is a "win, win" issue. What does this mean? The projects that have to do with the sustainability part of a company have to generate business for the same company. How is that? If the social responsibility projects that we have are only to disburse the money, that means that when the money is over, the project ends; so what we understood is that in the end, all the efforts we have to make must be linked to a "win-win" strategy, because otherwise, it will only last far as financial resources go
Now, what we started to develop was a program of awareness to all our collaborators and all our clients and all our suppliers, and society in general, to be able to come and say: "Well, what do people want from us?"
So this brings us to the next point, that we started to open a dialogue. Since 2007, when we began to develop this exercise, we began dialogues with all our parties of interest: Customers, suppliers, collaborators, societies, where we were operating.
What did we do? We would gather them and say: "Well, what do you expect from the bank? What would you like? What would you like us to do?"
It was not to sign checks and deliver the money to them, but it was more a matter of, "If we are going to work together, both collaborator with entrepreneur, or client with company, what do you all want?"
So, everything we started to find out and everything that came out of these small activities was that all our parties of interest were looking for three things or were asking three things of us. One of them was: "We want the bank to be responsible for the financial products that it is delivering". Then we said: "This is financial education."
The entrepreneurs said: "We want the bank to explain to us, to the micro-, small and medium-sized companies, how to use all the experience and all the channels they have for us to grow." Then we developed a business strengthening program.
And the third, and more important, people said: "We want the bank to be responsible for the impact on the environment." So, of everything that we started to develop, we said: "Well, this has to do with the three axes of sustainability that is happening".
Then we develop several activities, we aligned ourselves with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals; but within all that we have done (and perhaps until here I leave you with the context, that I wanted to tell you what we started doing and why it was that we started doing it), we started to develop financial education trainings. Why? BAC Credomatic is a company that operates from Guatemala to Panama.
Interesting fact, that all of you know, is that Central America is not indebted, it is over indebted. If banks are not 100% responsible (because as people we spend more than we earn), we do have part of the blame because it is for our products for which people get into debt.
So then, we said: "What can we do with that? Well, we can reach our affiliated companies, we can train all the collaborators; we teach them how to make a budget, how to start saving, how to get out of debt, how to use a responsible credit, how to use the credit card…" This was more a topic of awareness and of helping our collaborators, our suppliers, all our parties of interest with a subject in which we are experts, which are finances. Data that can stand out from that are: 712,000 people trained from 2009 to date.
In addition to this, we said: "We are not having so much progress with face-to-face training.” We then developed a virtual platform, which is www.aprendiendo.baccredomatic.com. Here we develop talks, trainings, videos, content, advice, for children, for youths, for adults, and for entrepreneurs. This is the effort we are making.
If you allow me, this year we commemorated or wanted to do something extra, something that went outside the traditional way that companies were doing this type of activity, and we went to the Ministry of Education. Why? We are bankers; we are not educators.
Now, if we want to take an on the topic of education, we have to do it with entities or organizations that are experts in this. So here we sat with the Minister and the Deputy Minister of Education, of the Ministry of Guatemala, to be able to show them, in order to develop contents, curricular meshes, using the experience that Costa Rica and Honduras had developed in 2007 and 2015.
This year we signed an alliance with the Ministry of Education of Guatemala to develop and implement a subject called Entrepreneurship for Productivity within the national base curriculum. This is financial education at the national level for all basic education.
Now, who will train, who will develop this? BAC Credomatic develops the content and gives the financial education component to the Ministry of Education so that it is the teachers who can develop it as they have been working thus far.
So this is the contribution as social responsibility that, as a company, we are providing the financial education of children and youths of our country.
In addition to this, we support small and medium-sized companies by providing training, advice; and interesting data: 70,000 strengthened companies are the ones we have reached and, within our value chain, 2,400 strengthened suppliers are the ones we have trained.
How do we train them? We invite them to breakfasts, activities, and develop content, such as financial excellence (talking about the company's accounting), internal control model for SMEs (which is an audit topic), human resources, marketing, sustainable purchases. So then, all the experience that we have as a corporation we try to transfer to all the small and medium companies.
In the environmental management part, which is also something that we have been developing, at the regional level, we have 26 buildings certified with the ISO 14001 standard, 18 in Costa Rica and the rest in Panama.
Guatemala this coming year will certify 3 of its buildings; and today we already have in one of our buildings, which has a water treatment plant, with an internal recycling system, with constant training for all our staff.
And additional to that, we have an internal program (this is carried out by the Credit area) called SARAS. SARAS is an Environmental and Social Risk Analysis System. If, as a financial company, our environmental impact is not as strong, what other companies do with the money we are giving them has to do with how we can manage this content.
So, what do we do? We started to investigate what the companies are going to do with the money we are going to give them, and we accompany them so that they can use it in the most responsible way and that this will not have social or environmental risks. It is what we have developed.
If you allow me, and I can steal a few more minutes, I want to tell you something: All this that I am telling you, gentlemen, we have not paid a single dollar to any other company, this we have developed with our collaborators, where they provide their working hours for the benefit of society; 389,000 hours of professional volunteering, contributing from 42% of our collaborators' list.
This is something that, additional to this, what it does is that it links the collaborator with the company. Why? Because then I'm not only hired to develop my work, but additionally, the knowledge that I have I can use to contribute to society.
This is in addition to corporate volunteering: The planting of trees, the construction of houses, the paintings of schools, visits to orphanages, asylums, and all the corporate volunteering that we have.
In addition to this, something that we also started to develop was, we started and opened the door and we became an inclusive company. The inclusive company that we said we would be was: "We are not going to discriminate against anyone; based on their religion, their race, their skin color, their sexual preference.” We did not discriminate against anyone and then we started hiring people who had some type of physical disability. Then we have blind people; we have among our collaborators people who have some kind of hearing disability, wheelchair users, developing their work.
The interesting thing about this was the alliances that we were able to obtain. In these 10 years, we understood that the best way to achieve the objectives is through alliances, and that is how we have developed it: We have today 379 collaborators working for our company that have some kind of disability; and this is very interesting to be able to see it.
Finally, we said: "Let's expand a little more what we are developing and give the opportunity to non-governmental organizations that we are not supporting today.” We then created a platform called Yo Me Uno [I JOIN IN].
Yo Me Uno seeks to put into contact non-governmental organizations that are doing many good things and do so with little resources, and, on the other side, we link our partner companies, which in the end do have resources but usually do not know how to do it, because they are entrepreneurs.
So here we can have like this two say street; it is a virtual platform. We enabled it and launched it in a big way with the natural catastrophe we had, with the Volcán de Fuego [Fire Volcano] in Guatemala; the data collected in a month was approximately $285,000, which we managed to collect, and which is being managed by CentraRSE in Guatemala and UNICEF Guatemala.
We have an alliance with UNICEF of 5 years, which started last year, for the support of early childhood. This is something that we are doing and that we are developing.
To close, like my previous partner, I would like to leave you with a video (I hope that the technology doesn’t fail on me).
Technical difficulties. I think we will not be able to listen to the video.
So, to close with this, we have a commitment, and it is a commitment to be able to ensure the welfare of all our parties of interest: Collaborators, customers, suppliers, communities, and societies where we are operating; and the most interesting part of this is that this part of sustainability is intimately linked to the business strategy.
Social responsibility for companies has to be 100% within the entire business strategy. In the end, today we are in the era of responsible business.