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SDG 9 & 11 and Telefonica

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“Essentially, understanding a company’s corporate culture is key to understanding its behaviour in relation to its sustainability. Basically the more transparent you are, the more trusted you will be. And it’s clear that the more sustainable you are, the more you will reduce your risk exposure in the market.” – Alberto Andreu, Head of CSR & Reputation for Telefónica

EMG recently caught up with Alberto Andreu, Head of CSR & Reputation for Telefónica, to find out more about his company’s journey…

Telefónica was recently ranked by Newsweek as one of the top 15 green companies in the world, with an excellent rating on transparency. What are the key milestones or pillars that a company has to have in place to be able to excel?

One of the key things to remember about Telefónica is that we began this sustainable journey some 12 years ago. This means we have been thinking, working and taking leadership on these issues for a much longer time than many other players in the market.

What we did at the outset was to identify where the risks which would affect our sustainability and reputation were in the company. This was a very important thing to do. We spent almost a year on this, creating a ‘risk map’ for the entire company: looking at strategy risk, marketing risk, operational risk, human resource risk and others.

In doing this, we realized that those risks that related to corporate reputation and corporate sustainability seemed to fall between a number of different departments. No single department was taking ownership for this risk; and when risk has no owner, you have a problem. This was a key discovery for us in turning around our thinking on sustainability.

The second milestone was defining the company’s sustainability goals, and developing a global plan to communicate these internally. We defined our core pillars of sustainability in a report which became an important communication tool to show the comprehensive internal policy, internal procedure and internal auditing of our CSR activity. This was key to help us gain our reputation on transparency.

The third milestone came in 2006 when the Board of Directors created a committee, run by independent board members, to track and follow everything within the company relating to reputation and corporate sustainability. The fourth milestone was stakeholder engagement. We worked very closely with the CSR committee representatives so that we could continue to understand all the requirements of sustainability in order to further the improvement of our ongoing CSR reporting and policy development.

The fifth milestone came with the international recognition we received for our CSR activity. While we are a Spanish company, we are well aware that we are also a global company with locations across Europe and Latin America. Projects such as The Carbon Disclosure Project and our involvement with the UN Global Compact have been instrumental in our achieving these results.

Finally, in my mind the sixth most significant milestone for Telefónica has been what we are doing in relation to social innovation in business. We started our journey by identifying risk, but now we are trying to create social ecosystems to help the business create more partnerships.

Essentially, understanding a company’s corporate social culture is key to understanding its behaviour in relation to its sustainability. Basically the more transparent you are, the more trusted you will be. And it’s clear that the more sustainable you are, the more you will reduce your risk exposure in the market.

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