In Conversation with María Erquiaga Mendoza, BBVA

  1. Please describe your role and responsibilities. How many years have you been in the company?

I am Community Investment Manager at BBVA, a role I perform within the Sustainability Global Team. I am based in Madrid (Spain). I have been working at BBVA since 2010, having specialized myself on the “S” of ESG, that is, community investment. Among the most outstanding projects in which I participated, and have contributed directly to is the elaboration of the BBVA Community Commitment 2021-2025. It is a multiannual plan aligned to Social Development Goals (4, 8, 9, 10,11) to promote inclusive growth in 7 geographies where BBVA is present. My responsibilities today deal with ensuring the deployment of this plan globally: framework alignment, KPI consecution, impact measurement, governance model, reporting and communication.

I also manage local and international programs linked to core activities in diverse fields: education, entrepreneurship and emergency response. As an example in the field of education Connected Education is a program aimed at reducing the digital gap in education and contributing to the transformation of this sector in Spain that has reached 77.000 people since 2020. As for entrepreneurship, BBVA Momentum is a best practice that since its launch in 2011, has benefited over 600 entrepreneurs from 6 geographies, scaling up their business with social and/or environmental impact. We have had to deal with several emergency situations in the past years. The most recent one has to do with Ukraine and I am also involved in the working group in charge of developing these initiatives. 

  1. What was your background previously and where did your interest in social impact begin?

I discovered this area of expertise, Corporate Social Responsibility,  while I was studying my Master degree in Business Administration at the IE Business School  in 2005. Until that moment, I was not aware that companies were interested in specialists in this area. I had always been very interested in the social and environmental aspects but knowing certain companies had these business areas gave me the possibility to connect my personal interest with the business.  I was very lucky to have access to my first job in community investment through this educational experience.

  1. How has your social impact programme evolved at your company? What role did B4SI play in its evolution and development?

BBVA follows the widely recognized standard Business for Societal Impact (formerly London Benchmarking Group) to measure its contribution to society since 2007. This methodology provides quantitative indicators that aggregate scores and benchmark across those metrics participating companies. In fact, the 2025 Community Commitment key performance indicators (€550 million and 100 million people) have been elaborated following this international standard, which is recognized by the world reference index in terms of sustainability, the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI). In this index, BBVA holds the first position in its category.

As mentioned above, BBVA has used the B4SI framework to measure its contribution to society since 2007. It has helped us answer the following questions:

  1. What initiatives does the BBVA Group develop in line with the standard? Where does the BBVA Group’s contribution to society go? By identifying and defining the contribution that BBVA makes to society, beyond the business. In the case of BBVA, we analyze the initiatives within the BBVA Group scope, since the contribution can come from any area, foundation or local bank.
  2. What is the contribution of the BBVA Group to society? How does the BBVA Group contribute to society? Why does the BBVA Group contribute to society? What does the BBVA Group contribute to? By measuring the contribution to society done by BBVA in it´s different ways (money, time, kind and management costs), by motivation and by areas of ​​action. Find 2021 figures here.
  3. What business and / or social and/or environmental impact does this contribution have? By evaluating the return obtained from the contributions. The achievements (investment and people benefitted KPIs) and the impacts for the community (how it improves people’s lives) and for BBVA (external and internal reputation).
  1. What are the challenges you encounter in driving your social impact agenda and how do you stay inspired?

BBVA is focused on measuring the social and environmental impact of its initiatives. During the 2021-2025 one of the goals is to implement and scale up the necessary tools for this measurement. Identify what initiatives should be measured, decide on the tools, extend them and make an efficient use for its implementation across BBVA´s footprint… The B4SI framework facilitates tools and guidance. The context is shaping very quickly and requires a rapid and accurate response. The European Union is developing a social taxonomy, which implies the creation of new frameworks, new tools, etc, start-ups are defining and developing new social impact models etc. Ideally, we should work together in order to establish a broad and unique framework for a better understanding and comparison.

Due to the digitisation of initiatives, the people reached through initiatives has also been affected. This is a key performance indicator that requires teamwork among the different users of the framework in order to agree on how and what to consider.

Participating in specialized groups with other practitioners is very useful in order to move forward in the use of the methodology. An example of this is Business for Societal Impact in the UK.

  1. Please give an example of how the B4SI Framework (or its tools and additional services) has helped you in your role, and your company.

As mentioned above, the B4SI framework has been a key element for the construction of the quantitative key performance indicators of BBVA’s Community Commitment 2025, the first in the history of the bank.

     6. Please tell us about:

How you have supported the community during Covid-19 to the present day.

Faced with an unprecedented global crisis, with immediate effects in the field of health and social wellbeing, BBVA implemented a Social Response Plan in March 2020 to alleviate the most serious consequences of COVID-19: overrun health services, shortage of medical supplies, worsening of the vulnerability of large segments of the population, among others. Through this Plan, which benefited 3.5 million people in 2020, BBVA donated €35.7m for three lines of SDG-linked action:

  1. Providing support to public health services to prevent their collapse and contributing to ensure the healthcare of individuals affected by purchasing medical equipment and supplies, to which 80% of the committed amount was allocated. This line of action has a direct impact into the SDG 3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. In 2020, 839,773 people benefited from the medical supplies donated to hospitals.
  2. Providing support to vulnerable groups through contributions to social organizations aimed to cover the needs of those most affected by the pandemic: food, basic necessities, psychosocial support and assistance, and training. Of the committed amount, 11% was allocated to collaborations with 472 non-profit entities, whose work has benefited 2.6 million people. This line of action has a direct impact into the SDG 10 “Reduced inequalities”.
  3. Support for the research on COVID-19 and its consequences, to which 8% of the committed amount was allocated. This line of action has a direct impact into the SDG 9 “Promote the Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”. In this line, it is remarkable the support to 20 scientific research projects by the BBVA Foundation which benefited 226 people directly, but not including the indirect impact of their research.

 

How your community and company have supported the war in Ukraine.

Since February 25th and to date, BBVA has been in contact with the main social organizations based in Spain with a presence in the conflict zone through the Responsible Business team, to which I belong.

A multi disciplinary working group was created at BBVA to monitor the situation and decide what solidarity actions BBVA should implement: Responsible Business, Talent & Culture, Real Estate, Internal and External Communication, Non- financial risk, Compliance, Legal & Finance, BBVA Foundation. Here are the main initiatives developed up to date:

  • BBVA has donated 1 million euro to UNICEF and UNHCR, to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Ukraine. One day after the United Nations call to fund allocation aid for vital assistance to the affected population.
  • BBVA promoted a donation campaign amongst its employees, customers and non-customers in Spain that has raised 2 million € for UNICEF, UNHCR, the Red Cross and Doctors of the World.
  • BBVA backed a declaration signed by over 50 companies from around the world to support refugees. The initiative is part of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a global non-profit organization to which BBVA belongs.
  • BBVA has offered 200 homes to the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations in Spain, in order to house 800 refugees.
  • Welcome guide for refugees in Spain in order to help familias host refugees (integration and guidance).
  • Provide practical and basic training in financial education and cybersecurity through non for profit organizations. BBVA´s role is to facilitate contents and material as well as volunteers for cyber security training.

BBVA is studying other measures to support Ukrainian refugees to meet their needs, both immediate and those that may arise in the medium or long term ( employability and/or living).

  1. What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?

The launch of the 2021-2025 Community Commitment on October 18th 2021. The first commitment ever from the bank, having been approved by the different stakeholders. My biggest accomplishment without doubt and up to date.

  1. What is your motto in life?

Enjoy everyday and remember that smile spreads

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