The planet enters the agenda of managers | Fortune

Just as world political leaders discussed in Glasglow about the climate challenges for the coming years at the Climate Summit, some of the main business leaders did so this Friday at the Global Alumni Reunion from IESE, in its new campus in Madrid. The 2021 edition, dedicated to the urgent need for companies to be involved in the transition to a more sustainable world, has broken attendance records, with more than 5,000 executives and registered entrepreneurs.

Sustainability being the driving force of the meeting, the leading role of the textile industry, which accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, more than international flights and shipping combined, according to UN data. For this reason, offsetting this negative impact has become one of the industry’s most urgent priorities, equated with digitization, according to the Inditex president, Pablo Isla. “It is a vision that is not only driven by the management of the company, but also demanded by our workers”, he acknowledged.

The businessman, considered the second most reputed leader in Spain (only behind Juan Roig, from Mercadona) in the latest Merco study, assured that the company “has taken very seriously moving forward to be a very sustainable company” and is striding forward in that direction. “We are a flagship company and we are going in the right direction, it is what we are trying to do, but we alone cannot change the world. Us we want to play a key role in the field of sustainabilityBut it is something that companies, institutions and NGOs also have to do, therefore it is a global initiative ”, warned Isla.

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In fact, not even the pandemic has been a brake on Inditex, the best reputed company in Spain according to the aforementioned report, from achieving the environmental objectives set for 2020. “It was a very difficult year, but, without a doubt, it had many positive elements, since it accelerated many trends ”, acknowledged the president of the textile giant. One of the main objectives achieved, for example, is achieve that more than 35% of all garments in the group meet the standard Join Life, a percentage that they plan to increase to 50% by 2022. This label promotes the use of the most sustainable raw materials (such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and TencelTM Lyocell) while prioritizing those processes that are more efficient in the use of water and energy.

Sustainability is not a vision that is only driven by the management of the company, but is demanded by our workers

Other milestones of 2020 have been the total elimination of plastic bags in its entire chain, training 100% of its designers in circularity or increasing the use of sustainable cotton to more than 73,000 tons, which means 91% more than in the previous exercise. In addition, among the goals that Inditex has set for the future, it is worth highlighting that 100% of the energy is renewable in its facilities by 2022, the reduction of 25% of the impact of water in the supply chain by 2025 or the use of linen. and 100% recycled polyester for the same year. “The speed of execution is one of the main characteristics of Inditex”, said Isla, who promised to play “a key role” and set an example in terms of sustainability in the textile sector.

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José María Álvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica.



José María Álvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica.

But neither is this the only sector that needs to put the batteries in environmental matters, nor was Isla the only manager who captured the public’s attention. The president and CEO of Telefónica, Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, also took advantage of the IESE alumni assembly to influence the importance of digitization to drive much-needed business sustainability. “We have to realize that they are really linked, and sadly, we have a very good example, recently, with the pandemic. They are no longer two separate lives. In our business plans, the measures that were supposed to happen within five years have now passed, “he said.

However, the businessman (fifth on the list of most reputable leaders) regretted the scarce education offered in Spain in terms of technological skills necessary to develop this digital future. Thus, it valued initiatives such as those of the Telefónica Foundation in the hands of the School 42, a free programming campus, without professors or age limit. “We opened the first campus in Madrid with an offer of 300 places and received 18,000 applications,” he recalled. Now, School 42 has also landed in Urduliz (Bizkaia) and Barcelona, ​​and will do so soon in Malaga and Alicante.

On the other hand, the president of Telefónica gave more details about the new innovation hub located in the Telefónica district, whose 5G space was inaugurated this Friday. The manager pointed out that the fiber laboratory will also be brought to the same place soon and that the company is studying technologies such as 6G or quantum computing.

Inclusive connectivity

Regarding its commitment to the environment, the company’s annual report reveals that during 2020 Telefónica helped companies to save 9.5 million tons of CO2 and achieved that 88% of electricity consumption came from renewable sources, a proportion that reaches 100% in its main markets.

Even so, Álvarez-Pallete defended that to guarantee the sustainability of the countries it is essential to ensure adequate connectivity. In this sense, Telefónica ranks as the second company in the ICT sector in terms of digital inclusion, in accordance with the Digital Inclusion Benchmark. In 2020, in fact, the telecommunications multinational reached 4G coverage of more than 90% of the population in the four main countries in which it operates. This is the way, according to the businessman, that, not only the new generations, but the entire society is trained and educated in digital skills. “This is the deepest revolution of humanity. It has changed everything, “he said.

Sustainable leadership

Fabrizio Ferraro, IESE.


Fabrizio Ferraro, IESE.
  • Investigation. As part of the event, IESE announced a new Sustainable Leadership Initiative, the umbrella under which a dozen professors are working on different research, teaching and dissemination projects related to sustainability. The initiative features three main areas of research: sustainability in the financial sector, sustainability in cities and communities, and sustainability in leading corporations for a just transition.
  • Commitment. “Sustainability has been an essential part of IESE’s business approach since its inception. We have always been committed to creating businesses with a long-term vision and a commitment to communities and people ”, assured the director of the new initiative and an expert in sustainability, Fabrizio Ferraro.
  • Time to act. It is the first time that the alumni meeting has been held since the pandemic spread throughout the world and, for Ferraro, the theme was clear. ”We have chosen sustainability as the theme for this year’s Global Alumni Reunion because we feel that there is no more important issue in our times. The time for companies and business leaders to act is now, and IESE is committed to leading a global shift towards more sustainable business models, ”he added during the presentation.

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