“Economic and social progress in Latin America is being hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, as a result of which we could lose a decade of economic progress and two decades of social development. As businesses, we have got to be part of the solution, and it is our responsibility to help resolve this situation. But public policies aimed at helping alleviate this huge issue are also required.” These are some of the reflections that Antonio Huertas shared during his speech at the XIII Ibero-American Business Meeting, held in Andorra on Monday.
The MAPFRE Chairman and CEO was part of a panel called La sostenibilidad corporativa: estrategias de creación de valor en un nuevo contexto (Corporate sustainability: Value creation strategies in a new context), together with Stanley Motta, CEO and President of Motta International, Paola Buendia, Vice President of ANDI (the National Business Association of Colombia), José Luis Bonet, President of the Spanish Chamber of Commerce, Oscar Caipo Ricci, President of the Peruvian National Confederation of Private Business Institutions, and Clara Arpa, CEO of the Arpa Group and President of the UN Global Compact in Spain.
Huertas explained that Latin America is the world’s worst-hit economy by the pandemic. The region has accounted for around 30 percent of the deaths worldwide, and has seen its poverty levels fall back to those seen in 1990. In this context, “As businesses, we have shown that we are corporate citizens strongly committed to the communities in which we operate, with a clear aim of being useful to society.”
He outlined the example of MAPFRE, where the company’s incentives are fully aligned not just with those of shareholders but with those of everyone in society. “And this is not just a response to the current times. It is part of the company’s DNA. The first time the company included social responsibility as one its main pillars of action was in 1965, when MAPFRE’s Articles of Association were written.”
Likewise, work carried out by Fundación MAPFRE was highlighted. Over the course of last year and this year, the foundation allocated around 25 million euros to Latin America to fund the acquisition of healthcare equipment to fight the pandemic and also to protect health personnel, caregivers for senior citizens and all those who work with at-risk groups.
“This pandemic has left its mark in the form of weakened social structures, due to the intense economic and poverty crisis it has brought about — and not just for those who were already poor, but also for newly middle-class individuals who this year have lost what so many in the previous generation worked so hard for.”
“In this context, it is essential to promote sustainable business models, and Latin American companies can and must do much more, to lend a hand and get involved in the well-being of our societies.”