Human rights are an essential element of BBVA's purpose: “to bring the age of opportunity to everyone.” Its Commitment to human rights, approved in 2018, sets the foundations for further progress in that direction, involving all the people who work in BBVA’s ecosystem.
Human rights are a matter of concern for consumers and investors, analysts and civil society, which have come to expect companies to boost their involvement and compliance levels on this issues. For BBVA, the respect for people’s dignity and rights is a defining trait of its activity, closely linked to the Group’s pledge to promote and preserve well-being in the communities in which it operates. This pledge is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which are considered the global standard of conduct in this area for states and business organizations and is based on three main points:
- The State duty to protect.
- The corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
- The joint obligation to find mechanisms that ensure the repair of possible abuses against Human Rights.
Identifying the potential impact of its business transactions on human rights.To work in this direction, BBVA has carried out a due diligence process in all business and support areas in each country in which it operates, focusing on:
- Designing mechanisms within the company to prevent and mitigate them.
- Establishing adequate channels and processes that ensure that, in case of violation, there are adequate mechanisms to ensure the repair of the people affected.
The work entailed an analysis of the different areas of the Group and a study of its own corporate culture, of processes, policies and complaints and claims mechanisms, which has helped to identify the issues in which BBVA has room for improvement.
The result of this revealing analysis has been prioritized and embodied in an action plan that covers all of BBVA and its ecosystem, including employees, customers, and suppliers, taking into account other aspects, such as the interpretation of laws and regulations, the fight against tax fraud, avoidance and evasion.
BBVA has been working to raise awareness about and promote respect for human rights for a long time. In 2004, the institution became a signatory of the Equator Principles and plays an active role in the association of signatory entities; it is also a member of the United Nations Global Compact Network; it engages with NGOs and has rolled out open listening channels to identify and manage any issues that may have a potential impact on human rights. One of the most noteworthy initiatives in which it works at a sectoral level is the Thun Group, a group of banks from different parts of the world that works to understand how to apply the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on the practices, policies and business at financial institutions. This group is enriched by sharing experiences, concerns and integrating the proposals of the different stakeholders.
The Pledge is already on the table. Now is the time to honor it. And this responsibility lies on every area and every employee of BBVA. Everyone has the obligation to know what issues within their areas of competence may potentially lead to a violation of human rights and apply the mechanisms to prevent it. However, the task does not end here: the Responsible Business department will continue to perfect this pledge, its implementation and its design and will act as a second line, supporting and challenging the rest of the areas, together with Legal Services and Regulatory Compliance. Now the challenge is to keep working to achieve the main objective: to continue contributing, from the financial sector, to build a better world where human rights are respected and all people enjoy the same opportunities.