Sustainability is a fundamental part of BBVA's strategy, which involves helping customers in the transition to a green and inclusive future. In response to this challenge, the bank has made sustainability one of the key skills for its employees and has designed its own reskilling plan, identifying training needs in this area and collaborating with prestigious educational institutions such as the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Yale.
BBVA offers the greatest commitment to sustainability education in the countries where it operates. Nearly 75,000 of the bank's employees have received training in this area in less than a year. In recent months, BBVA has worked on launching specific sustainability training programs across three knowledge levels (basic, advanced and expert) with a focus on the two pillars of the new sustainability strategy: climate action and inclusive growth.
This learning ecosystem, framed within the Group's training model, Campus BBVA, is structured taking into account the needs according to the employee's role, the area and the initial and target levels. "Once the strategic priorities had been established, identifying the necessary skills and providing employees with the best training tools was essential to tackle the challenge of sustainability," explains Ricardo Laiseca, head of BBVA's Global Sustainability Office.
At the end of September 2020, an introductory course was launched for the Group's employees around the world. This course includes specific content on the fight against climate change and BBVA's direct and indirect impacts. By May 2021, more than half of the workforce had completed this course.
Last April, The Camp was presented, the bank's new reskilling proposal in which sustainability was established as one of the 14 strategic capabilities with specific training programmes. BBVA's training model puts employees at the centre of decisions concerning their professional growth, allowing them to decide what subjects they want to train in, how and when. In the first month of The Camp's existence, the sustainability programme has been the most in demand by employees themselves.
"Our goal is that by the end of the year, all employees will have a basic knowledge of sustainability, thus aligning the capacity of the workforce with the Group's strategy," says Laiseca. "At the same time, we are training experts within the bank who, because of their roles, require greater specialisation," he adds.
Training in sustainability is an ongoing effort for BBVA. To this end, it has worked on identifying advanced and specific training programmes according to the function of the different business areas, such as courses for company managers or on fundamental aspects in accompanying individual customers in their sustainable transformation.
Lastly, BBVA has identified and committed to accrediting its professionals in the main international benchmark certifications. In this sense, the bank has extended access to specific certifications for the Risk, Asset Management and Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB) teams, which are in great demand in the market and have a significant strategic impact. For the commercial network, particularly in Spain, in addition to the already existing external financial and mortgage certifications (MIFID and LCCI, respectively), two training courses have been made available for the international ISF-1 IASE and European EFPA ESG Advisor certification exams. These are certifications in green and sustainable finance to which 2,000 employees will have access, with the aim of reaching more than 10,000 in the coming years. This roll-out of the certifications allows not only the acquisition of the knowledge itself, but also lifelong learning, in a process that is always validated by independent and internationally recognized certifiers.
With the foundations in place for a large part of the workforce, the Bank's efforts are now focused on strengthening the training on offer and developing new content for certain expert profiles through specialised courses on different topics and focuses on sustainability from top-level institutions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Yale.
Oxford-trained wholesale banking experts
Specifically, a selection of key profiles in business origination, bankers and product specialists at BBVA CIB, have completed training specifically created by the University of Oxford to help wholesale customers in each sector in their transition to sustainability.
The content includes the science of climate change, the drivers of sustainable finances and new trends; the role of regulatory agents in promoting sustainability, in addition to the norms that govern technological and social change, among others. In keeping with the programme’s eminently practical approach, participants had to develop a final business project, as well as to participate in group role plays and analyze these companies’ case studies.
Through all this, BBVA aspires to be recognized as a strategic partner by their clients in matters of sustainability, providing better advice, assessing its strategic impact and supporting those transformation initiatives that best respond to the social and environmental challenges posed by climate change, while offering liquidity and sustainable financing to anticipate and meet clients’ needs in relation to their sustainable transition.
The University of Oxford is an internationally renowned institution for its research on the impact of sustainability in organizations and their own capabilities Faculty members include Dr. Ben Caldecott, Director of the Oxford University’s Sustainable Finance Programme; and Dr. Nicola Ranger, Head of Climate and Environmental Risk Research in the same programme.