Sunday, April 21, 2024

Equality Plans Against Depopulation

Less than two hours by car from Madrid is the Serranía Celtiberica, a large territory that accounts for 13% of the total area of ​​Spain and extends over ten provinces distributed between Aragon, Valencia, Castilla y León, La Rioja and Castilla-La Mancha.

More than 63,000 square kilometers (twice the size of Belgium) that includes 1,632 municipalities, in which barely half a million people live. Or what is the same, 7.98 inhabitants per square kilometer.

The epicenter of this demographic wasteland is the Montes Universales region, between Teruel and Cuenca, with a lower population density than Lapland. It is the most unpopulated, most forgotten and emptiest area in Spain: 3,500 square kilometers (more or less like the province of Gipuzkoa), with 1.69 inhabitants per square kilometer.

A demographic desert inhabited by an aging population, without generational change, in which young people emigrate in the absence of job opportunities. A very similar situation is repeated in other corners of the country: Galicia, Andalusia, Extremadura, Asturias, Cantabria …

The demographic challenge is one of the great issues facing Spain. But this problem, shared by many European regions and countries, presents different peculiarities in each of them. For this reason, each state must approach it with a personalized approach, according to the EU officials.

In the case of Spain, the situation calls for the need to take action. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), the birth rate has decreased by 30% in the last decade. Furthermore, the number of children per woman (1,2) has also fallen by 40% in the last 10 years.

However, three out of four women would like to have at least two children, but cannot do so due to work or conciliation difficulties. If Spain continues on this path, the United Nations predicts that by 2050 it will be the second oldest country in the world, only behind Japan, with the consequent impact on productivity and growth.

These data show the need to generate a change in the management models of companies, so that they include policies to support the birth rate, such as joint responsibility and flexibility.

They also demonstrate the importance of establishing immigration policies that help, in part, to counteract the negative evolution of the Spanish demography. But the question goes much further, because it affects the future of the Welfare State itself: pensions, health care spending or job replacement.

According to the INE, the birth rate in Spain has fallen by 30% in the last decade. If it continues on this path, the United Nations predicts that by 2050 it will be the second oldest country in the world.

The president of Banco Santander, Ana Botín, has recognized on numerous occasions that “facing demographic challenges” is crucial in a society that is increasingly aware of sustainability. In fact, the bank supports and finances numerous proposals aimed at finding solutions to this problem.

Two examples are the Business Demographic Responsibility initiative (which seeks to incorporate the demographic challenge into the policies of Human Sustainability, Social Responsibility and People Management of companies), or the National Entrepreneurs Fair, which aims to establish alliances and facilitate investments in the environment. rural.

Likewise, the financial institution has opted to develop different programs aimed at promoting equality and the integration of women in the workplace.

This is the case of Santander Reencuentra , whose objective is to help those women who abandoned their professional career for family reasons to rejoin the labor market in companies in their environment.

In addition to temporary professional experience, the program includes training, coaching and mentoring actions to generate value and increase the employability of these women, who have been out of the labor market for between five and ten years.

In this first edition, one hundred women have participated. One of them is Clara Longares, who after becoming a mother saw her life change.

“You see that you cannot re-engage in anything because the worst of all is how isolated you are,” she recalls. For Clara, this Banco Santander initiative is a message of encouragement for this group, since “the important thing is to feel valued and to be active again.

There is still much to be done”. And she adds: “You have to keep believing in yourself, that is one of the biggest battles we women have. Believe that we can contribute much more than you think, that we are there with everything ”.

Another program promoted by Banco Santander headed in the same line is women with S . This mentoring initiative , which is part of the Generation 81 program, seeks to reinforce the leadership of women who want to grow in the professional field, whether to promote to a management position, start their own project or develop within their sector.

This proposal aims to unite successful women with those who pursue it, so that all are nurtured by the inspiration necessary to advance their goals.

The bank has also applied various corporate measures and equality plans in the different countries in which it operates, with the aim of achieving gender pay equity by 2025.

Work-life balance is another key issue for those responsible for the entity financial institution, which has developed minimum standards for maternity and paternity leave. The idea is to ensure that employees can balance work and life outside the office.

Likewise, Banco Santander has made available to its staff a system that allows them to make their place and working hours more flexible.

Ana Botín herself recognizes that, in order to build a more responsible bank, it is essential to “treat each worker in a simple, personal and fair way”.

“Balancing work and family life can be difficult, so we want to help our employees do so. This is how we demonstrate our commitment to supporting them and promoting diversity and equality. There is still much to do, but this is an important step in the right direction ”, he emphasizes.

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