There is hope for hope?

I never thought that the context in which I wrote about boards of directors in Spain was so critical, unexpected, sad, and with such an uncertain future. Therefore, what I am going to give here is my opinion, since with all humility I admit that I feel incapable of anticipating what will be the future of our beloved Spain, of our economy, and of the management bodies of its companies. I am already saying that there are sufficient reasons to hope that we will recover, since we will come out stronger as we have been every time we have fallen.

To do so, we will need a united society, one that shows solidarity and looks to the short term, but above all, to the medium and long term, in which we walk together towards the same future of prosperity. The governing bodies of our companies and, in particular, the boards of directors will be decisive, as it will be their decisions that will lead us to this new prosperity.

Enrique Quemada Clariana, in his post released on April 24, explained that in two months we have advanced five years in the technological field, referring to teleworking, which has come to stay. But I believe that this statement can be applied to all areas of our lives, and the boards of directors are not going to be an exception.

Until two months ago, all the forums were talking about how far behind our boards were in terms of gender equality (the last study I read about data from the National Securities Market Commission showed that 392 female directors were still needed for us to be considered to have reached parity on the continuous market: 119.5 and the IBEX 35 and 2727, 5 for the rest of the listed companies). The European Institute for Gender Equality also pointed out that improvements in this area would generate up to 10.5 million additional jobs by 2050, the employment rate would reach almost 80% and the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita could grow by almost 10% more by 2050.

However, I believe that in the last two months we have made progress in the area of corporate governance and that the boards of our companies are going to have to adapt not only to achieve gender parity and be more economically efficient, but also to appoint boards of directors with a huge variety of profiles, both men and women, who bring vital experience, different criteria depending on their age, their sectoral knowledge and their experience in financial, legal, risk control, crisis anticipation and decision-making in stressful situations. I fear that crisis situations, like teleworking and new technologies, are here to stay.

I hope that our boards of directors, and those who have to make the decision on their composition, have learned from this crisis what might have taken five years under normal circumstances, and that they will give entry to those classified so far as seniors, be they women or men, leaving these people with so much life and professional experience not to be deprived (as was happening until now) of bringing all that baggage to our companies. I hope that they will be able to sit at an advisory table and get along with young people who, full of energy, ideas and vision of the future, bring that wonderful baggage that their youth gives them. The boards of directors must be surrounded by sectoral, financial, legal and control strategy and risk reaction experts, which will inevitably become more frequent.

I appeal to all of this with the hope that we Spaniards have historically had an attitude of self-improvement. As Victor Frankl said: “The attitude with which you respond to what happens to you is your last freedom and the one that nobody can take away from you”. If we are able to respond to this crisis with the same attitude as always, the one that no one can ever take away from us, interiorising and using all the wisdom that these two months have brought, there will be hope for Spain, for our economy and for our companies.

María Segimón de Manzanos

She has a degree in Law and a diploma in Business Management and Administration from the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas- ICADE, in addition to having completed a Senior Management Program (PADE) at IESE Business School .

She has been a partner in the corporate area of Clifford Chance and DLA Piper in Spain, specializing in capital markets M&A and responsible for corporate legal advice for Ferrovial. She has also been an independent director of Hispania Activos Inmobiliarios Socimi, S.A., Axiare Patrimonio Socimi S.A. and Moove Cars Sustainable Transports, a proprietary director (representing Ferrovial) of the listed Polish company Budimex and Habitat Inmobiliaria and an executive director of CBRE Global Investors, where she was also a member of its advisory board, management committee and general counsel and compliance officer for Spain and Portugal.