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CORPORATIVO | 05.05.2021

Elena Sanz: “We have to commit to being flexible around working hours and move toward a global hybrid model”

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In an interview with Actualidad Aseguradora, the Group Chief People Officer praises MAPFRE’s ability to plan ahead when it came to people management during the pandemic, as well as the Group’s commitment to diversity and equality.

Actualidad Aseguradora, a leading publication among insurance professionals in Spain, begins the article by highlighting that anticipating what lies ahead is in MAPFRE’s DNA. This is the conclusion of the interview with Elena Sanz, Group Chief People Officer, who notes that, when faced with the pandemic, the Group already had a contingency plan prepared, in order to guarantee employee and client safety, ensure the business continuity and to help wider society. A plan that “we started to implement in a highly coordinated way, on both a local and global level.”

When it came to people management in particular, Elena Sanz draws attention to some of the aspects that were key to MAPFRE being able to adapt in the wake of the pandemic. For example, flexibility. “We had to change and adapt our labor relations to become entirely flexible. It’s what our people, clients and our business needed.” In this context, she said “We have to commit to being flexible around working hours and the ability to work remotely. This helps us move toward a global hybrid model, where employees can choose to work one or two days a week away from the office.”

Elena Sanz emphasizes that this flexibility directly impacts employee experience: “The more flexibility you give people, the more grateful they are, because they can organize their lives the way they want to.”

Besides flexibility, communication—both internal and external—is also particularly relevant during the pandemic, in conjunction with the rigor, transparency and approachability of leaders. Elena Sanz points out various actions such as the COVID-19 Kit, which “we released every other week with all the latest information on health, prevention, labor relations and flexibility. It was very important to us to establish cohesion and coordination with all countries.” Initiatives such as #AskMAPFRE were also crucial, where she and MAPFRE Chairman and CEO Antonio Huertas took to the Intranet to answer questions from employees around the world.

Other key aspects included training leaders and the role of the leader. “[Leaders] had to adapt to a fundamental change within a matter of hours: from leading teams in person, to working remotely.” Elena Sanz lists the defining qualities of a MAPFRE leader: “digital leader, learning leader, knowledge leader, strategic leader, values leader and someone who leads by example.” She then refers to five behaviors “that are key in this digitization-driven transformation: collaborate, innovate, be agile, respect and communication.”

MAPFRE’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunities

In the interview, Elena Sanz also refers to the efforts made by Group to drive diversity and equality, through the public commitments adopted by the company. She highlights that important progress is being made “with a lot of awareness-raising and internal work. In our company this is something essential that everyone understands.”

However, while Elena Sanz believes “glass ceilings are being broken,” she warns that “there is still a long way to go” and that there are three aspects in particular that need work: women’s access to job positions that have so far been occupied by men; flexible working hours, which will help employees find a better work-life balance; and awareness and education, in relation to equality, respect and shared responsibility.