Astrid Alvarez: "We must support causes that generate equality" - El Espectador
29 March 2019
March 28 - 9:00 PM
Three years ago the CEO of Grupo Energía Bogotá joined this company, which is known for closing gender gaps within the organization and which today has one of the most attractive stocks in the Colombian market
You lead the gender equality policy. What is it about?
Talent has no gender, but we must support causes that generate equality in every way. In Colombia, this cause began almost two decades ago, during which time it has evolved. We went from asking for a minimum participation rate (30% of positions) to being aware of the importance of preparing and training ourselves to open more spaces. At Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB), for example, women hold 41% of positions at all levels. Today, two women managers are leading the two of the most important transmission projects. The private and public sectors play a fundamental role in promoting equality. We have built strategic alliances by adhering to the principles of UN Women for the empowerment of women and implementing the Seal of Equal Employment Opportunity, which seeks to identify and close gender gaps within the organization, and for which we recently signed a voluntary agreement with the Minister of Labor, Alicia Arango, who leads the program in Colombia.
What were the operational results for 2018 announced at the shareholders' meeting?
We delivered excellent news, with over 13 % growth in dividends compared to the previous year. We achieved a dividend yield of more than 6%, which makes us one of the most attractive stocks in the Colombian market. Income was historic, reaching $1,7 billion, an increase of more than 13 % compared to 2017.
How do you see Colombia's situation in the international arena?
We're optimistic. Colombia is an attractive country for the international market because of several factors. First, this year's economic growth is expected to be approximately 3,3 %, or even higher at 3,5 %, the same level of growth projected for the world economy. And by 2022 we could have over 4% GDP growth, returning to levels we had five years ago. In addition, more and more companies are implementing corporate governance standards, which allows for clear rules of play, thus giving greater confidence to investors.
You are a leader in implementing strategies that favor the companies you have worked for, but you also have ties to social responsibility. How do you strike a balance?
The best return on investment is to bring progress to the communities. We are building green corridors, like the Armenia project with the Barbas Bremen reserve, for example. Balance is achieved by incorporating the concept of sustainability, understood as the Group's ability to understand and manage the environment in which business is conducted, and to innovate in business. All of this is based on the permanent social awareness of each of our employees, having a genuine relationship with the communities at the villages and municipalities where we operate.
In terms of sustainability, GEB was chosen as one of the world's top companies. What does this mean for the company and for the country?
This represents a greater commitment to undertake in each and every one of our activities with the utmost responsibility towards the community, the environment and the shareholders. For the country, it is an example that shows that companies can be successful and profitable by actually implementing sustainability policies as part of their economic activity.
How is the expansion process advancing in Peru?
We are very happy with our investments in this country. In Peru we are leaders in power transmission sector with our partner ISA in which we hold 66% of the market. But we want to continue growing. Recently we presented a takeover bid for Dunas Energía, a very important company in the distribution and commercialization of power in Ica. This operation, which is in the process of being approved by the Peruvian authorities, will allow us to continue growing and will consolidate our position as one of the main investors in the energy sector. We are also number one in natural gas with our companies Cálidda and Contugas. We hold 76% of the market with more than 800,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers, thus benefiting more than three million Peruvians.
How is the team you like to work with?
It is precisely people who are prepared, who work with passion, who have social sensitivity. People who in a transmission project, for example, not only see numbers and budgets, but also take an interest in the community, to bring them progress and well-being. This sensitivity is key to establishing genuine relationships with the communities where we operate. We not only bring power and natural gas, but we work hand in hand with the communities.