Profile: Eva Lamalfa Gil, GED Capital
The Drawdown (TDD): You joined GED Capital in June 2021, after 19 years at Galletas Gullón, as communication director. What prompted the move?
Eva Lamalfa (EL): After so many years at Gullón in a job I really enjoyed, it was difficult to bite the bullet and leave. But it was the need to balance my family and professional life that made me change course.
While I was job searching, I was lucky enough to come into contact with GED Capital. The work they were doing, in an industry that was new to me, interested me a lot.
I was attracted to the dynamics of PE and VC and the challenges they are facing relating to ESG, as well as the direct involvement I could have in the long-term growth of the firm by helping our companies fulfil their short-term objectives. I knew I would be capable of transferring the skills I had acquired from my previous role while adding new facets to my skillset.
TDD: Why did GED decide to create the role of ESG manager in June 2021?
EL: When I joined, GED already had a developed ESG policy, a dedicated ESG committee that the board of directors are involved in, and had already published its first annual ESG report.
However, there were certain factors that accelerated the need for a dedicated head of ESG, such as updates to EU sustainability regulations, digital transformation, climate change and the aftermath of the pandemic.
The creation of this role also aligns with GED’s global perspective and its intentions to work alongside developing EU regulations to work towards a sustainable transition.
TDD: You have a combined role as director of communication and director of ESG. Is there a crossover in your responsibilities? How do you divide your time accordingly?
EL: My two responsibilities as head of communication and ESG are intrinsically linked. Communication is a fundamental tool for information dissemination related to fund manager and investee company ESG objectives, as well as for publicising our policies, strategy and responsible practices. Our investors are concerned about sustainability and we need to build their trust by being transparent.
In collaboration with partners and the investment team, I am able to build a relationship with our companies and find out exactly which metrics they are fulfilling and which aspects they need to pay more attention to.
We help portfolio companies define their sustainable development plans and implement ESG objectives, as well as helping them to establish internal drivers to achieve these objectives in the long run. We also have an internal tool with more than 70 KPIs, which we pass over to our portfolios. These are monitored annually to evaluate their impact.
TDD: Can you tell me more about your ESG drivers, which are outlined in GED’s Responsible Investment Report 2022, and how they came about?
EL: Our ESG drivers are based on investor loyalty, professional integrity, transparency and responsibility with handling information. These drivers come from the aims of our corporate governance.
Part of our commitment to our investors is the way we report on our sustainability objectives and how we have compiled them. We have used SFDR and PAI disclosures as reference frameworks, and our reporting is based on international standards such as the UN PRI, SASBI and GRI.
An aspect of my role is to continually reassess and evolve our approach – it’s always a work in progress.
TDD: How have you decided to implement SFDR and how have you found the journey so far?
EL: The changes in legislation and the difficulty in interpreting them are never easy – that’s a given. Right now, all our funds are classified as Article 6 under SFDR.
We are on our way – we are transparent in our reporting and have developed our ESG policies and procedures. We are already defining the ESG characteristics for our infrastructure fund currently in fundraising. We are also defining the sustainability strategy and achievable targets of our next private equity fund. These actions could help us reach Article 8 status.
However, It’s important to say that while the investment team and I have been able to compile more than 70 KPIs, conduct regular meetings with portfolio companies and put together an ESG report, we have taken a more cautious approach by sticking to Article 6 funds. This has meant we can work with our portfolio companies to understand where the emphasis is needed to transition to Article 8 in the future.
TDD: What goals do you have in mind for the next 12 months?
EL: We have reflected a lot about our short-term goals, some of which include aligning sustainability communication with key messages and team coordination. We will revise our sustainability strategy on our website. We are also looking to improve the training we offer to our portfolio companies, so we opened a channel of communication with workshops to all the heads of ESG, talent officers and other C-suite members within our businesses.
We’re also looking to amplify our environmental strategy within our PE arm, in line with EU requirements and legislation. We have an environment plan whereby we can set objectives for our portfolio companies for the short, medium and long term.
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After discussing the importance of measuring a company’s progress during the investment cycle, Lamalfa shares with The Drawdown some information on how the data-gathering process works in practice: “We have a mixture of qualitative and quantitative KPIs, some of which are easier to track than others. For example, we ask for data such as: existence of compliance mechanisms, supply chain control, turnover growth, export, DEI, turnover rate, unadjusted pay gap, and so on.”
She adds: “The difficulty can arise when we ask for too much information from our companies or we ask them to provide quantitative data that has not been previously calculated. Sometimes, we might be unsure of the calculation’s validity. At that point, we step in and provide clarity, to ensure the required data is captured accurately and that everyone is on the same page. Data quality and reliability are integral to measuring future performance when it comes to something as intangible as sustainability.”