Squaring an interview requires weeks of patience, but the agenda of the only CEO of the IBEX 35 tightens the times, especially in a period of tremendous inflation. But when he goes to work, his answers are appreciated without the corset inherent in positions of responsibility. She detests political correctness, rejects gender stereotypes and embraces constancy, inspired by her favorite poem, Yes, by Rudyard Kipling, which rests in her office and until recently on the bedside table of her three children, whom she forced to memorize: "If you can meet Triumph and Disaster and treat the two impostors equally..." Of childhood marked by the cold of Burgos and the values of his parents (he was obsessed with giving his daughters the same training opportunities as his sons), Dancausa ventures that the real estate market "will find it difficult to return to normal circumstances", that "the tone and the faults in politics make it difficult to solve the structural problems that the country has" and that it will be necessary to resign itself to "lengthening the working life".
QUESTION. It is said that he flees from political correctness. Have you ever bitten your tongue?
ANSWER. They are different things. You have to bite your tongue to contain yourself in certain situations, for example, if someone lets out an outburst. Now, being politically correct hides a certain cowardice, because you do not dare to say what you think and accept positions that do not agree with yours. I'm not politically correct, but I try to restrain myself if someone provokes me.
P. The messages perceived by society are not very optimistic. Inflation, difficult access to housing, loss of purchasing power. Do you understand the concerns of the new generations?
A. Each new generation has faced a certain reality, each with its own problems. To a world built by previous generations with its own postulates. That said, there are reasons for the new generations to feel additional concerns to those that haunt society in general. Otherwise the deep gap between overall unemployment figures and that of young people, which exceeds 30 per cent, would not be explained. These additional difficulties are a failure of society as a whole, to which it is worth devoting a deep reflection, because it is in our hands to correct the excesses (and defects) in which we have incurred.
Q. What excesses are you referring to?
A. I think our generation has been very overprotective of our children and made them less tolerant of frustration. But, as I say, their situation is possibly more difficult. When we finished our degree there was also a crisis and we found work. Now it is complicated and it is a drama because young people can bring those great changes that manage to improve society.
P. He recently acknowledged that he was concerned about the lack of values and the "short-term" goals of society. What do you mean?
A. Short-termism is perfectly defensible and very necessary in times of emergency, when decisions must be taken without delay and with immediate purposes. What I am not so happy about is extending that short term to countless decisions, most of which should be aimed at cementing transformation projects that must necessarily be long-term, and that require perseverance and continuity for which the generalized tension that is being experienced today is a difficult obstacle to overcome. I am possibly influenced by the length of recent election campaigns, where solid proposals that everyone should defend are not usually present, probably because they are not considered to attract votes.
Q. Saving in Spain, a chimera?
A. People don't have money to spare. Although the cost of living is lower compared to other countries of the European Union, salaries in Spain are not exactly high and this makes it difficult to save. Of course, women know how to save better than men.
Q. Do politicians charge little?
A. The salaries of politicians are low and say little about Spanish society. They should be well paid so that their priorities were different. In many cases, having no alternative way out, they worry more about what they lose if they leave the post than about doing things right.
P. If they were paid to agree...
A. The political class is very much at odds, at least behind closed doors. I believe that these faults and discrepancies do not help to create the climate of concord that we need at this time.
P. Many will wonder what will become of their pensions. Is the system guaranteed?
A. The current system presents obstacles, but that does not mean that it does not respond or is failed. We have been listening for decades to catastrophic messages that have never been fulfilled. And it is that there are solutions, but logically they require a lot of initiative, well-thought-out action plans, and surely a few resignations, something that in general will find opposition in a good part of today's society, little given to accepting resignations.
Q. Will we have to retire after 70?
A. The sustainability of our pensions will force us all to a deep joint reflection, as a society, that will lead us to establish great agreements. It is true that life expectancy today is not the same as it was 30 years ago and that the state of health and activity of a person of 70 today is not the same as that of yesteryear. On the other hand, the professional activity is very diverse, and just as there are intellectual professions where it would be perfectly viable to see a 70-year-old person working, without a doubt the situation would not be the same for other types of activities. In the short term, I do not see the retirement age being pushed back to 70. And about the future, I would not know how to give an accurate forecast at this time.
P. When you talk about cutting bank profits, you're blunt...
A. I am blunt when it comes to cutting benefits on a whim, or for purely emotional reasons; I am blunt when it comes to cutting benefits, or rather suppressing them, simply because, yes, because it is a religion in which we believe wholeheartedly; I am blunt when some entities are discriminated against from others, or to one economic sector from another, with no other basis than the supposed popularity that it enjoys before the citizenship.
Q. Do you understand the distance that may occur between the messages that are launched from the bank and those that reach citizens?
A. I do not understand it, but I accept that it is so. Possibly we have not done well the basic duties of communication about the services we provide to society, and it is clear that we have to explain better what we do, because banks are an essential part in the functioning of any modern economy, financing people's dreams: their homes, their business projects, etc.
Q. Is the four-day workweek viable?
A. Of course, for large companies it is a viable scenario, and the larger it is, the more capacity it has to distribute and dilute the negative effects that this entails. The problem comes with the not-so-big ones. It is worth remembering that there are many people, many people, who the day they do not work do not enter a penny in their pockets. There are the self-employed and so many professions that charge for the work done, and not for the time elapsed. That is when initiatives that may seem very laudable, such as the reduction of days worked, end up generating strong discrimination based on the business dimension, paid by those who have not been lucky enough to be part of the payroll of a large company.
Q. What do you resign from an IBEX 35 CEO?
A. Running an IBEX 35 company is a privilege that necessarily entails multiple resignations every day, for the simple reason that many decisions have to be made, each of great importance and with important consequences. Now that my children are older they value my work and effort, I notice the pride they have in their mother, but for a while I felt guilty for not being able to accompany them to important acts. You also give up free time, with family or friends, but I am well aware of the privilege I have with this position I chose.
P. That feeling of guilt and conciliation are two concepts linked by an invisible thread...
A. Conciliation is a pending task and I do not know to what extent it is related to our own condition. We feel responsible for everything and sometimes it is difficult for us to delegate. I think the younger generations are much clearer that we all play the same role and I guess they will overcome it. But for this it is important that companies have policies that allow flexibility, because in professional life one goes through different stages. In some you give 120% and in others you can not more than 80%, because you must devote more time to other personal issues.
P. He has spoken out against quotas. What would be your analysis of the gender gap in IBEX management positions?
A. The battle for equal opportunities has been won day after day since the battle for equality in education was won, something about which there is no longer debate in the Western world, and which we can take for granted. From there it seems to me that it is only a matter of time, I estimate that less than a generation, for us to see absolute normality in the exercise of professional functions indistinctly by men or women, whatever level they are. An important step in Spain would be to have a woman at the head of the nation's executive branch. It is a pending issue that we must not delay in achieving. I am sure that it would be more conciliatory and would help to resolve the ancestral issues that we have been dragging for a long time.
Q. How do you understand leadership?
A. A leader is the one that people follow, not the one that is imposed. Although in this case they should judge others, I can point out that I really like to listen to my team and their ideas. I am very persevering, I rise from the ashes. If one day things do not go as you want, the next day you should try again.
Q. What does Mª Dolores Dancausa do when she is not in work mode?
A. The best remedy to dissipate tensions is to go out to oxygenate myself, both in the strict sense, going to the nearest park to run and breathe, or figuratively, drastically changing air, in the Mediterranean Sea or somewhere somewhat distant from the usual places.
Q. Give us an optimistic message to finish...
A. That there is no alternative but to be optimistic. And not only because there are objective reasons for it, but because it is capable of generating new ideas that prevent the triumph of pessimistic scenarios and stimulate the triumph of optimistic scenarios.
According to the criteria of The Trust Project