SPAIN - Economy
President, Balearic Association of Family Businesses (ABEF)
After completing her university studies, Esther Vidal Ferrer began her professional career in management at the age of 25 in the sports field, later moving on to management in her own events and services company. In 2013, she joined Autovidal, the family company in the automotive sector of which she is now the Commercial and Marketing Director. She has also been president of the Balearic Association of Family Businesses since 2019.
ABEF works to advise its member companies on the nuances of ensuring family companies can successfully pass from one generation to the next.
What does family business represent for the economy of the Balearic Islands?
At the Balearic level, 91% of private companies are family owned enterprises, which by our estimations account for 35% of GDP, directly, and 91% of private employment in our region. Clearly, family businesses are the engine of the economy. Each has its origin in one person and continuity in the next family member to take the wheel. There are large companies, such as Barceló, Grupo Piñero, Iberostar, Camper or Meliá, to name a few, that have started as local family businesses and have made their way to international markets successfully.
How does the association work to promote the value that the family model brings to the wider economy of the islands?
Our main objective is not only for companies to be profitable, but that they have family continuity. And for this, we explain the importance and train them to adopt the same management structures: a board of directors, executive committees, and direct management committees and also management bodies specific to family businesses such as the Family Council, Family Assemblies, and the use of Family Protocols that set the rules that link the family to the company and that seek to ensure that there are no disagreements in this relationship so as not to endanger the continuity of the company. If family businesses have continuity, they have a hugely positive impact on the local economy. That is why our association tries to instill in its members the importance of family protocols that addresses sensitive topics such as who can work in a company, what requirements they need to meet, the training required, and who can and cannot be a shareholder. Consideration of these issues helps ensure that family companies successfully pass from generation to generation. We work to promote the significance and image of family businesses. We also undertake lobbying work to raise awareness of our role as an economic engine.
How are family companies being guided to engage in corporate social responsibility for a greater positive impact?
We always say that in family businesses we work to strike a balance across multiple dimensions. Obviously in economic terms, because without generating business we cannot exist. And yet the social and environmental balance is vital, too. At the 24th Congress of the Family Business held in 2021 in Pamplona, all the regional associations signed a manifesto under the slogan “we work for a better society.” To record our commitment to the challenges posed by the global society in which we live, and to commit ourselves to managing our companies sustainably. This is understood in terms of three inseparable elements: business, social and environmental. We also encourage our members to commitment to promoting diversity, gender equality, and social inclusion. And of course we work to ensure stable and quality employment for the next generation. The environmental perspective is a commitment to reducing CO2 emissions and decarbonize, which is especially important in a location such as the Balearic Islands.
What is your overall message on the economy of the Balearic Islands as we gradually emerge from the shadow of COVID-19?
I am positive and look to our economic future with optimism. The Balearic Islands have returned to their leader position in tourism, with positive data on job creation to match. At an international level, there are logistical problems, increased costs, including those of energy, which has led to high inflation. As such, our future economic performance will depend on how these factors pan out. 2022 marks a recovery for our tourism industry that stands to have a knock-on effect on our other industries. I am optimistic that we will finally emerge from the pandemic and its economic fallout. Family businesses will continue to operate with the familiar passion, pride and responsibility of the past, committed to the present, and optimistic for the future.