Our purpose, the company´s main asset

On April 13, Robert Waldinger, the prestigious psychiatrist and researcher of the largest study of human happiness, visited us. Endorses our study "La importancia de las conexiones humanas" and presents us with his book "Una buena vida".

Robert Waldinger speech
Reading time: 4 min

Never before at Telefónica have we had such a clear, agreed and relevant company purpose. Making our world more human by connecting people’s lives is no longer just our purpose but has become one of the company’s main assets. It is a rallying cry that provides us with a clear and exciting roadmap, bringing all employees together and setting us apart from other corporations.

At Telefónica we have been connecting people’s lives for almost 100 years, but how do we make our world more human? The answer is simple: we drive sustainable and inclusive development in the countries where we operate by facilitating people’s connections through the best technology.

Making our world more humane means driving universal fibre optic coverage, promoting technology at the service of the egalitarian and sustainable city, funding start-ups to scale up, or helping to eliminate the gender pay gap or training young people in groups with unequal access to opportunities. These are just a few examples of all that Telefónica does in the societies where it operates, which boils down to connecting people.

There is little scientific evidence that demonstrates the important benefits that connections have on human beings. Undoubtedly, one of the best- and best-known works is led by the prestigious American psychiatrist Robert Waldinger. Thanks to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, based on the analysis over 84 years of the physical and psychological health of more than 720 men, and which now continues to be carried out with their wives and children, it has been possible to prove the positive effect that good personal relationships have on our happiness and our physical health. The study debunks myths about fame and wealth as a source of happiness and gives us two main lessons: loneliness reduces life expectancy, and the quality of our relationships is important because it will determine our health.

Through the study ‘The importance of human connections’ carried out by Telefónica, we have also found that personal relationships are the main source of well-being and happiness because thanks to them we cover human needs related to our physiological and psychological well-being, belonging, affection, communication and personal growth. That is why connecting people’s lives is so significant: because without connection there is sometimes no relationship and therefore no access to the source of happiness that relationships represent.

Thanks to this qualitative and quantitative research carried out in Spain, UK, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Chile, we understand that what we do every day at Telefónica, connecting people, has a very positive impact on society.  A conclusion of great consensus that we found among the conclusions of the study:

  • In all countries, personal relationships are fundamental, 3 out of 4 citizens say so, but even more so in Brazil, where 85% of those surveyed said so.
  • In all the countries surveyed, one’s own partner and children as well as one’s family of origin (parents and siblings) are the two most important relationship groups without discussion, more so than friends, extended family, colleagues and co-workers, etc. The time of life determines the importance of the different groups, so that the family of origin is more important among younger people.
  • There is a strong consensus that technology helps a lot to maintain quality relationships, with 7 out of 10 respondents saying so. The influence of technology is much greater in countries with younger populations: Brazil, Mexico or Peru compared to Spain or Germany.
  • Something similar happens with the role of social networks in our lives. In all countries, almost 6 out of 10 citizens say it is important for maintaining relationships.

When a company such as Telefónica states its purpose so forcefully, it demonstrates its commitment to the societies in which it operates. The company’s purpose allows the company to connect with the social fabric through the positive impact that its activity produces in all its markets.

But why is our purpose one of our main assets? Some say that purpose-driven companies double their market value four times faster than others and also have a higher return on capital. And that purpose-driven companies are the preferred choice for consumers and investors. Underlying this behaviour is a growing social conscience – a society increasingly concerned about the global challenges we face seeks out and rewards companies that take a clear stand on these challenges.

Our activity has a positive impact that goes far beyond the bottom line, as it also generates many other benefits. As the study ‘The importance of connections’ shows, connectivity is a source of people’s mental and physical health. I can think of no better effect on society today.


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