Conducting our business in a responsible and sustainable way is fundamental to achieving our purpose of enabling our customers, colleagues and communities to thrive.
Responsible and sustainable business is an evolving area, and the expectations of stakeholders for greater transparency, are continually growing. Adopting the Sustainable Development Goals at a national level in Ireland, increases their relevance to both business and society. Legislative change is also affecting this area, with the EU non-nancial reporting directive now including issues such as diversity and human rights. In addition, cultural change and business transformation within the Bank are creating a context for increased focus on this area.
Engaging our stakeholders helps us address the issues that are important to them and understand their expectations, so we can continually evolve our responsible and sustainable business approach. We engage with a wide variety of stakeholders, including customers, colleagues, partners, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and investors, as well as experts in the area of responsible and sustainable business. We do this through research, meetings, media analysis, and participation in expert forums and other events, and we use what we learn to inform our planning in this area.
Bank of Ireland volunteers swap hedge funds for hedge clippers across Dublin, Galway and Cork
Celebrity Architect and RTÉ star Dermot Bannon, along with over 450 Bank of Ireland volunteers tackled 200 gardens in Dublin, Cork and Galway as part of a community initiative with Age Action. Now in its second year, the Bank of Ireland Backyard Blitz matches employees with older members of the community whose gardens are in need of a summer tidy-up and nd these jobs hard to tackle by themselves.
One of the gardens that beneted from an expert makeover was the Seán O’Casey Community Centre Garden in East Wall. The Centre provides a space for members of the 5,000-strong community in the area, 70% of which are aged over 65. With Dermot Bannon’s design expertise, Bank of Ireland volunteers will refurbish the garden adding a patio area, pergola, beautiful plants and a mural to brighten up the area for all the residents of the community.
The Group Nomination and Governance Committee (GNGC) of the Board has overall responsibility for Responsible and Sustainable Business. It receives regular updates on progress, and reviews and approves the annual programme. Responsibility for implementing the programme as approved by the committee rests with an expert Responsible and Sustainable Business Team.
Given growing expectations, stakeholders’ interest and the business transformation within the Bank, we intend to evolve our responsible and sustainable business approach further in 2019. This will include publishing a multi-year plan informed by a materiality exercise, the successful reaccreditation of the Business Working Responsibly Mark, and the development of a community and charity investment strategy fully aligned to our business.
Our performance in 2018 is presented through the lens of customer, colleague and community in line with our Group Purpose.
Improving our culture
Our commitment to being a responsible and sustainable business includes transforming our culture within the bank and playing our part in cultural improvement across the wider sector. In 2018, we supported the establishment of the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) - an independent board funded by ve retail banks in Ireland. The IBCB has been formed in recognition of the fact that public trust in the banking sector has been damaged and that a determined effort is required to rebuild that trust and support cultural reform.
In late 2018, the IBCB surveyed all colleagues within the ve retail banks, held a public consultation, and appointed Mr Justice John Hedigan to the role of Chairman.
At the invitation of our regulators, Bank of Ireland took part in a number of events to contribute to the debate on cultural change in the sector. In October, our Group CEO Francesca McDonagh participated in a panel discussion as part of a joint Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) and Trinity College Dublin conference on corporate governance, ‘Culture, Diversity and the Way Forward’. In November Francesca also addressed the European Central Bank (ECB) conference on ‘Communications ethics and compliance: risk, reputation and returns’ in Frankfurt, on the topic ‘Values and valuations - why culture in banking really matters’.