Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
Positioned as a full service bank for all, Nedbank Group is South Africa’s fourth largest banking group measured by assets. It provides a range of wholesale and retail banking, insurance, and asset and wealth management solutions, as well as carbon financing and renewable energy investment advisory services. Primarily focused on southern Africa, the group has a vision to grow its reach across the entire African continent.
Widely regarded as South Africa’s ‘green’ bank, Nedbank Group is recognised for its sustainability leadership. This is the result of the group’s integrated approach that combines the four pillars of environmental, social, economic and cultural sustainability to ensure that it delivers sustainable benefits for all its stakeholders, the environment, and the communities in which it operates.
For example, the bank recently became the first financial services organisation in Africa to achieve carbon neutrality. This achievement capped the Group’s environmental sustainability journey of more than 20 years, which has been characterised by a number of notable achievements, including:
- The first African financial services signatory to the Equator Principles;
- One of only three companies with JSE primary listings to be included on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index;
- Emerging Markets Sustainable Bank of the Year for Middle East and Africa in the 2007, 2008 and 2010 Financial Times Sustainability Awards;
- Third highest ranked South African company on the Global 1000 Sustainable Performance Leaders Index.
Essentially, sustainability permeates every aspect of the group’s business and informs the way it thinks, behaves, operates and plans for the future.
When it comes to supporting, uplifting and empowering individuals and communities, Nedbank Group takes the term ‘socio-economic’ literally. Because neither ‘social’ nor ‘economic’ can be fully effective on its own, this component of the group’s social sustainability thrust comprises both economic and social development initiatives. Wherever possible, these are integrated to improve living conditions, financial situations, business potential and transformation of individuals and companies benefiting from the group’s social sustainability commitment.
As the primary Corporate Social Investment (CSI) arm of Nedbank Group, the work of the Nedbank Foundation is vital to the group’s social sustainability efforts. To ensure that the difference it makes to individuals and communities in need is a lasting one, the foundation focuses its efforts and contributions on four areas, namely: Education, Community development, Skills development and Health.
Nedbank Group strives to support the ‘green’ efforts of its clients by offering them a range of environmentally focused banking and financial products and services. This commitment to promoting environmental sustainability via innovative product development is supported at all levels of the organisation.
For instance, The Nedbank Savvy Electronic Account is a popular transactional banking vehicle for environmentally conscious consumers. It’s an electronic current account with a full range of transactional features, and is completely paperless, linked to the Nedbank Green Affinity offering, allowing clients to conserve and contribute to the environment.
For every client that opts for electronic statements rather than paper statements, Nedbank donates 25 cents to the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, specifically for the Climate Change Programme.
Also, the Group announced its commitment to working towards carbon neutrality in 2009. Less than a year later, it became the first African company to achieve African zero carbon status. The Group has not achieved neutrality by simply buying carbon offsets. The process included a combination of organisational behaviour changes, reduction targets and operational efficiencies. As a result of the carbon reduction initiatives and operational efficiencies achieved, the Group saved R36 million over three years.
In 2011, Nedbank launched South Africa’s first Green Index, which serves as a benchmark for environmentally-conscious investors. The Index aims to become the industry standard in measuring performance of companies with environmentally sustainable business practices. To ensure objectivity, the Index is built on the
Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) database and the UN-register of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in South Africa.
Still another innovation is Nedbank’s ‘Caring for our Communities and Saving our World’ initiative, a comprehensive consumer education programme aimed at enlightening communities on taking responsibility for their own sustainability by offering them tools and information to do so. The programme reflects the interdependence of the four key pillars of sustainability.