​​WSBI-ESBG Charter for Resp​​onsible Business

December 2020


Preamble


WSBI-ESBG member banks all over the world enjoy a long history of socially responsible banking. Although their organizational structure differs from country to country, they share important values in their business policy, which are embedded in the three “R”s:

  • ​Retail: Active in providing retail financial services for people - individual consumers and the self-employed, households, micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and local authorities, thus ensuring financial inclusion and a chance for everyone to prosper.

  • Regional: Deploy broad decentralised distribution networks rooted within the communities they serve, including local and regional reach in both urban and rural areas, thus contributing to economic transformation and progress.  

  • Responsible: Provide long-term support aimed at balancing economic, social and ecological demands, thus bringing a return to society as a core business aspect.

A signatory of the United Nations Global Compact since 2006, WSBI-ESBG follows the 10 Principles within it.  These principles describe fully social and environmental responsibility commitments to follow. Based on this, WSBI-ESBG pays deep consideration to the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, which range from ending world poverty to fighting climate change by 2030.  


The existing United Nations Global Compact and the Sustainable Development Goals inspired the pillars built around the WSBI-ESBG Charter for Responsible Business, which places clear focus on banking topics. 

​WSBI-ESBG member banks place a strong commitment on sustainable development and factor in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) as an integral part of their business. Accordingly, WSBI-ESBG recommends a commitment to the following responsible principles.


1. Fair and Clear Relations with Customers

To build and maintain a long-term relationship of trust and confidence with those people they serve as customers, WSBI-ESBG member banks:

  • ​Provide clear, accurate information on products and services and other terms and conditions of use, in the branches, via mobile and online, thus fostering and promoting transparency. 

  • Give advice that meets customer need. At the same time, promote products and services appropriate with their personal circumstances and financial profile, paying special attention to the most vulnerable. 

  • Address customer complaints quickly and efficiently. 

  • Work against money laundering as well as financing of terrorism.

2. Promotion of Accessibility and Financial Inclusion

As fair partners for all segments of society, WSBI-ESBG member banks:

  • ​​​​Serve all segments of the population,  from younger people to those who, due to their advanced age, lack access to digital banking services to widen financial inclusion. ​​

  • Promote savings and facilitate access to modern financial products and services that are tailored to the financial profile of the person concerned, including those with lower incomes or modest means. 

  • Ensure banking accessibility and proximity, close-to-customer banking close at hand by means of their dense network of branches throughout the country, including low populated and economically disadvantaged areas, and via a well-developed range of electronic access channels. 

  • Make branches and distribution channels as accessible as possible to elderly people, persons with physical disabilities or impairments. 

  • Provide high-quality financial education programmes to fulfil the commitment of providing citizens with a better knowledge of financial issues that will enable them to make informed choices through their lives, thus helping a more resilient society.
     

3. Environment-Friendly Business

WSBI-ESBG​ member banks recognise that climate change is one of the main collective hazards ever experienced worldwide. As part of their strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development, WSBI-ESBG and its members contribute to the mitigation of climate change and therefore they:

  • Acknowledge the risks and opportunities caused by environmental issues and adapt their business accordingly. 

  • Work towards mitigating the impact of their business on the environment, both directly in terms of own operations and indirectly in terms of customers and suppliers. 

  • Promote environmentally sustainable projects for, amongst others, the energy and transport sectors, mainly via the loan business and ultimately to all stakeholders. 

  • Promote products and services that respect social, good governance and environmental and sustainable development criteria.

​4. Making a Responsible Contribution to the Community

Sustainability means more than just green. It holds a deeply profound social dimension that is part of the DNA of WSBI-ESBG members. Savings and retail banks place a strong social commitment, a factor that differentiates them from other actors in the financial sector, and are a driver for job creation and economic growth. As it forms a central role within their identity, WSBI-ESBG member banks:

  • ​Link their business aims and success to the needs of local communities and society in which they operate, over and beyond their customer base. 

  • Drive local economic growth, entrepreneurship and jobs. 

  • Develop, implement, and support a wide scope of social initiatives to achieve a more inclusive society.

  • Engage with communities through multi-stakeholders partnerships and corporate philanthropy, in such fields as medical and scientific research, arts and culture, social entrepreneurship, education, integration, as well as the preservation of natural and historical heritage. 

  • Commit to integrity and ethics among staff, management and governing bodies.

  • Can adopt government structures which allow for democratic backing and supervision from local communities

  • Act self-sustaining and prevent the public from socialised losses.

5. Responsible Employers

In their role as responsible employers and as part of their philosophy, WSBI-ESBG member banks:

  • ​Promote and respect human rights. Promote gender diversity and inclusion, as equal opportunity employers, they do not discriminate on any grounds in their workplace ​and promote the empowerment of women.
     
  • Provide high-quality jobs and good, healthy working conditions for their employees in all the regions in which they operate. Also, help achieve a good work-life balance.

  • Promote a corporate culture strongly aligned with the responsible role of their business.  

  • Promote training and life-long learning opportunities to facilitate career advancement. 

6. The Digital Dimension

WSBI-ESBG members embed the digital dimension in their business models, and therefore:

  • Provide the highest levels of data security, confidentiality and cybersecurity. 

  • Further promote outreach and leverage accessibility and proximity banking, taking advantage of the latest digital means. 

  • Address digital exclusion through multiple forms of engagement - delivery and support channels included - and digital financial education. 

7. Communication

Transparency matters greatly. Clear communication of activities and policies plays an important role for responsible business. Accordingly, WSBI-ESBG members will:

  • ​Publish the charter for responsible business. 

  • Invite charter subscribers to communicate publicly on their efforts to implement charter principles. 

  • Publish their sustainability achievements at least on an annual basis. ​