Westpac Group today released its 2019 Sustainability Performance Report (PDF 5MB) as part of its broader annual reporting suite.
Westpac Group CEO, Brian Hartzer described 2019 as a watershed year both for the banking industry and for Westpac.
“Over the course of the year we have made important changes in areas such as complaints handling and product design, to help build a stronger and more sustainable bank.”
“We take seriously our commitment to running our business in a sustainable way: supporting the communities we operate in, behaving ethically, meeting our regulatory requirements, and contributing more broadly to important issues such as climate change.”
Notable highlights at the two year mark of the Group’s 2020 Sustainability Strategy include:
- working to better support customers in vulnerable circumstances, a prominent theme in the findings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. In 2018, Westpac introduced a Customer Vulnerability Action Plan and since then has put in place new policies, training and a 1800 Priority Assist number to support customers in complex vulnerable situations such as family violence, elder or financial abuse.
- recognising the importance of renewable energy as a way to decrease Westpac’s own environmental footprint. This year, Westpac committed to sourcing 100% of its global electricity consumption through renewable sources by 2025.
- innovations in sustainable finance, helping customers on their pathway towards a net zero emissions economy. This year Westpac introduced its first sustainability-linked loans, through which borrowers are rewarded for meeting pre-determined sustainability targets.
“As we reflect on our broader sustainability agenda, collaboration is increasingly a hallmark of leadership,” said Mr Hartzer. Progress includes:
- this year, Westpac was a founding bank and signatory to the Principles of Responsible Banking announced at the United Nations General Assembly in September. Westpac was one of 130 banks globally, representing one third of the global banking sector, to commit to strategically align its business with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN Sustainability Development Goals.
- Westpac joined other Australian banks, insurers, super funds, investors and industry groups to form the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative, and are part of the newly established Corporate Sustainability Working Group of the Australian Banking Association (ABA) that will be working together in areas such as climate change, modern slavery and a set of common sustainability metrics.
- Westpac Foundation marks its 140th anniversary this year. With its ambitious goal to help change 100,000 lives for the better and help create 10,000 jobs for people that need it most by 2030, collaboration is also a key theme. Working with social enterprises that are creating jobs and training opportunities for people facing barriers to mainstream employment for over a decade, this year the Foundation announced the first five social enterprises to receive funding through its new collaborative funding approach in partnership with ten other organisations.
“While this has been a challenging year,” said Mr Hartzer, “we are proud to report that our actions have seen us regain our position as Australia’s most sustainable bank in the 2019 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.”