Responsible business introduction
The year in brief
- Completed our second public submission for the Carbon Disclosure Project
- Won five customer service awards
- Invested £10.1 million in local community programmes
- Set up the Group Responsible Business Committee
- Formalised our Responsible Business Policy
- Retained our membership of FTSE4Good Index and JSE's Socially Responsible Investment Index
Ensuring sustainable growth
Without doubt, 2008 and 2009 have been two of the most challenging years that many of us in the financial services industry have experienced. But a sharp shock can provide necessary focus. We have used this experience to reevaluate the drivers behind our vision of delivering longterm sustainable success.
In the past year we have taken time to reexamine in particular what it means to be a responsible business and how we go about operating as one. We have not only developed new governance and management structures to deliver consistency across the Group; we have also considered how to build greater trust with our stakeholders. Our progress so far is evidenced by the fact that in 2009 Old Mutual South Africa was voted number one for 'Corporate Reputation' by Global Reputation Pulse and Nedbank was voted 'Socially Responsible Bank of the Year' at the African Banker Awards. As we move forward, I firmly believe that it is not enough to manage the risks we face related to our social and environmental impacts: our future success depends on how we can create opportunities by taking a more proactive approach.
Strengthening governance and risk management
During 2009, strengthening our governance and risk processes across the Group has been one of our strategic priorities. The details of this are explained in the risk section of the report but integrating the management of our social and environmental impacts into our approach was a central part of this process and will continue to be a focus for 2010. In 2008 we made a commitment to set up a new forum to focus on these issues; in 2009 we set up our Responsible Business Committee, which I chair. Through me, this new governance structure reports directly into the Group Executive Committee and gives the Group leadership and direction on being a truly responsible business.
In addition to our new governance structure for responsible business, we have also developed our Responsible Business Principles into a Groupwide policy: further details can be found in the sections that follow. This policy is now effective for all business units, driving greater consistency across the Group. For the first time, it includes a procurement policy defining what we expect of our suppliers and what our suppliers can expect from us, now and in the future. As we move forward we plan to revisit the policy regularly to ensure it meets both our, and our stakeholders', rising expectations.
Broader commitment to responsible business
In parallel with the changes to our governance and risk structures we have continued to look at the bigger picture and deliver on the commitments we have made as a Group. This has included our ongoing public commitment to addressing climate change through our support for the work of the UN as a signatory to the Copenhagen Communiqué. By better understanding our own impacts through our second public submission to the Carbon Disclosure Project we have been able to implement carbon reduction strategies across the Group.
We have also continued to pursue the principles outlined by the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anticorruption. During 2009, despite the global recession, we also maintained our investment in the communities and societies in which we operate particularly in South Africa, where we continue to play a vital role in the nation's economic transformation.
Stronger stakeholder engagement
Talking to our stakeholders, and understanding what matters to them, is always important; and it has never been more important to maintain ongoing dialogue and effective engagement than it was in 2009. We spent a lot of time and effort making sure that all our stakeholders, particularly customers and employees, had the information they needed. In 2010 we will be expanding the number and range of stakeholder dialogues, and formalising this process to ensure we focus on the issues and impact areas that drive sustainable growth.
Getting the right governance and risk management structures in place has been an important step forward for us in 2009. But we know there is still much for us to do. This year promises to be an exciting one, and we believe we are well positioned to continue achieving our aim of sustainable growth through responsible business.
Group Human Resources Director