DBS issues standalone sustainability report, first Singapore bank to do so
Expands on approach to sustainability, which is based on responsible banking,
responsible business practices and creating social impact
SINGAPORE, HONG KONG, CHINA, INDIA, INDONESIA, TAIWAN, 28 March 2019 – In line with its commitment to advancing the sustainability agenda as a purpose-driven bank, DBS today issued its inaugural standalone sustainability report, the first Singapore bank to do so. The report provides an expanded account on progress made in supporting the United Nations’ set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and material sustainability matters over the past year.
DBS’ approach to sustainability is based on three pillars – (i) Responsible banking, (ii) Responsible business practices and (iii) Creating social impact. Within these pillars, the bank has chosen to focus on six SDGs, namely SDG 5 – gender equality, SDG 7 – affordable and clean energy, SDG 8 – decent work and economic growth, SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production and SDG 13 climate action.
In the Sustainability Report, DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said that some of the challenges facing the world – challenges in the developmental, social and environmental space – are enormous and complex. “It is our firm belief that companies such as ours have a central role to play in seeking to find solutions to these challenges. Our licence to operate comes from civil society, and we need to ensure that we are addressing the needs of multiple stakeholders, not just for our generation but for generations to come. Our approach to sustainability is guided by this sense of purpose: to create value for the long term, by managing our business in a balanced and responsible way.”
He also reflected that in seeking an appropriate balance, the bank is mindful that more often than not, there are numerous trade-offs that need to be made. As an example, there are inherent trade-offs even in some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with the quest for improvement in basic living conditions sometimes coming at the cost of environmental degradation. “These trade-offs must be carefully evaluated as the solutions are often not binary.”
Progress made by the bank in its sustainability efforts is summarized below:
Pillar 1: Responsible banking – delivering products and services that promote sustainable development and conducting business in a fair and responsible manner. Some examples:
- In the area of responsible financing, DBS provided sustainability financing amounting to more than SGD 2.4 billion in 2018. This included green loans, sustainability performance-linked loans and renewable energy financing.
- In the area of climate change, the bank is committed through its business activities to promote an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy, while balancing the need for economic growth and social inclusion. As an example, it supported clients’ issuances such as Start Energy’s Wayang Windu geothermal green project bond and the State Bank of India’s maiden green bond.
- In the area of digital finance, DBS has joined the Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance and the UN Task Force on Digital Financing for SDGs. These collaborations address the potential for fintech-powered business innovations to reshape the financial system in ways that better align with the needs of sustainable development.
- In support of the financial inclusion agenda, through the years, DBS has lent a total of SGD 38 billion to SMEs. DBS’ social enterprise (SE) banking package also offers SEs unsecured business loans at a preferential rate of 5% fixed per annum. In Singapore, the bank is the bank of choice for many migrant workers, and waives fees for ex-offenders to help their reintegration into society.
Pillar 2: Responsible business practices – doing the right thing by employees and taking into account environmental and societal considerations in day-to-day business operations. Some examples:
- In support of diversity and equal opportunity, DBS seeks to create a workplace that is supportive of employees as they grow and thrive in different aspects of their lives. In 2018, the bank enhanced its parenthood leave which includes maternity, paternity and adoption. It also introduced neonatal care leave for employees who require additional support when their child is born prematurely. For the second year running, the bank was included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.
- In the area of sustainable procurement, DBS requires all new suppliers to be reviewed against its Sustainable Source Principles (SSP), which outlines the expectations the bank has of its suppliers in four key areas – human rights, health and safety, environmental sustainability, as well as business integrity and ethics. In 2018, 99.6% of new suppliers signed their commitment to support DBS’ SSP.
Pillar 3 – Creating social impact – being a Force for Good by supporting social enterprises – businesses with a dual bottom line – and giving back to the communities. Some examples:
- In the area of social entrepreneurship, the DBS Foundation awarded SGD 1.25 million in grants to 12 SEs through the SE Grant Programme in 2018. The programme enables social enterprises to develop a prototype of their idea, add critical capabilities for business sustainability, or scale up existing businesses, leading to greater social impact. In 2018, DBS employees also mentored more than 50 SEs across its six core markets to help scale their businesses.
- On employee volunteerism, through DBS’ “People of Purpose” volunteerism movement, in 2018, employees spent more than 65,000 hours helping to drive impact in the areas of ageing, education and the environment. The total value of time committed is estimated to be over SGD 6 million since 2014.
WateROAM, a DBSF grant awardee which develops highly portable water filtration systems for communities in rural regions and disaster-hit sites said that it had benefitted greatly from being involved with the ecosystem of SEs supported by DBSF.
David Pong, CEO of WateRoam said, “At each gathering organised by the Foundation, we exchanged precious lessons learnt from our different social enterprise journeys, and never failed to walk away with a greater sense of encouragement for the journey ahead. Being a DBSF grant awardee has truly allowed us to achieve our vision of ending global thirst with much more effectiveness.”
DBS’ inaugural standalone Sustainability Report can be read here
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. Source here
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