Taking our responsibilities seriously
As a bank, we have a big responsibility, not only to our customers but also to society, to contribute to financial stability and the economy.
We have an obligation to look after money – both our customers’ and our own. We also have a responsibility to advise our customers on opportunities that arise and on the attendant risks in a complex, globalised economy.
But the responsibilities of a contemporary bank go beyond that. We must also help create a sustainable society. We therefore set high standards for social responsibility in our business – from lending and investment to climate and the environment – and in how we help individuals understand and manage their personal finances.
We focus particularly on children and young people. Since 2007, we have invested more than DKK 60 million in financial literacy programmes for them. We are making this effort to increase financial literacy among the young mainly in order to educate the bank customers of the future – for their own sake as well as that of Danske Bank and society in general.
Many young adults today are unsure whether they can take responsibility for their personal finances. We have therefore, in collaboration with leading experts, developed a number of online games and teaching materials for children and young people from the ages of five to 27.
Learning tools to strengthen financial literacy among children/young people
Moneyville is a site for 5-9 year-olds, where they can play their way to knowledge about money, and since 2013 it has also been an app. Today the game has more than 5.9 million users.
In school, maths teachers can use the Control Your Money website to teach 10-15 year-olds about balancing income and expenses and other financial matters.
All of our programmes have been developed in collaboration with external experts, and the initiatives for children and young people under 18 are completely free of brand logos ,because of course we do not market directly to children.
The older children become, the more important it is for them to understand the consequences of their financial decisions. We address this in Dream On, an online game where 15-18 year-olds can compete against each other and gain a greater understanding of sound personal finances.
Finally, there is Mind Your Money, for 18-27 year-olds. It consists of a website, where young adults can acquire financial knowledge and get advice, and also a Facebook page, where they can ask about financial considerations. The page has more than 30,000 users.
As a supplement to our programmes for children, we have also launched a site for parents with children 18 and under. The site gives parents ideas about how to talk with their children about money and finances. It also offers answers to questions that may arise when a teenager starts an after-school job, for example, or when it is time to move out of the home.
We also sponsor a programme for help with homework through the voluntary organisation Matematikcenter (Mathematics Centre); we support the Børnehjælpdagen collection through the Ungdomsværn project, in which young people collect money and manage the finances of their own project; we hold talks on personal finance for primary and secondary school pupils; and we provide debt advisory service for the socially disadvantaged at the YMCA and the Christian Students’ Settlement organisation.
We are aware that other customers besides young people might also need a little extra help. The increasing digitalisation of society and innovations at the Bank mean that our older customers need to start using the Bank in a new way. The Danish local authorities face the same challenge and are also in the midst of a comprehensive conversion to digital solutions.
Step-by-step meetings and focus on senior citizens
Danske Bank has been helping customers get better at self-service for several years. For elderly customers who have experience with IT, we offer instruction on using eBanking, and if the eBanking system proves difficult, advisers on our 24/7 support hotline are always ready to help.
We are always working to make our solutions even more user-friendly. In 2014, we launched a simpler version of eBanking, Letbank (Easy Bank), which is more accessible for the elderly and the handicapped. We also launched Kontantkortet (Cash Card), which is intended to help customers with special needs who face challenges in using conventional credit and debit cards.'
But we want to reach even more people, so we have launched additional initiatives for senior citizens. In collaboration with 50 local authorities in Denmark, we are holding “Step-by-step” meetings in which we explain and teach them how to use our various self-service options. So far, 2,000 people have registered for the meetings, which are open to everyone.
Since 2007, Danske Bank Group has had a climate strategy that contains both short- and long-term climate targets.
The strategy is updated regularly and focuses on opportunities to confront the climate challenge in our financial business and operations as well as through dialogue with stakeholders. The strategy focuses on three areas where the Group can have a positive effect on climate: our own operations, our business and the dissemination of knowledge.
The Group aims for carbon neutrality through two activities:
1. Energy-efficient operations
We intend to reach carbon neutrality mainly by reducing the Group's own energy consumption. We will achieve this through an optimisation of energy consumption in buildings, the purchase of energy-efficient IT and office equipment, and improved energy efficiency from behavioural change and a reduction in business travel.
2. Offsetting emissions
Since it is not possible to operate a business without consuming a certain amount of energy, for example in heating, cooling and transport, it is not possible eliminate the Group's CO2 emissions entirely. The emissions we cannot eliminate by optimising our operations will be offset by the purchase of carbon credits for projects that guarantee a real reduction of CO2 emissions.
We believe that much talent will be lost if we do not pay attention to the balance between men and women in management positions. We have therefore decided that at least 50% of new appointments to management positions in Denmark will go to women. We met this target in 2012, and we intend to maintain this level in the future.
More women in management
In 2010, we signed the Danish Charter for More Women in Management. And to make sure that we achieve a higher proportion of women managers by developing the most talented potential managers, we have also set a target for the development of this group of employees.
Our ambition is to increase the proportion of women who are appointed successors to executive managers, and gender is now a permanent aspect of succession work. We have also set a target for the percentage of women in our management development programme. In 2012, this goal was added to the performance agreements of several members of the Executive Board. In 2013, we set targets of 12.5% women on the Executive Board and 25% women on the Board of Directors. In addition, we have set an overall target for female managers of 38%. We expect to reach these goals before 2017.
Our work to ensure diversity is comprehensive and serious. It is not just a matter of appointing a woman to the Executive Board. Increasing the number women in management is a large challenge – not only at Danske Bank but also at the large majority of Danish companies – and we are working hard to address this by developing talented female leaders.
At Danske Bank Group, we believe that responsible behaviour is a precondition for long-term value creation in a company. As a financial services provider, we are aware that this has special relevance in the investment of our own and our customers’ funds.
Since 2008, we have had a process that ensures that we do not make investments in companies that violate international principles such as human rights, labour rights and environmental conventions. Danske Bank Group has also endorsed the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment.
Screening investment portfolios
Danske Bank screens its investment portfolios according to a number of internationally recognised standards and guidelines for human rights, arms, working conditions, the environment and anti-corruption. The screening is performed by Ethix SRI Advisors, which is an independent consultancy that specialises in socially responsible investing.
If a company violates our guidelines, we initiate a dialogue with its management to find out whether they plan to change the company’s behaviour. The dialogue determines whether we sell or retain the investment. Twice a year we publish a list of the companies that we have excluded and the reason for their exclusion.
We grant loans and credits on the basis of a professional credit assessment, and we make a careful evaluation in order to understand the individual customer's financial situation.
It is in both the Group's and the customer's interest that credit is extended only when the customer can manage the obligation. This means that in some cases the Group must refrain from extending loans to customers.
Since mid-2011, we have cross-checked our credit exposure against the Group’s SRI exclusion list. The Group generally offers loans to all businesses that are creditworthy and comply with the applicable laws, including environmental laws. This approach in no way conflicts with the Group’s desire to generate the best possible return for investors from investments and lending.
In 2013, we started developing guidelines to include the assessment of environmental, social and ethical (ESE) risks in our credit assessment of business customers. The measures are intended to ensure that we grant credit only when the borrower complies with our standards for responsibility.
Some sectors entail a higher risk of violations of recognised conventions and standards than others. In 2013, we therefore started developing sector-specific policies to assess the ESE risks in these sectors.
This is only a selection of our corporate responsibility activities. Social responsibility is one of the four focus areas in Danske Bank’s new strategy for the next three years. You can follow the developments at danskebank.com/csr.