Taking our responsibility 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, to 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 the 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. Today the site has more than 4 million users. In school, maths teachers can use the Control Your Money site 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 we of course do not conduct direct marketing towards children.
The older children become, the more important it is for them to understand the consequences of their financial decisions. We address this issue in Dream On, an online game where 15-18 year-olds can compete against each other and thus gain a greater understanding of sound personal finances. Finally, there is Mind Your Money, a site for 18-27 year-olds. Mind Your Money also has a Facebook page where more than 11,000 young people get financial tips and advice from three young Danske Bank advisers.
As a supplement to our programmes for children, we have also launched a site for parents of children and young people up to 18. The site gives parents ideas about how to talk with their children about money and finances. And it 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 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 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 2013, we will begin developing a simpler version of eBanking that is more accessible for the elderly and the handicapped.
But we want to reach even more people, so we are launching 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.
On the environmental front, we work consistently to reduce of environmental impact, For example, we have been carbon neutral since 2009. In order to do this, we have worked steadily to reduce our own CO2 omissions. In 2010, we set a target of reducing the Group’s electricity consumption 20% by the end of 2014, and we are already very close to reaching it.
We offset the amount of CO2 emissions that we cannot eliminate by investing in carbon credits from projects that produce renewable energy. The main objective, however, is to reduce our own emissions, for financial as well as environmental reasons.
Investments in carbon credit projects
From 2009 to 2011, we invested DKK 22.7 million in carbon credit projects in India, Turkey, Lithuania and elsewhere, and we plan to invest an additional DKK 16 million in the period until 2014. The projects were carefully chosen so that, besides promoting renewable energy and reducing CO2 emissions, they also advance social sustainability in these countries, for example by creating jobs in the region.
In addition, since 2007 we have made an effort to serve organic food in our canteens, and we have become one of the large private purchasers of organic produce in Denmark. Along with a number of other companies, we have also set up a network to promote eco-labelled purchasing.
We believe that much talent will be lost if we do not pay attention to the distribution 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 have 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, which obliges us to set targets for the number of women we retain and recruit for the Group's management positions. The target is 22% women in the Group's top management.
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, specialised SRI consultant.
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.
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.