Getting to common ground
According to the Oxford dictionary, sustainability is:
The avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.
This definition often takes the form of strategies within organizations and businesses looking to make a greener, better world as they communicate to stakeholders their sense of corporate responsibility.
Environmental sustainability often refers to conserving the world’s natural resources to support the viability of the planet now and in the future.
Interest in these initiatives is taking hold inside organizations across industries, and banking is no exception — in fact, according to a report by
Mobiquity, 98% of U.S. banks surveyed say they are prioritizing sustainability as part of their business strategy.
The need for meaningful measures
As financial institutions look to advance and promote sustainability actions, stakeholders expect more than platitudes and social media posts on the topic. Operational and financial improvements are depicted in meaningful metrics and sustainability initiatives
should be highlighted with the same specificity and data.
An example of such specificity in a different area of banking is found in a recent Financial Brand article on the impact of digital wallets on the underbanked.
As Charlotte Principato notes:
“Beyond the alternative financial services that define them as underbanked,” Principato continues, “these adults are more likely to use digital wallets than the general population (89% compared with 64%), to have made a purchase using the ‘buy now,
pay later’ in the past year.”
Today many of the underbanked are not underserved but serving themselves via recognized partners who leverage embedded banking as a service within unique applications.
Keys to effective sustainability metrics
Take a broad view of your current initiatives
To start developing meaningful metrics, first review what your organization is doing to achieve a greener world. Have you reduced energy consumption in your branches? Do you have water conservation programs in your offices?
Many local initiatives may go unnoticed at headquarters, so cast a broad net to learn what’s going on in all your institution’s offices and uncover what measures of success these locations are using.
Leverage your bank’s internal communications tools: such as newsletters, websites, and surveys to thoroughly search and document sustainability initiatives and to share successes within your organization.
Determine accountability for sustainability metrics
Name a person or team within your institution responsible for generating and tracking sustainability successes and metrics. You don’t need to go as far as a Chief Sustainability Officer (if you are not a large bank), but your entire team
needs to know to whom metrics must be provided, how often they need to report them, and the consequences for missing reporting deadlines.
Learn from others
Regional and community banks that may lack traction with sustainability initiatives or reporting can learn from their larger technology partners how these firms report on the progress of their green plans. These measures are often published in public documents
for shareholders and customers. And the metrics and strategies within them provide good starting points.
2021 FIS Global Sustainability Report
Beyond technology partners, other businesses in your bank’s footprint may have metrics they use to measure sustainability specific to your locale. Research and read their material to expand your institution’s metrics in a way that will become more meaningful
for your local stakeholders.
Additional benefits of sustainability
Sustainable banks are purpose-led organizations that inspire their employees – and even their customers – to help deliver lasting financial performance, equitable impact, and societal value that earns and retains the trust of all stakeholders.
This financial lasting performance is highlighted in a new sustainability report from Accenture that found:
“Leadership teams that build sustainability into the DNA of their organizations are better able to deliver financial value and wider stakeholder impact. In fact, those with the most deeply embedded sustainability management practices outperform peers
by 21% on both profitability and positive environmental and societal outcomes.”
This type of metric offers a concrete example of the value sustainability provides to your bank, and what all organizations can aspire to.
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