RESPECT Index companies - Bank Millennium

RESPECT Index companies - Bank Millennium

Fernando Bicho, Member of the Management Board of Bank Millennium answers the questions about RESPECT Index and his company’s participation in the project:

What actions have permitted your Company to be in the elite group of 16 companies? Please give some examples to inspire others.

In 2010 Bank Millennium made a review of its activity in areas covered by the RESPECT Index questionnaire and created a list of issues to be solved and supplemented. These areas were regularly monitored. At the same time Bank Millennium decided that the annually published “Responsible Business” report will strive to attain standards consistent with the GRI reporting framework. At the same time to increase the quality of contacts with private investors, in 2010 Bank Millennium joined the “10 out of 10” programme of the   Inpidual Shareholders’ Association. 

Does your business sector facilitate or inhibit taking CSR initiatives?

The Bank, as an institution of public trust, naturally reflects in its mission statement the principles of transparent and ethical conduct. Hence the starting point is easier. However as a company, which employs several thousand people and provides services to over a million customers, we are governed by the same laws as any large business operator. This means the need to build CSR awareness in all areas and reflecting it in building the strategy. We assume this is a process rather than an effort to bring ad-hoc results.

What motivated your company to take part in the RESPECT survey? How do you expect to benefit from the project?

For a long time now Bank Millennium wanted to be perceived as a socially responsible bank. Since 2006 we have been publishing the special report “Responsible Business”, which is generally available on our website in the CSR section. Joining the group of RESPECT index companies was for us a natural consequence of previous actions. We believe that being part of the RESPECT Index is a confirmation of high standards, which is especially important for companies on our developing market. This is also an opportunity for the Bank to put our thoughts about CSR in order. Being part of the Index makes it easier for us to communicate with international companies and institutions from countries, in which CSR is a widespread concept. We hope that participation in the project will give us a competitive advantage and contribute to a positive perception among internal as well as external stakeholders.

In your Company, is development of CSR strategy and increase of investor interest correlated, do you think? 

Both specific as well as general questions about implementation of CSR actions get asked increasingly often in discussions with foreign investors, especially asset management companies. We realise that CSR comes as standard on mature markets and we are getting there. This put is in this respect in a “higher league”, though we know that our commitment to responsible business is a long-term investment. 

How well developed in Poland do you think CSR and investing responsibly are?

We are still among the rudiments and we can hardly speak of mass awareness of the need to carry out CSR actions. There are still too few examples to illustrate the relationship between CSR and real-life management. However one can see that CSR is becoming a “good trend” among those companies, which think strategically and want to build their long-term competitive advantage. We also see that fewer companies see social responsibility as a marketing or charity effort, but rather as part of their operational strategy. We also think that stakeholders (e.g. employees or customers) expect more about CSR in practice. For CSR to become a practical business tool, a company’s business environment also needs to be able to and want to choose between “ethical” and “unethical” products. Now this is a major mindset change on the market, where price remains crucial, so it will take time. For now, in Poland there is but one fund, which invests in keeping with then principles of responsible investing. The Respect Index project appears to be another step forward, especially as WSE is to shortly propose adequate instruments for responsible investing.