In 2008, to take account of the multi-faceted nature of this area, DZ BANK assigned the coordination of its sustainability activities to the Communication, Marketing, and Sustainability division. The head of the division reports regularly to the Chief Executive Officer on the progress being made in specific areas. Since August 1, 2016, the sustainability team has consisted of Delia Kaiser, who has been DZ BANK AG’s sustainability coordinator since January 1, 2014, and Sabine Könner, formerly the sustainability coordinator at WGZ BANK AG. Together, they are responsible for sustainability management at the bank.
DZ BANK AG’s existing sustainability working group, which was formed in 2009, supports the sustainability team in its day-to-day management activities. This permanent committee consists of experts representing 13 different departments. They meet regularly to discuss the latest developments and to work on targets and proposals arising from discussions with entities in the DZ BANK Group and other stakeholders. In addition, they jointly formulate the objectives of the sustainability program and provide input on how to implement sustainability projects in the departments.
The sustainability team is also responsible for producing DZ BANK’s annual sustainability report. The 2014 publication came third in the CSR report category at last year’s Econ Awards for corporate communications. These prestigious awards, organized by the Handelsblatt Group and Econ Verlag publishing houses, were presented for the tenth time at the end of 2016. The panel of judges praised DZ BANK’s sustainability report for presenting the objectives and activities of the company in the field of sustainability in a credible and transparent manner.
DZ BANK’s 2014 sustainability report also scored highly in a 2016 ranking published by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), finishing in ninth place. The IÖW assessed the sustainability reports of around 120 companies when compiling its ranking.
Focal points, standards, and dialog processes
The merger of DZ BANK and WGZ BANK was very much the focus in 2016: We had to make preparations for consolidating and implementing the numerous sustainability initiatives as well as maintaining the quality of the existing processes.
In 2016, we also:
- Continued to work with the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken – the local cooperative banks – to help them push ahead with sustainability within their organizations. Workshops, bilateral talks, and discussions with the cooperative associations are the main tools that we use for this.
- Developed an online training course focused on sustainable lending.
- Provided advice and support for the new Pavillon Cityhaus II building in Frankfurt, which includes an inhouse daycare center.
- Expanded the level of collaboration within the DZ BANK Group, including via the Group Corporate Responsibility Committee.
- Broadened and intensified the dialog with sustainably minded investors, banks, and rating agencies.
- Applied the DZ BANK Research seal of approval for sustainability to publications in the field of bond research.
For 2017 we have undertaken to:
- Continue to provide advice and support to the cooperative banks, in particular through workshops.
- Publish guidelines that will inform the cooperatives about the implementation of sustainability activities and about the CSR reporting requirements coming into force from 2017.
- Invite further entities in the DZ BANK Group to work with the Corporate Responsibility Committee and to help the entities set up their own system for managing and reporting on sustainability.
- Continue developing the DZ BANK Group’s climate strategy.
- Commence our online training in sustainable lending.
Dialog with our stakeholders G4-18, G4-24, G4-25, G4-26, G4-27
DZ BANK actively seeks to engage with its stakeholders and believes it is important to maintain an ongoing dialog that is based on trust. This enables their interests, expectations, and experiences to be incorporated into the way that we operate as a business. These stakeholders include customers, employees, business partners, analysts, and investors as well as associations, the media, political decision makers, non-governmental organizations, and academia. The preferences of our stakeholders and the requirements that they have of DZ BANK are fundamental to our sustainability approach and strategy and also provide the framework for the content of this yearly report.
To effectively manage sustainability at DZ BANK, we need to have as deep an understanding as possible of our stakeholders’ social, environmental, and economic interests as well as their experiences and expectations. In 2015, the first groupwide stakeholder survey on our sustainability activities provided us with key information in this regard. This online survey of the DZ BANK Group entities builds on the DZ BANK survey of external and internal stakeholders that we carried out for the first time in 2012. It was conducted in addition to the ongoing dialog that we engage in with our stakeholders.
The groupwide stakeholder survey was based on the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). Our sustainability department used these guidelines to first establish the topics that were of relevance both to sustainability and to our stakeholders. We prioritized these topics in accordance with the principles of materiality and taking into account the results of the online survey and then validated them in internal workshops.
Industry leader in the CRI Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI)
In the Bertelsmann Foundation's latest CRI Corporate Responsibility Index, the DZ BANK is the best in its industry and is among the leading 10 percent of companies that have successfully integrated corporate responsibility activities into their business processes. In specific terms, this means:
- DZ BANK engages in regular dialog with its stakeholders.
- Corporate responsibility (CR) and sustainability are supported by senior management.
- CR measures and processes are defined within the bank.
- Target attainment is measured.
Launched in 2013 by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the University of Bayreuth, and concern GmbH, the CRI Corporate Responsibility Index investigates the factors that contribute to the success of corporate responsibility. A measurement and management tool is used to gauge the standard to which a company implements its corporate responsibility activities. The 2015 CRI surveyed 180 companies and so remains the largest study on the implementation of corporate responsibility in Germany. The survey covers various industries and includes major corporations as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. The survey for the next CRI Corporate Responsibility Index is being conducted in 2017.
On February 15, 2017, the third Conference for the Corporate Responsibility Index took place at DZ BANK in Frankfurt. On the initiative of the Bertelsmann Foundation, around 80 representatives of major corporations from a range of industries gathered to discuss the importance, the current challenges, and the future of communications in the field of sustainability.
For DZ BANK, customer satisfaction is of the utmost priority. Our most important customer group comprises the cooperative banks. As they are also the owners of DZ BANK, we feel particular solidarity and a sense of partnership with them. At the same time, we want to meet the needs of institutional investors and customers of the cooperative banks to the greatest possible degree. To this end, we actively engage in dialog with them.
We gauge our customers’ satisfaction and the trends affecting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by conducting regular surveys of our partner banks and companies. In addition, we ensure customer satisfaction by arranging events that traditionally provide opportunity for dialog and by using a quality management system. Like the awards we receive from independent organizations, these help our customers to build trust in the quality of our services.
Regular customer satisfaction survey
DZ BANK periodically surveys the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken – the local cooperative banks – to gauge their satisfaction with DZ BANK as a whole and with its individual departments. We postponed the survey planned for 2016 due to the merger of DZ BANK and WGZ BANK. The former WGZ BANK also carried out a customer satisfaction survey of its cooperative banks, doing so every three years. As part of the merger, we will consolidate the existing surveys into one.
Intensive dialog with cooperative banks
Using various dialog formats, we aim for two-way communication and dialog with the cooperative banks. Meetings of the regional Banking Advisory Councils and of the Financial Services Advisory Council have a particular strategic significance in this context.
Last year, we again stepped up the level of dialog with the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken – the local cooperative banks – on sustainability-related matters. In April 2016, for example, DZ BANK and WGZ BANK jointly organized the second sustainability workshop under the banner ‘Sustainability in the cooperative banks: Actively exploiting opportunities’, in which experienced experts gave around 40 participants from the cooperative banks and cooperative associations useful tips on sustainability management and how to structure a report. Three members of boards of managing directors reported on their own experiences of implementing sustainability in their banks. The workshop also focused on energy efficiency and the implementation of a sustainability strategy.
Many cooperative banks will soon be required to report on sustainability: From 2017, a company whose securities are admitted to trading on a regulated market in the EU and banks and insurance companies with more than 500 employees will have to disclose non-financial information concerning environmental matters, social and employee-related aspects, respect for human rights, and anti-corruption activities. We are recommending to the cooperative banks the German Sustainability Code (DNK) as a suitable standard for setting up a system for managing and reporting on sustainability.
In addition to the workshops, DZ BANK maintains regular contact with its customers and owners, the Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken – the local cooperative banks. And going forward, we will develop and offer new formats in order to further integrate the topic of sustainability into the cooperative structure.
The Group Corporate Responsibility Committee
In 2016, the entities of the DZ BANK Group – and particularly those looking to focus more heavily on sustainability management in the future – stepped up the degree to which they collaborate on sustainability topics. Among the main topics of the many meetings were standards, reporting, and how to organize, establish, and continuously improve a system of sustainability management. Dialog within the DZ BANK Group is also institutionalized in the Group Corporate Responsibility Committee (CRC). In 2016, WL BANK, formerly a subsidiary of WGZ BANK, and DVB BANK became permanent members of the committee. The Group CRC meets six times a year at DZ BANK to develop common policies and lending standards and to discuss other sustainability matters, including the ongoing development of a groupwide climate strategy.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
In 2016, DZ BANK also engaged in further dialog with NGOs. Going forward, we aim to intensify the contacts that we have made in discussions over recent years.
Friedrich Ebert Foundation information event
In November 2016, DZ BANK held an information event for current and former recipients of grants from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation who are based in the Rhine-Main region. Its theme was ‘Sustainability in a bank – is there such a thing?’. After a presentation about DZ BANK’s sustainability management system, the participants from various disciplines were given the opportunity to discuss their newly acquired insights and to ask questions.
Consultation with a wide range of stakeholders
In choosing which stakeholders to survey, we took account of their diversity and their relevance for us as a company. The following key points emerged:
- Among our most important stakeholders are the cooperative banks (which are both our customers and our owners), the corporate and retail customers of the group entities, and the employees of DZ BANK and the DZ BANK Group.
- Suppliers and service providers as well as trade associations and investors are highly relevant to us from a commercial perspective.
- We also listened to critical opinions from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and rating agencies as well as from academia and politics.
The 2015 survey covered five areas of action, each broken down into various topics, and was based on analyses of the prevailing social sustainability trends. With a response rate of 46 percent, it provided valuable input for core areas of our work and reporting systems.
The materiality matrix below provides an overview of the topics and their weighting.
The individual entities then carried out their own analysis of the groupwide results. At DZ BANK AG this was done in a workshop organized by the sustainability working group, in which representatives of various departments discussed the stakeholders’ answers and compared them with the company’s own perspective. The result is a materiality matrix that shows how much relevance the internal and external stakeholders assign to the different areas of action.
Implications for us as a business G4-18, G4-25, G4-26, G4-27
Our stakeholders’ opinions again underlined how important it is to strategically integrate sustainability into DZ BANK’s core business across all the areas of action. The respondents assigned the greatest relevance to sustainable corporate management and to sustainable products and services. Within these areas, they gave the highest scores to ‘cooperative principles and values’ and ‘corporate strategy and success’.
The results show that sustainable products and services, corporate social responsibility, and a business model that is based on cooperative values are particularly important for both employees and stakeholders. For DZ BANK, this means that we need to continue to integrate into our systems the principle of sustainability that lies at the core of the cooperative model. We will place it at the forefront of our business activities and continually align it with the cooperative values in order to meet our stakeholders’ expectations in terms of sustainability. We will also use the results of the survey as guiding principles when selecting the topics for our future sustainability reporting. The next stakeholder survey is planned for 2018. (G4-18, G4-25, G4-26)