Social, responsible, sustainable – these are the new buzz words when it comes to conducting business. We hear and read them every day in the news, more in reference to how things should be than to how things actually are. Corporate social responsibility was first conceived as a kind of separate wing of the enterprise, where it engaged in activities purported to serve society. But now society demands enterprises integrate the values behind such activities into their core business.
As a consequence of the financial crisis, regulators and customers are rediscovering the stakeholder value model of “dual bottom line” banks, such as savings and retail and cooperative banks. They, unlike banks wedded to the shareholder value model, are not driven exclusively by profit; they’re on a “social mission” that is a product of their historical origins. And yet they’re as efficient as purely profit-driven financial institutions.
Socially committed banks have developed business principles to act in a fair, transparent, risk-cautious manner vis-à-vis their clients and contribute to the welfare of the citizen and of their region. These principles address what went wrong in the banking sector in recent years and emphasize excellence in governance, client relationships, fair products and services, risk-free investment, financial inclusion, respect for the environment, financial education, community involvement, fair employment and macro-economic stability.