Stakeholders are defined as those people or groups of people that have a justified interest in the company through their direct or indirect business activities. Stakeholders are therefore employees, customers, owners, subsidiaries and participations, suppliers and business partners. There are also several other stakeholder groups with regular mutual relations.
We process the results and controversial topics from stakeholder dialogues in our sustainability committees and derive corresponding concrete objectives and measures for further development of our sustainability management.
The identification of relevant and sensitive issues takes place though regular effective dialogue with stakeholders. In particular, this is the role of Issue Management and Materiality analysis. In addition to regular dialogues with the different stakeholder groups, we analyse and evaluate topics every two to three years with regard to their relevance for us and our stakeholders. We process the results and controversial topics from stakeholder dialogues in our sustainability committees and derive corresponding concrete objectives and measures for further development of our sustainability management.
Exciting discussions at 7th Stakeholder Council
In November 2016, 75 people from various stakeholder groups (customers and business partners, employees and owners, and representatives from the financial world and rating agencies, education and research, special interest agencies, media, politics and administration, NGOs and NPOs) participated in the RZB Group’s Stakeholder Council. Six workshop groups presented fascinating insights.
Representing RZB board member Michael Höllerer, Paul Pasquali from the Management Secretariat welcomed the guests. He emphasized the importance of sustainability as a guiding principle for entrepreneurial and future-oriented action. His remarks were followed by a presentation by Andrea Sihn-Weber, division head of the RZB Group’s Sustainability Management, about what has been achieved since the last Stakeholder Council and which projects are currently being implemented. The workshop groups were tasked with discussing the following topics: “Sustainable investments and engagement activities”, “Raising awareness for employees”, “Effects of the Climate Conference”, “Investments in the community”, “Diversity in the core business – the effects of societal transformation”, and “Sustainability in the supply chain.”
During the round table on “Sustainable investments and engagement activities”, the development of sustainable investments, from exclusionary and positive criteria to new instruments such as engagement, impact and divestment were explained, with the perspective of climate being seen as a top priority. The group agreed that growing interest in this topic among customers could offer an opportunity to build greater trust. In this context, it was proposed that customers should be better informed about sustainability topics related to investment, through a direct dialogue.
The “Raising awareness for employees” group focused on questions regarding the improvement in awareness of sustainability topics among employees in the context of general information overload, and how we can move from sharing knowledge to proactive action. They found that both positive and negative topics should be addressed in the spirit of transparent communication. For example, the idea of a think tank on the subject of “Developing sustainable products” came up in the discussion.
In the workshop on “Effects of the Climate Conference”, participants worked on the upcoming challenges that the consequences of climate change present to banks. In order to attain the 2-degree target determined in Paris in late 2015 (entailing an 80 or 95 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, meaning almost complete decarbonisation), banks may not provide any financing to companies in the fossil fuel industry in the future. Yet, such restrictions only make sense for the finance sector if all banks act together. There was a desire for clear guidelines for financing by the RZB Group, as well as for an expansion of climate policy.
There was also an intensive discussion about “Investments in the community”. Starting from the question of today’s most pressing societal challenges with which the RZB Group should engage, the participants prioritized the topics of education (especially finance education) and integration, thereby also prioritising the value of “help to self-help”. The subject of Corporate Volunteering (CV) was discussed in this context, with a focus on the support of unaccompanied minor refugees in the “Haus Roshan” project. It was decided that only strategic Corporate Volunteering can contribute to the company’s success.
The subject of “Diversity in the core business – the effects of societal transformation on the core business of the banking world” was addressed by another group, as it is clear that the banking world is changing along with its customer groups. It is important to respond to this with a variety of perspectives and with well-founded experience. Instead of ignoring needs, they must be recognised and made useful for the business. The creative idea of a “financial butler” was developed, aimed at people who find it difficult to deal with today’s technology adequately. Existing organisational boundaries should be dissolved in order to effect a cultural change and make diversity a core element in strategic development.
The sixth group, which focused on “Sustainability in the supply chain”, discussed the challenge of getting metrics from suppliers that enable an assessment of environmental impact. Discussion topics included the importance of benchmarks and the formation of clusters of small suppliers. From the supplier side, the effort (and cost) of acquiring certifications was discussed. Finally, the advantages of long-term relationships with suppliers was emphasised.
Once more, the discussions at the Stakeholder Council brought forward many suggestions for further development.
On 18 November 2015, seventy people from various stakeholder groups (in the areas of customers and business partners, employees and owners, financial world and rating agencies, education and research, special interest agencies, media, politics and administration, NGOs and NPOs) participated in the sixth Stakeholder Council of the RZB Group. In his speech Johannes Schuster, the chairman of the executive board at RZB, emphasised the significance of sustainability as a guiding principle for entrepreneurial and future-oriented action. He stated that it was not always easy to find the right balance, due to challenging global developments. He referred to the “Agenda 2030” for sustainable development, which had recently been passed by the community of states. Aside from social and economic development, its “sustainable development goals” also include ecological sustainability along with many other aspects that are not just globally significant but also important for the RZB Group.
He also addressed the so-called “NFI Directive” for the mandatory sustainability reporting in the EU, which has been in effect since October 2014. He said that the RZB Group was already performing substantial sustainability reporting that showed which comprehensive activities were implemented in the previous year. What mattered, however, was not the quantity but the quality of the content and measures.
The largest factor concerning sustainability rests on the core business, and there was still much to be done here. His remarks were followed by a presentation by Andrea Sihn-Weber, head of RZB's Sustainability Management about what has been achieved since the last Stakeholder Council and which projects are currently being implemented.
Guest speaker with food for thought
The event was titled “Fit for the future through sustainability”. The guest speaker Franz-Josef Radermacher, internationally renowned sustainability expert, shared the aspects that he associates with these keywords in a half-hour long keynote that the audience received with great interest. With quotes such as “The world has enough for everyone’s needs but not for everyone’s greed” (M. Gandhi), theses such as “We’re driving into the wall at full throttle, but we’re certified,” and statements like “fighting poverty is now only possible at the expense of climate protection,” he provoked deep thoughts and discussions. There was also a generous dose of criticism: In theory, we could solve the climate problem – he stated – but we would probably not do that. This is because for decades we haven’t managed to agree on obligatory goals that promote innovation, a change of behaviour and true pricing. Additionally, the sustainability development goals are non-binding and there are no corresponding financial resources and persons in charge. The only chance would be a shared global governance communication to the effect that the economy would only have a future if it were regulated ecologically and socially.
Sustainability in the core business of the banking sector
Several groups discussed various issues on this topic in workshops. One of the discussion topics was the corporation’s requirement in terms of sustainability in the banking sector and a possible way for the RZB Group to handle this. The influence of the sustainable added value process of a bank, along with concrete approaches for the RZB Group, were also a highlights. The question of the commitment by the RZB Group to national and European (political) governance issues was addressed in an open discussion round. Because of its topicality, another key discussion topic was the integration of the global sustainable development goals (starting with the UN Sustainable Development Goals) in the core business.
The Stakeholder Council of the RZB Group was held for the fifth time in Vienna on November 12, 2014, in which 65 people from various stakeholder groups (customers and business partners, employees and owners, the world of finance and rating agencies, education and research, interest groups, media, policymakers and administration, NGOs and NPOs) as well as representatives from the Managing Boards of RZB AG and RBI AG paricipated.
After the welcoming remarks by the board director Johann Strobl, Andrea Weber, Head of Sustainability Management of the RZB Group, presented the actions and measures taken since the last Stakeholder Council.
Topics of the future
In the run-up to the Stakeholder Council 2014, a focus group with 20 internal and external experts was held for the first time on the topic of “RZB Group 2025: Sustainable Future Scenarios and Strategies”. The results of this focus group were presented and discussed in the Stakeholder Council. This measure taken was in answer to the wish for more inclusion of stakeholders throughout the year, which was expressed at the previous year’s Stakeholder Council, as well as the wish for more in-depth handling of topics relating to sustainability and future viability.
The questions addressed by the focus group in moderated workshops were:
- What topics must a banking group deal with in order to remain viable in the future?
- What opportunities and risks arise from this, and what recommendations can be derived for the RZB Group in order for it to do business sustainably and successfully up to the year 2025?
A summary of the insights and recommendations from the focus group was presented at the Stakeholder Council 2014 by Brigitte Jandl, Head of RBI Investment Finance. Last point on the agenda of the Stakeholder Council was a podium discussion by high-level experts on the topic of “The future of the banking industry”. Reinhard Friesenbichler (CEO of rfu Unternehmensberatung) moderated the discussion by Eveline Balogh (Director of Organization, Construction, Environment and Safety at Österreichische Kontrollbank), Peter Lennkh (Member of the RBI AG Managing Board responsible for Corporate Banking), Johannes Schuster (Member of the RZB AG Managing Board) and Leo Seiler (CEO of Seiler Asset Management GmbH).
Another new aspect of the event was a materiality and impact assessment concerning the effects and opportunities of a model sustainability management system in the RZB Group in the form of interactive real-time voting.
"We create sustainable value through dialogue" - under this motto the fourth Stakeholder Council of the RZB Group took place on 20 November.
The prescribed subjects of discussion in the fields of action as responsible banker, fair partner and engaged citizen were:
- Expectations towards sustainable products
- Opportunites and innovation management as well as risk management
- Favoured further stakeholder involvement
- Creation of awareness of sustainability among employees as well as in society
- Social Entrepreneurship
More than sixty participants worked on those seven topics. The main focus was on identifying the challenges for which answers should be found over the next three years. To work out best practice examples was a further objective.
Subsequently representatives of internal and external stakeholder groups were available for a panel discussion.
Many of the constructive inputs of the participants will be included in the sustainability program 2014 after analysis and evaluation.
The RZB Group sent out invitations for the third dialogue forum, the Stakeholder Council, which was held on 30 November 2012. The objective of this Council was to inform stakeholders about and discuss the strategic understanding with which the company perceived its corporate responsibility. In concrete terms, the Council looked at how this understanding can be developed with regard to the expectations and demands of the RZB Group stakeholders. The participants were required to be actively involved and to work on concrete ideas and recommendations as to how the RZB Group can improve performance in individual sustainability areas.
Afterwards these sustainability topics were evaluated with regard to their materiality and their perceived performance.
This was conducted with a comprehensive online survey.
During the Stakeholder Council a graphic visualisation of our strategy was produced:
RZB Group’s second Stakeholder Council took place in 2011. Various representatives of our stakeholder groups discussed the sustainability of the economic and financial system in a workshop. Rebuilding trust in the financial sector was identified as a key issue for the future.
Results of the online-survey 2016
Around 3,000 stakeholders were invited in January and February 2016 to take part in our online survey “Materiality in Focus”. The stakeholders were asked to assess the topics we derived from the topic map in terms of their materiality.
For the first time, the survey addressed not only stakeholders from Austria but also stakeholders from 13 countries of our network banks (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo,Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia). Poland and Slovenia did not participate in the survey. A total of 2,915 internal and external stakeholders were invited to take the survey, of which 1,423 were from Austria and 1,492 from our network banks. The international stakeholders encompassed representative persons from our stakeholder groups.
The stakeholders were asked to evaluate the eight most important topics identified on the basis of the topic map by assigning a total of five points to them in any weighting they chose. Next, the focus on the following prioritized topics was sharpened by evaluating sub-topics using the same system:
- Work environment
- Inhouse ecology
- Commitment to society and the environment
- Sustainable products and services
- Organizational management
We interpret the fact that the stakeholders did not mention any further aspects either for the main or the subtopics as meaning that no key topics were missing. On the other hand, the fact that each topic and sub-topic was prioritized by the stakeholders with points shows that the topics mentioned are seen as material.
A total of 736 stakeholders took part in the online survey “Materiality in Focus” conducted at the beginning of 2016, of which 366 were from Austria and 370 from the countries of the network banks in CEE. We can therefore consider the survey as representative for the evaluation and assessment of materiality and for the derivation of future measures.
The materiality matrix provides the following picture of the topics perceived as most relevant by our internal and external stakeholders:
When interpreting the matrix, it should be noted that only topics already identified as material were asked about when it came to awarding points. On the basis of the evaluation method, whereby the total of five points could be given to the eight topics in any weighting, it must be remembered when interpreting the matrix that this was not a “material/non-material” survey. The evaluation shows how the topics are assessed compared to each other, although in principle all of them are important.
For the evaluation of the sub-topics for the top three main topics of the online survey (Sustainable products, Work environment, Commitment to society and the environment) please see pages 25-28 of the sustainability report 2015.
The greatest challenges for sustainable and sucessful company development over the short term (top 5 answers):
Advantages of a consistently followed sustainability management system embedded in the core business (top 5 answers):
Ranking of the stakeholder groups according to their impact on the sustainability of the RZB Group (top 5 answers):
Medium- to long-term orientation: Topics to sustainability with the greatest impact on the RZB Group up to 2025 (top 4 answers):
- ... with a focus on "poeple and their needs":
- ... with a focus on "market trand, new business models and new technologies":
- ... with a focus an "changes in general conditions, policy and governance":
Impacts on sustainability management
The results of our stakeholder surveys are reflected in our materiality analysis and are integrated into our sustainability management alongside the results from focus groups, discussions with experts and the annual Stakeholder Council. At the Stakeholder Council and within the context of our reporting, we share information about the progress we have achieved in our sustainability performance. Our objective is to transparently disclose the most important expectations and recommendations of the stakeholders as well as our responses and associated measures. Here as well, we focus primarily on those topics and aspects that have been identified as material by us and the stakeholder groups.
Online survey 2013
Based on the output of the Stakeholder Council 2012, we carried out a detailed survey in February 2013.
The aim was to get stakeholders to reflect on our sustainability strategy, to prioritise important sustainability topics as well as to evaluate our sustainability performance. Over a period of three weeks, over 600 internal and external stakeholders were given the opportunity to participate in the survey.
The response rate of around 20 percent shows our stakeholders’ high level of interest in communicating with us. It can be considered to represent an evaluation and assessment of services in the period under review and be used to derive future measures.
The priority areas were divided according to the three pillars of our sustainability strategy: responsible banker, fair partner, engaged citizen. In total, 44 individual topics were assessed for prospective materiality and latest performance.
Three most important topics
The following three topics were considered the most important by both external and internal stakeholders:
- Compliance and anti-corruption
- Protection of customer data
- Guaranteeing security and liquidity
All three topics were also attested to have very high performance.
Most important topics for internal stakeholders
Under the top 10 most important topics for internal stakeholders were:
- Basic and continuous training of employees and employee development
- Employee health and happiness
- Diversity, equal opportunities and fair pay
- Work-life balance and combining professional and family commitments
Bringing more sustainability into core business is one of the RZB Group’s most important topics for the future. Our stakeholders have confirmed this and given us a clear mandate for further development. A sustainable company needs employees that have a broad awareness of sustainability and corporate responsibility. All stakeholders have given us the mandate to further develop ourselves in this area. These topics provide the essential building blocks for further actions to be taken.