The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Citi protects employees’ human rights

Citi is a leading global investment bank and financial services holding company supporting clients in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions, with a diverse workforce of 204,000 people serving over 110 million customers. Citi’s policies and commitments to respect human rights, such as its Statement on Human Rights, help protect its employees  Tweet This!, provide guidance to its suppliers and inform Citi’s business decisions.

This case study is based on the 2018 Global Citizenship Report by Citi published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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Every Citi employee is expected to adhere to Citi’s Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to human rights, and to participate in relevant training. Citi’s Code of Conduct prohibits unlawful discrimination, harassment and other behaviours that infringe on individual rights, and applies to all employees as well as suppliers, clients and community partners globally. In order to protect employees’ human rights Citi took action to:

  • promote diversity and inclusion
  • increase workplace gender and racial equality
  • promote freedom of association

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2018 Global Citizenship Report Citi identified a range of material issues, such as customer satisfaction, data security and privacy, talent attraction and development, diversity and equal opportunity. Among these, protecting employees’ human rights stands out as a key material issue for Citi.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Citi engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement



·      Group calls and meetings (quarterly earnings calls, investor conferences and Citi-hosted group meetings)

·      One-on-one meetings to discuss financial performance and ESG issues

·      Communications through Investor Relations and Corporate Governance teams

Government and Regulators



·      In-person meetings, conference calls, lobbying activities, industry associations, public policy forums, press conferences, conferences and convenings

·      Membership on government councils and committees




·      In-person meetings, calls, conferences and workshops

·      Corporate Responsibility Questionnaire to help assess management of ESG issues

Community Leaders and Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs)




·      In-person meetings, calls, conference calls, emails, social media and events

·      Specialised websites, including for the Citi Foundation and Citi Community Development

·      Collaboration with NGOs on issues relevant to their organisations and Citi’s business





·      Company intranet, email, mail and in-person meetings

·      Voice of the Employee surveys

·      Employee Networks, volunteer councils and Green Teams

·       Community events

·      In-person and online training

·      Performance reviews

·      Citi Blog

Clients and Customers


·      Meetings to share Citi’s environmental and social performance and to understand clients’ approach to managing environmental and social risks

·      Social media, including Customer Service Twitter handle (@AskCiti)

·      Customer satisfaction surveys

·      Citi Blog

Other Financial Institutions


·      Working groups

·      Joint projects

·      In-person meetings, conference calls

·      Industry groups, roundtables, workshops and events

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Citi carried out an online quantitative survey among more than 200 global external stakeholders and over 500 Citi managing directors.

What actions were taken by Citi to protect employees’ human rights?

In its 2018 Global Citizenship Report Citi reports that it took the following actions for protecting employees’ human rights:

  • Promoting diversity and inclusion
  • Diversity and inclusion issues are not always discussed in terms of human rights but they are essential to human dignity, which human rights aim to protect. Respect for diversity and inclusion is a high priority for Citi wherever it operates and can becomes a particular concern in countries where there is no legal protection against discrimination based on gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, religion, physical or mental disability or medical condition, or sexual orientation, in addition to a range of other essential characteristics inherent to identity and personhood. Citi prohibits discrimination and harassment of its employees in all forms, regardless of whether or not individual protections are legally mandated in the countries and communities where it operates.
  • Increasing workplace gender and racial equality
  • In 2018, recognising a need to increase diversity at all levels of the company, Citi established goals to increase the percentage of female employees globally and black colleagues in the U.S. in roles ranging from assistant vice president to managing director. Citi also signed the Business Statement for Transgender Equality and began expanding insurance coverage and other benefits already available to LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) partners in the U.S., to LGBT+ partners globally wherever such benefits are permitted by law. Additionally, working to provide a respectful and inclusive work environment, Citi investigates and takes action on all alleged violations and encourages employees with concerns to use Citi’s grievance mechanism, the Ethics Hotline, which is open to external parties and available in several formats and languages.
  • Promoting freedom of association
  • While the financial services industry is not heavily unionised, Citi does have unions or work councils in many of the countries where it operates. Approximately 12 percent of Citi’s employee population is covered by collective bargaining agreements and Citi engages directly with its employees through these associations to discuss issues such as health and safety, remuneration, work hours, training, career development, work time flexibility, and equal opportunity. Information related to freedom of association is communicated to employees through various mediums, including employee handbooks, Citi’s intranet and employee emails.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees

2) Disclosure 407-1 Operations and suppliers in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at risk


Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees corresponds to:

Disclosure 407-1 Operations and suppliers in which the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining may be at risk corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Freedom of association and collective bargaining


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

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1) This case study is based on published information by Citi, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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