The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How Hang Seng promotes employee engagement

Case study: How Hang Seng promotes employee engagement

Founded in 1933, Hang Seng is one of Hong Kong’s largest listed companies and leading domestic bank. Recognising that its staff are the engine of its success and the primary bridge between Hang Seng’s business and the local community, Hang Seng seeks to create a work environment that promotes employee engagement  Tweet This!, champions diversity and an inclusive culture, and empowers staff to perform at their best.

This case study is based on the 2019 Corporate Sustainability Report by Hang Seng 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.

Layout 1Abstract

Hang Seng is committed to listening to and learning from its people, recognising them as individuals with a diverse set of strengths, needs and motivations. In order to promote employee engagement Hang Seng took action to:

  • implement the You Matter programme
  • launch a mobile app
  • conduct an employee survey
  • organise exchange meetings

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Corporate Sustainability Report Hang Seng identified a range of material issues, such as customer privacy, anti-corruption, financial inclusion, non-discrimination, climate change mitigation and adaptation. Among these, promoting employee engagement stands out as a key material issue for Hang Seng.

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 Hang Seng engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Customers ·      Daily operations and interactions

·      Financial market updates

·      Relationship manager visits and meetings

·      Seminars and conferences

·      Customer loyalty events

·      Customer satisfaction surveys

·      Online community



·      Annual General Meeting

·      Corporate communications

·      Interim and annual reports

·      Results announcements



·      Surveys

·      Focus groups

·      Face-to-face interviews

·      Training and workshops

·      Performance and development discussions

·      Staff intranet

·      Staff mobile app

·      Business briefings

·      Town hall meetings, hosted by Chief Executive and business/function heads

·      Regular exchange meetings, hosted by Chief Executive and managers

·      Speed networking events

·      Forums hosted by businesses/functions to profile their work and expose staff to internal opportunities

·      Employee representation on staff retirement committee

·      Volunteer activities

·      CSR programmes and communications

Business analysts/ investors



·      Results announcements

·      Post-results announcement briefings

·      Senior management meetings

·      Investor relations meetings

Business partners




·      Reports

·      Visits and meetings

·      Gatherings and seminars

·      Relationship-building events






·      Meetings

·      Compliance reporting

·      On-site inspections

·      Ad hoc enquiries

·      Circulars and guidelines






·      Briefings

·      Press materials

·      Senior management interviews

·      Results announcements

·      Social gatherings

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)



·      Volunteer activities

·      Community investments and donations

·      CSR programmes/communications

·      Staff workshops

·      Visits and meetings

Financial sector peers


·      Strategic collaborations

·      Group circulars

·      Town hall meetings

·      Hong Kong Association of Banks meetings and circulars

Professional bodies (including rating agencies)


·      Visits and meetings

·      Memberships Committees/working groups

·      Workshops

·      External audits

·      Index assessments/questionnaires

·      Financial education programmes



·      Risk management processes

·      Due diligence processes

·      Performance reviews

·      Visits and meetings

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Hang Seng engaged with its stakeholders through an online survey and one-on-one interviews. A total of 260 stakeholders participated in the online survey, to rank the importance of identified topics.

What actions were taken by Hang Seng to promote employee engagement?

In its 2019 Corporate Sustainability Report Hang Seng reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee engagement:

  • Implementing the You Matter programme
  • Hang Seng implements the multipronged staff engagement programme You Matter, to foster an open, progressive and dynamic culture. The programme promotes key elements of Hang Seng’s brand, such as customer service excellence, inclusion and creativity. It also includes town hall meetings and exchange sessions with senior management, informal networking events, and forums in which heads of businesses and functions profile their work.
  • Launching a mobile app
  • To enhance communication, collaboration and collegiality, Hang Seng launched the mobile app H@SE in 2019. This interactive platform enables over 8,000 of Hang Seng’s Hong Kong employees to receive bank updates, to freely share comments and to cast votes on various topics, just like on other social media. This app is key to Hang Seng’s open and dynamic culture in which employees are encouraged to engage in transparent, direct and two-way communication with senior management and colleagues at all levels. An 85 per cent activation rate was achieved two months after the app’s launch. In 2019, more than 1,000 posts were published by Hang Seng’s units to communicate corporate information, important news and business-related stories. To generate feedback, polling questions were published and over 5,800 votes were received. Information about the bank is also conveyed to staff through business briefings, town hall meetings, the intranet, morning broadcasts, circulars and emails. Due consideration is additionally given to making sure there are appropriate notification periods and communication channels when any significant operational changes that could substantially affect staff are implemented.
  • Conducting an employee survey
  • Hang Seng conducts a biannual bank-wide employee survey. The response rate has risen from 38 per cent (first half of 2018) to 66 per cent (second half of 2019) and the number of employees who recommend Hang Seng as a great place to work is at 73 per cent, the highest since 2018. Additionally, a majority – 85 per cent – feel that the bank is genuine in its commitment to encouraging a speak-up culture.
  • Organising exchange meetings
  • Enhancing the approachability of senior leaders was the number one suggestion made by staff in Hang Seng’s surveys, when asked what would remedy a fear of speaking up. Accordingly, Hang Seng organised exchange meetings, to allow staff to speak with senior management. Staff enjoy their informality, and Hang Seng will continue to make them a core part of its engagement strategy. Hang Seng’s most recent survey, in the second half of 2019, confirmed that 85 per cent of employees were also willing to voice concerns when they saw behaviour that was considered wrong. Staff participation in exchange meetings increased from 14 per cent (second quarter of 2016) to more than 60 per cent (second half of 2019). Attendees hailed the sessions as interactive, constructive and fruitful.

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

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes

Disclosure 402-1 Minimum notice periods regarding operational changes corresponds to:


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.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI Standards Certified, IEMA & CIM recognised course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.

Most importantly, you will gain the knowledge to use the GRI Standards, project manage your own first-class sustainability report and:

  • Identify your most important impacts on the Environment, Economy and Society
  • Begin taking solid, focused, all-round sustainability action ASAP



1) This case study is based on published information by Hang Seng, 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:


Note to Hang Seng: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.