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Case study: How KBC promotes workplace diversity

KBC is an integrated bank-insurance group catering mainly for retail, private banking, SME and mid-cap clients in its core markets of Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ireland and Slovakia. KBC believes in equal opportunities for all employees and in workforce diversity, so as to respond to a rapidly changing society.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by KBC 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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Diversity and inclusion are very important at KBC.  Tweet This! Accordingly, creating a culture in which everyone feels able to be themselves and stand up for their opinions and encouraging diverse teams, which offer richer ideas and make more balanced decisions, are key priorities. In order to promote workplace diversity KBC took action to:
  • combat discrimination
  • promote gender diversity
  • enhance age diversity

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report KBC identified a range of material issues, such as business ethics, data security and customer privacy, financial resilience, customer engagement and satisfaction, responsible finance and investing. Among these, promoting workplace diversity stands out as a key material issue for KBC.

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 KBC engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Clients

 

 

 

·      Annual client satisfaction, NPS and reputation surveys

·      Regular client panels and client consultations

·      Complaints management

·      Local engagement by branch network and relationship managers

Employees

 

·      Employee surveys

·      Regular consultation with the Health & Safety Committees, prevention advisors and trade union representatives

·      Annual meeting of the European Works Council

·      Regular evaluation of all staff

Investors

 

 

 

·      Investor days

·      Regular roadshows for investors and analysts

·      Annual General Meeting

·      Review by credit rating agencies

·      Sustainability assessments such as DJSI, CDP, Sustainalytics, FTSE4Good, Bankwijzer Belgium and Ethibel

Suppliers

 

·      CSR questionnaire as integral part of the supplier assessment

·      Support suppliers willing to make the adjustments needed to comply with the Code of Conduct for Suppliers

·      Annual stakeholder dialogue

Government & regulators

 

 

 

·      Membership of banking and insurance sector federations

·      Membership of other national and international representative bodies to establish and maintain relationships with political actors, achieve closer follow-up of regulatory initiatives impacting the financial sector (e.g. public consultations)

·      Active participation at networking events

NGOs & broader community

 

·      Annual stakeholder dialogue

·      Regular (one-on-one) meetings with NGOs

·      Membership of sustainability network organisations

·      Membership of local works councils

·      Research papers and media analysis

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics KBC engaged with its stakeholders through workshops, surveys and interviews.

What actions were taken by KBC to promote workplace diversity?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report KBC reports that it took the following actions for promoting workplace diversity:

  • Combatting discrimination
  • KBC does not tolerate discrimination and seeks to make sure that its people enjoy equal opportunities regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, background, or other characteristics separate from their skills. Equal treatment of employees is enshrined in the KBC Code of Conduct and in the various manifestos and charters KBC has endorsed. KBC also promotes diversity awareness internally among its employees by organising activities such as lectures by guest speakers, discussion forums, training courses and workshops.
  • Promoting gender diversity
  • KBC believes in gender diversity at all levels of the organisation, and recognises that the flow of women into senior management positions can be improved. Actively working on a separate policy for top talent management, in which future senior managers are identified and fast-tracked to face tomorrow’s challenges, KBC pays special attention to the theme of gender. In Belgium, KBC launched the ‘Diversity Rocks’ community to promote diversity and inclusion at every level. Diversity Rocks works closely with the HR department and sets up discussion forums, organises workshops and gives more visibility to women. KBC’s Chief Risk Officer, Christine Van Rijsseghem, chairs ‘Women in Finance’ – a Febelfin project that strives for greater diversity within Belgian financial institutions. KBC Belgium and 27 other Belgian financial players have also signed the Charter for Gender Diversity in the Financial Sector. KBC has undertaken to place gender equality and diversity firmly on the agenda, and to develop concrete action plans. In 2019, the proportion of women at the different levels of the company was:
    • 31% of the Board of Directors
    • 14% of the Executive Committee
    • 21% of senior management
    • 43% of junior and middle management
    • 68% of white and blue-collar staff
    • 57% of the overall workforce
  • Enhancing age diversity
  • As people need to work longer and sometimes need to change their priorities – while certain jobs can also become too demanding towards the end of a career –, KBC Belgium created its Minerva programme for workers aged 55 and older, which allows them to share their experience with other organisations while retaining their existing pay and employment conditions. Minerva is currently active in over 30 different organisations in the non- and social profit sector. Since its launch, 80 KBC staff members have taken the step. As of 2019, KBC Belgium has also been an active participant in the sector-level initiative TalentMobility. This aims to retrain people from the financial sector and to help them find a new job in another sector – all on a fully voluntary basis. KBC also gives young employees the opportunity to develop their talents. When filling external vacancies KBC always strives for a healthy mix between experienced candidates and young people, as a continuous inflow of young talent not only contributes to an inclusive and balanced workforce, but also ensures that KBC remains future-proof.

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

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees

Disclosure 405-1 Diversity of governance bodies and employees 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

 

References:

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

http://database.globalreporting.org/

2) https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/gri-standards-download-center/

Note to KBC: 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.