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Case study: How Westpac promotes ethical business conduct

Founded in 1817, Westpac is Australia’s first bank and oldest company, one of four major banks in Australia and one of the largest banks in New Zealand. Westpac is committed to helping its people make the right decisions every day  Tweet This!, complying with ethical requirements, professional standards and applicable legal and regulatory requirements.

This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by Westpac 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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Westpac is firmly committed to upholding the Australian banking industry’s standards of practice and service contained in the Banking Code of Practice, which requires banks to meet higher standards of ethical behaviour, fair and responsible lending and provide greater protections for customers. In order to promote ethical business conduct Westpac took action to:

  • introduce Navigate
  • encourage a safe to speak up culture
  • provide training

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report Westpac identified a range of material issues, such as financial and economic performance, customer satisfaction and experience, information security and data privacy. Among these, promoting ethical business conduct stands out as a key material issue for Westpac.

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 Westpac engages with:

To identify and prioritise material topics Westpac engaged with its stakeholders through the following channels:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement
Customers

 

·      Customer advocate

·      Call centres

·      Online

·      Social media

·      Mystery shopping

·      Focus groups

·      Customer councils

·      Branch teams and relationship managers

Employees

 

 

 

·      Monthly employee survey

·      Yammer (internal social media)

·      People leader forums

·      Ongoing team meetings

Investors

 

 

·      Surveys

·      Briefings and meetings

·      Annual General Meeting

Government and regulators ·      Policy and trend analysis

·       Industry forums

·      Submissions

·      Reform proposals

·      Meetings

Suppliers ·      Supplier forums

·      Meetings

·      Assessment against Westpac’s Responsible Sourcing Code of Conduct

Non-governmental organisations ·      One-on-one meetings

·      NGO participation in industry meetings

Communities ·      Ongoing dialogue with community partners

·      Local branch engagement

·      Skill-based volunteering, mentoring and secondments

·      Strategic workshops and working groups

What actions were taken by Westpac to promote ethical business conduct?

In its 2019 Sustainability Report Westpac reports that it took the following actions for promoting ethical business conduct:

  • Introducing Navigate
  • Westpac introduced Navigate in September 2018 as an experience-based approach to increasing understanding of its code of conduct, values, service promise and vision to help employees feel more confident when making decisions and ‘navigating the grey’. Every quarter, leaders are expected to take their teams through a scenario designed to test a complex, often ethical, decision that needs to be made, creating a forum for open and courageous conversations and to encourage Westpac’s people to look at the issue from different stakeholder perspectives. Scenario topics during the reporting year included Protecting vulnerable customers, Appropriate protection or undue interference? and We can, but should we? Westpac also introduced the Yes Check as a practical tool to help its people deliver the best outcomes by considering the impact of a decision through different lenses, which can be used together with Our Compass for any kind of decision, from how to help a customer in the moment, to decisions around systems, processes or products.
  • Encouraging a safe to speak up culture
  • Westpac encourages a safe to speak up culture in line with its Speaking Up Policy and during the reporting year centralised the way it investigates concerns and introduced a new online system with a simplified user experience. Westpac also updated its whistleblower programme, to reflect legislative changes that took effect in July 2019.
  • Providing training
  • To help its people understand their obligations and deliver high standards of service and care, Westpac introduced a number of mandatory learning modules, including:
    • Banking Code of Practice Foundations to help its people understand their obligations under the new Code
    • Every Customer Matters to better recognise customers who might need extra care and understand how to provide that care appropriately
    • Why Complaints Matter in order to have a consistent approach to managing complaints and issues across the Group, and to help shift the culture of complaints to focus on customer outcomes and addressing root issues.

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

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures

Disclosure 205-2 Communication and training about anti-corruption policies and procedures 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 Westpac, 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 Westpac: 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.