Ekezie-Ekaidem: Union Financial institution Dedicated to Environmentally-friendly Enterprise Apply

The Head of Company Communications and Advertising and marketing of Union Financial institution, Mrs. Ogochukwu Ekezie-Ekaidem, on this interview speaks on the financial institution’s efforts to drive social affect via its company citizenship sustainability finance. Dike Onwuamaeze brings the excerpts:

What does it take for an organisation to make high quality company social affect, particularly on this COVID-19 pandemic setting?
Significant social affect can solely occur via the collaboration of all stakeholders, particularly the federal government, the non-public sector and even people. All of us have the duty to drive social affect, and our collective efforts have the potential to yield nice outcomes. I’ll say that there was an apparent show of this collaborative spirit throughout this COVID-19 pandemic illness as key non-public sector gamers, together with Union Financial institution, got here collectively to assist the federal government within the combat in opposition to COVID-19 on the platform of the Personal Sector Coalition In opposition to Covid-19 (CACOVID). Subsequently, our position as a big company establishment isn’t solely to combine sustainable practices into our companies as a part of our core however to additionally interact with, and educate our host communities, on sustainability points and their affect on our world and its future. True company citizenship occurs when an organisation works to ship on its social, cultural, and environmental obligations to its host communities. Companies must also perceive that they’ll make revenue via company sustainably actions since sustainable practices and profitability will not be mutually unique.

What drives Union Financial institution’s Citizenship Sustainability and Innovation technique and the way is it related to the financial institution’s wider company targets and enterprise priorities?
We’re very acutely aware of this necessary reality – we will solely be as profitable because the communities we serve. Statistics present that about 40 per cent of the Nigerian inhabitants reside beneath the poverty line and are excluded from even essentially the most fundamental monetary companies. The plain implication is that for us as banks we have to deliver these residents into the monetary system for the long-term sustainability of our business. If we will proffer efficient options that shut the hole and pull extra folks out of poverty then we as a financial institution stand to profit from that.

This explains why Citizenship Sustainability and Innovation (CSI) are central to the Union Financial institution’s core enterprise and our dedication to the triple backside line of accountable monetary, environmental, and socio-economic growth. Additionally, we’re acutely aware of the necessity to observe our sustainability initiatives and be accountable for our worth chain processes and contribution to social growth. This information has pushed our dedication to report our actions in these areas in our annual CSI reviews. Now we have a transparent mission to play an energetic position within the growth of our society whereas being extra aware of our stakeholders’ expectations of accountability, progress, and sustainability.

How does Union Financial institution determine areas during which to drive affect or are there particular focus areas which were earmarked?
Our CSI efforts come beneath 5 precedence areas, which align with the 14 Sustainable Growth Objectives (SDGs). These are areas which might be crucial for our surroundings and economic system to flourish. They’re environmental sustainability, innovation and financial progress, gender equality, stakeholder engagement and expertise growth. With these focus areas, our targets are to create an enabling setting for our communities and staff to thrive and constantly undertake environmentally pleasant enterprise practices. We assist ladies empowerment, present modern options and drive monetary inclusion in the direction of the prosperity of the common Nigerian.

With the publication of Union Financial institution’s fourth CSI Report that chronicles the financial institution’s actions throughout these areas in 2019, what are the highlights of your CSI actions in 2019 and the primary half of this 12 months?
Our 2019 CSI report was ready in step with the Nigerian Sustainability Enterprise Rules (NSBPs) and the International Reporting Initiative (GRI) requirements. Assurance of the report was additionally performed by an unbiased auditing agency, Deloitte, to display our concentrate on clear reporting of our CSI efforts. I’ll spotlight a number of factors from there. In 2018, we recognized the training sector as an space we will assist and drive affect. Primarily based on this resolution, we launched Edu360, a sturdy platform designed to allow success for training stakeholders – educators, dad and mom, authorities, and the youngsters too. Final 12 months, we held the second version of our annual Edu360 convention that recorded 6,800 folks in attendance over the three days.

As well as, gender equality is one other key focus space for us. We launched the αlpher, which is our devoted proposition for girls that reinforces our assist for girls and women-owned companies. The αlpher is a platform to ‘allow success’ and empower ladies throughout all segments of the Nigerian society via capability constructing alternatives, networking alternatives, scholarships and tailor-made monetary companies.

In the identical vein, we partnered with MamaMoni Empowerment Basis to arrange an Innovation Hub for low-income ladies and women from underserved communities. The vocational coaching programme has been established to assist these women and girls construct sustainable technique of livelihood. In January this 12 months, we have been proud to see the primary batch of 60 ladies graduate from the programme, having acquired numerous vocational expertise reminiscent of tailoring, make-up, and humanities and craft making. The financial institution additionally awarded 40 scholarships to ladies entrepreneurs to construct their capability via the Enterprise and Management Programme (ELP) organised by China-Europe Worldwide Enterprise College (CEIBS) in partnership with Main Girls Africa.

Highlighting our dedication to environmentally pleasant enterprise practices and operations, Union Financial institution has invested closely in deploying different energy options to our department areas. In 2019, the variety of solar-powered branches elevated to 99 from 64 in 2018, and 61 of our ATMs now run on photo voltaic power. We’re happy to see our efforts being acknowledged by the general public and awarding our bodies too. Final 12 months, we obtained awards for the Finest Firm in Environmental Excellence and the SERAs Innovation Prize. We have been named second the runner-up within the Most Accountable Firm class on the Sustainability Enterprise and Accountability Awards (SERAs).

What affect does Union Financial institution search to have on its stakeholders via its CSI actions, and the way does the Financial institution embody these stakeholders in these actions?

We’re targeted on constructing sturdy relationships with our staff, clients, host communities, regulators and different stakeholders in an outlook that underpins our citizenship and sustainability efforts. Stakeholders’ engagement is fixed and important for our enterprise progress. This place permits us to evaluate and handle our CSI affect collaboratively as we leverage partnerships with key stakeholders to amplify our efforts and assist initiatives that promote Nigeria’s growth.

Our staff are additionally actively concerned in our efforts, investing over 4,500 hours in voluntary actions to assist college students and communities in 2019. We held our first nationwide Worker Volunteer Day final 12 months, the place over 1,200 staff together with members of the family and buddies, joined palms to scrub main streets of Abuja, Anambra, Imo, Kaduna, Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo.

Stakeholder expectations are a serious driver encouraging companies to undertake sustainable practices and in recent times, we’ve seen a rise within the demand from stakeholders. At Union Financial institution, we all the time attempt to maintain abreast of those expectations by recurrently participating in sturdy dialogue with our stakeholders throughout our worth chain. Our long-term strategy to CSI permits us not solely to recognise and acknowledge our progress but additionally helps us work to perform even better strides. We’re happy with the Union Financial institution heritage and of the household of unbelievable minds who has labored with us and assist our journey as we proceed to place Union Financial institution as a socially pushed accountable establishment.

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