National Australia Bank is launching a communication strategy to talk about corporate responsibility to both internal and external stakeholders, shareholders and customers.
The strategy, Wealth of Opportunity, is based on three pillars, which NAB identifies as helping Australians have a healthy relationship with money, cultivating prosperous communities and the bank’s role in leading a future focused nation, said Paula Benson, general manager, corporate responsibility at NAB. Wealth of Opportunity is a narrative designed to communicate the bank’s commitment to putting corporate responsibility into its business strategy.
“Over the last 12 to 18 months, we’ve been thinking about how we communicate this better,” Benson said. “We think that we do a lot, and a lot more than other corporates in Australia. We think we have a great story to tell. Our strategy is sound, but it hasn’t been communicated in a way that inspires and engages our people, our customers and our shareholders. So we really thought about how we could change out communication from what we do to what we believe. We really feel that we have landed on a message in talking about wealth, because wealth is about a lot more than money – it’s about the things that make life rich. We will all have a different perspective on what wealth is.”
Healthy relationships with money deals with NAB’s approach to creating fair and affordable financial products and providing customers with advice, guidance and assistance. It also encapsulates programs such as NAB’s partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance, which rolls out affordable finance to communities that have experienced financial exclusion. NAB has committed to providing fair and affordable finance to one million people on low incomes by 2018 through that partnership.
The second pillar – building prosperous communities – covers the banks’ commercial business and investment activities, but will also communicate their work with not for profits, employee volunteering programs and sponsorship of programs such as Auskick, Benson said.
The third pillar – future focus nation – will cover how the bank looks to future services for customers in areas including superannuation and retirement provision, providing services for Australian businesses doing work in the Asian region, but also their approach to issues like natural capital valuation and performance regarding environmental issues, Benson said.
Wealth of Opportunity is a strategy that articulates the bank’s corporate responsibility strategy, including their approach to environmental, social and governance issues.
“Obviously, NAB has a clear and strong commitment to ESG and we have ESG principles for lending and very much alive and well in the business,” Benson said. “It is driven by members of my team, particularly [Head of Corporate Responsibility] Janette O’Neill. Our ESG principles of lending are very much about that healthy relationship with money – we are making good decisions with sustainability principles at the heart of them and that has led us to a greater, deeper understanding of using those principles for better decision-making for better lending and the sustainability of our company.”
NAB engaged specialist sustainability communications agency, Republic of Everyone, in the development of the communications platform, Benson noted. Wealth of Opportunity is an overarching narrative of business strategy, and NAB will be publishing 15 commitments around the three pillars. Those commitments will come out in NAB’s annual review, and are currently being reviewed by the executive, Benson said. The strategy also focuses on how corporate responsibility is embedded in how NAB seeks business opportunity in addition to mitigating against risks.
“I think there is as deep understanding that corporate responsibility delivers value,” Benson said. “Yes, there is an element of risk mitigation. We see that it’s very much about protecting and enhancing reputation, improving relationships, employee engagement, retaining customers – it drives really constructive stakeholder relationships. We have an open approach with working with key stakeholders as well. … We see stakeholder engagement as driving resource efficiency and also in terms of helping us to drive strategy. We want to be ahead of the curve because we know that is what will deliver value and that will drive revenue. That is, our approach to corporate responsibility is a source of reputation and resource efficiency that will deliver real dollars to the bottom line.”