The Report provides insights into Westpac Group’s sustainability performance across a series of social, environmental and economic performance indicators over the 2017 financial year, as well as an analysis of the current and emerging issues that matter most to our stakeholders.
Brian Hartzer, Westpac Group CEO said 2017 was a big year in progressing the Group’s sustainability agenda, as we worked with our many stakeholders on issues that matter, including climate change, accessibility, financial inclusion, human rights and reconciliation.
“Fifteen years ago, Westpac set out its first sustainability strategy outlining the Group’s position on the responsibility of business, with a vision that every generation should live better than the last.
“As we reflect on our performance against the actions set out in our 2013-17 Sustainability Strategy, we have made strong progress,” he said.
In 2017, Westpac Group achieved milestone targets such as 50% women in leadership roles1, $7 billion in lending and investment in Cleantech and environmental services, and initiatives to ensure that the workforce is representative of the broader community in which the Group operates.
The Group continues to look for ways to improve its sustainability risk disclosures. Westpac was the first Australian bank to undertake climate scenario analysis in 2016, and this year the Group’s reporting includes a climate change index – in line with the final recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). The Group has also included a human rights index in its report, referencing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Alongside the many achievements which are detailed in the Sustainability Performance Report, there are areas where Westpac will continue to challenge itself through the next phase of its sustainability strategy. This includes lending to social and affordable housing solutions. Although this lending totalled $1.32 billion in FY17, it fell short of the $2 billion target that the Group set for itself, largely due to the challenge of finding scalable solutions.
“This year Westpac became the first Australian company and bank to reach 200 years in business. Our history has taught us the importance of adapting, relationships, and people – and it’s these same principles that will underpin our third century in business, and the next phase of Westpac’s Sustainability Strategy for 2018-2020,” Mr Hartzer said.
2017 Sustainability Strategy performance highlights
This year marks the conclusion of Westpac Group’s five-year 2013-17 Sustainability Strategy. The Group’s 2017 Sustainability Performance Report details performance highlights against the Strategy’s three priority areas, including the following:
Embracing societal change
- Achieved goal of 50% women in leadership roles by 2017.
- Published updated Human Rights Position Statement and 2020 Action Plan and released first statement in response to the UK Modern Slavery Act.
- St.George bank accredited as Australia’s first dementia friendly bank by Dementia Australia.
- Exceeded 2015-2017 Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) commitment of recruiting 500 new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees by 2017, and directed focus to retention and development in our 2018-2020 RAP.
- Released our third Climate Change Position Statement and Action Plan, including a target for lending to climate change solutions of $10 billion by 2020 and $25 billion by 2030.
- Increased the proportion of renewable energy financing from 45% to 65% between 2011 and 2017 in the total electricity generation portfolio.
- Launched industry-first sustainability scoring capability for BT Panorama, which shows how investments on the ASX200 (and over 200 managed funds) rate against environmental, social and governance factors.
- Issued an offshore currency Climate Bond for US$50 million, a first among the Australian banks.
Better financial futures
- Increased lending to the social and affordable housing sector to $1.32 billion.
- Introduced a number of new products and services to meet the changing needs of customers, including Westpac Life and Bump savings accounts, and a new basic credit card, Westpac Lite, with an interest rate of 9.9%.
- Released first Financial Inclusion Action Plan.
- Made available close to $475,000 in microfinance loans with Many Rivers Microfinance to support Indigenous Australian business owners.