Business culture and working environment
Sparebanken Vest wishes to be a role model for how the business sector can make a difference to social development in Western Norway.
Among other things, this requires that we take good care of our employees and their working environment, that we have thorough procedures to prevent corruption and money laundering, and that we make active efforts to reduce both our direct and indirect impact on the environment.
Sparebanken Vest sees our employees as our most important resource for being able to provide quality services to our customers. We shall treat our customers with trust and respect and give professional and ethically justifiable advice based on the necessary qualifications and knowledge of the customer’s situation. All employees are subject to a duty of secrecy, which also applies in relation to colleagues.
Sparebanken Vest makes determined efforts to promote gender equality and prevent unequal treatment and discrimination. Please see our gender equality status report here. The bank’s gender equality policy can be found here (PDF - in Norwegian only). In 2017, 52% of the bank’s workforce, 57% of the corporate management team and 40% of board members were women. The bank also has a dedicated management development programme for women.
We have entered into an Inclusive Workplace (IW) agreement, under which we work to achieve an inclusive working environment and to reduce sickness absence. In addition to the work on inclusion, we have an extensive plan for our HSE work, which the bank discusses with safety delegates, the occupational health service, employee representatives and the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV).
We have developed guidelines for our remuneration arrangements and have full transparency in relation to remuneration of the management.
Code of Ethics
Sparebanken Vest has developed a Code of Ethics (PDF - in Norwegian only) which intends to ensure that all parts of the organisation understand and apply the ethical standards we expect. The Code of Ethics applies to all employees, and describes, among other things, how employees should handle challenges relating to impartiality and conflicts of interest, participation in other business activities, and their own and customers’ trading in financial instruments. Our Code of Ethics prevent employees becoming involved in conflicts of interest, and clear procedures are in place should they nonetheless arise.
Sparebanken Vest is climate neutral
Through the UN Global Compact Sparebanken Vest has undertaken to apply a precautionary approach in relation to environmental challenges, to take the initiative to promote increased environmental responsibility and to encourage the development and use of environmentally friendly technology. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report in autumn 2018 that shows that greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 40–50% by 2030 to prevent global warming of more than 1.5°C. If we do not reach this goal, the consequences will be catastrophic for the entire planet.
Sparebanken Vest regards cutting greenhouse gas emissions to be part of our corporate social responsibility. This applies globally, through our responsibility to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but also locally, through our commitments to our owners and our commitment to make Western Norway a better place to live.
Our goal is therefore to reduce our own climate footprint by 50% (147 tonnes CO2) by 2025. In connection with this work, we have decided that our business shall be climate neutral, with effect from autumn 2018. As of 1 November 2018, we meet these obligations by complying with the UN’s requirements of climate neutral enterprises, defined in the initiative Climate Neutral Now.
We fulfil the climate neutrality requirements by meeting the following criteria:
- Every year, we publish approved climate accounts (PDF - in Norwegian only) for our business, prepared by CEMAsys.com AS.
- We have evaluated our consumption, and set goals for reducing emissions.
- We offset residual emissions by purchasing approved carbon credits.
Sparebanken Vest’s goal is to be climate neutral, also with respect to our investments, by the end of 2020. We also encourage our customers, suppliers and sponsorships to be climate neutral, and to publish their emission data and climate measures.
Further climate measures
We are working on the following measures to reduce emissions in 2019 and 2020:
a) Transport: Sparebanken Vest has introduced 4 rules of flight reduction, as well as set a goal of replacing its fleet of fossile vehicles by the end of 2020, and replace these vehicles with environmentally friendly alternatives. This will enable us to save around 24,5 tons of CO2 by the end of 2020.
b) Waste: Our head office Jonsvoll in Bergen city centre has already established good procedures for sorting waste at source, with more than 86% (figure from BIR) being sorted at source. We will also initiate further measures to reduce waste. We are collaborating with our restaurant supplier with a reduction programme for food waste and food packaging waste. Paper waste will be reduced by introducing compulsory duplex printing, and we are eliminating single use plastic products in our offices. This will enable us to save around 2 to 3 tons of CO2 by the end of 2020.
c) Energy: An energy reduction programme has reduced the energy consumption by 20% from 2017 to 2018. We are continuing to reduce energy year by year, buying electricity certificates to all energy purchased as well as introducing a criteria of energy labelling A and B for all new offices that we are establishing. This will enable us to save around 17 tons of CO2 by the end of 2020.
The bank’s head office in Jonsvoll was Eco-Lighthouse certified (PDF - in Norwegian only) in September 2017 by the head office model. The Eco-Lighthouse certification is an external verification of Sparebanken Vest that confirms that the bank meets a set of criteria and implements measures to achieve more environmentally friendly operations and a good working environment.
The residual emissions for the business in 2018 amounted to 330 tonnes of CO2 equivalents. We have purchased GS 1385, Gold Standard climate credits to offset these emissions through the UN carbon credit scheme (see climate certificate - PDF in Norwegian only). These credits go to clean-burning kitchen stoves in Ghana (PDF - in Norwegian only), a project that meets the following criteria:
- The projects are subject to strict quality requirements.
- All of the projects are thoroughly documented and verified.
- They would not be possible without the income generated by sales of carbon credits.
- The projects must be able to prove that emission cuts will be achieved before the credits are awarded.
- The projects contribute to sustainable development in the countries they are located in.
Increased competence in climate-related risk
In 2015, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) established the ‘Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ (TCFD), an expert group comprising 32 international members led by Michael Bloomberg. TCFD was tasked with investigating how companies could report on climate-related risk in a better, more systematic manner.
In 2018, Finance Norway presented a ‘Roadmap for green competitiveness in the financial sector’ (PDF - in Norwegian only). One of its clearest recommendations is for the financial sector to increase its competence in climate-related risk and opportunities. This will enable the sector to make better decisions regarding who should be granted financing and at what cost. Assessing the financial consequences of climate-related change, both the physical consequences and the fact that the premise for the enterprises changes (transitional risk), naturally come under the financial sector’s management responsibility.
The roadmap recommended that the Ministry of Finance include climate risk in the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway’s assignments. This was taken under consideration, and, in the national budget, the Financial Supervisory Authority was tasked with mapping how climate change may affect financial stability.
Sparebanken Vest aims to hold courses for key personnel in the bank to increase their understanding of this issue, which will constitute the first step in a longer process to include these assessments in the bank’s core processes.
Requirements relating to suppliers
We are our suppliers’ customers and therefore have the power to influence how our suppliers take responsibility for sustainable value creation.
We are continuing Fjordkrafts project Klimanjaro, were there criteria of climate neutrality must be met in order to be our supplier by the end of 2020. Companies must agree to: measure their CO2 footprint, set goals for footprint reduction, and compensate for their climate debt.
As a minimum we also require all our suppliers to comply with Norwegian laws and binding international agreements, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Working Environment Act, the Convention against Corruption, the Money Laundering Act and the Taxation Act. We also set out concrete requirements in a separate agreement (PDF - in Norwegian only) that all the bank’s suppliers must sign.
Sparebanken Vest focuses on ensuring the lowest possible environmental load in connection with procurement processes. Our suppliers must at all times meet or exceed official environmental requirements, and ensure that they have energy-efficient and raw material-efficient production methods.
In connection with the Eco-Lighthouse certification, we have used the ‘Mapping of suppliers’ tool and have integrated it into our procurement system. Mapping is carried out continuously. It gives us an overview of suppliers who are certified pursuant to the Eco-Lighthouse criteria, ISO-14001, EMAS, the Nordic Ecolabel or similar. We will also endeavour to persuade our regular and most important suppliers to seek environmental certification.
We believe that information and visibility are an important point of departure for achieving understanding, a willingness to change and the ability to implement the right measures. We will prepare an annual climate and environment report as part of the Eco-Lighthouse certification. In order to make the organisation aware of the bank’s impact on the environment, the report will set clear and quantifiable goals for the work on reducing our impact. This will enable us to see the effects of the environmental measures we implement. The report will also enable us to compare our results with other enterprises in the same sector. We have good experience of this cooperation and endeavour to comply with more standards to further improve the quality of everything we do.
For up-to-date reports on risk and capital management in the bank, see this page.
Society and politics
Sparebanken Vest does not have its own political agenda, and is neutral as far as party politics are concerned. The bank is regularly in direct dialogue with the Norwegian authorities, as a natural part of its day-to-day activities, about matters concerning regulatory issues and equal competitive conditions for all providers of financial services in Norway. This dialogue is also conveyed through Finance Norway, which is the main organisation for the financial sector in Norway. Sparebanken Vest does not use third parties acting on behalf of the bank to influence official bodies or politicians in a specific direction.
Sparebanken Vest wishes to be a clear voice in public debate with respect to issues the bank believes are important for Western Norway as a region, the country as a whole and the financial sector as an industry. This is achieved by exchanges in the media, taking part in conferences and various consultation submissions the bank is invited to contribute to. Such consultation submissions may be specific to the industry or linked to more wide-reaching societal issues, such as issues relating to proposed county mergers. The bank also provides input to consultation submissions initiated by Finance Norway on behalf of the financial sector as a whole. Sparebanken Vest expects the consultation submissions the bank is involved in to be made publicly available.
Sparebanken Vest fully supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals and has no self-interest in attempting to influence developments in a direction in conflict with these goals. We also expect our customers to endorse the UN SDGs.