“Positive impact on society has been a part of the DNA of UKRSIBBANK”

Being an efficient bank in a constantly changing world is not just about achieving high performance. It is also a willingness to take responsibility for the future. According to Laurent Dupuch, Chairman of the Board of UKRSIBBANK BNP Paribas Group, a true leader in the market must ensure a responsible attitude towards all stakeholders including employees, customers, community, society, and the environment. This gets ultimately important in a crisis. That is why UKRSIBBANK focuses on everyday financial issues, as well as the implementation of the principles of corporate social responsibility.

In the interview with “Minfin”, Laurent Dupuch explains why the bank considers corporate social responsibility to be the core business development strategy, what are the main trends of CSR in Ukraine, and how an individual contribution to the common cause can change the world for the better.

About the impact of the pandemic

The pandemic and quarantine measures have hit all areas of economy, including in particular the financial system. How has the COVID-19 crisis affected Ukraine’s banking system, and UKRSIBBANK particularly?

The current crisis has become an accelerator of new solutions. The banking sector plays a key role in the economic development, and we must appreciate its professional approach to address the COVID-19 challenge.

As for UKRSIBBANK, both the bank and all employees have been keeping customers care available since the introduction of the initial quarantine measures. The continued operation has been provided by two factors. On the one hand, we have intensified the development of digital banking. On the other hand, we have enabled remote operations. Consequently, we have provided safe working environment for our employees both in branches and remotely, as well as safe banking services for the customers.

Preliminary developed practices were facilitative of the urgent digital transformation. Additionally, we have introduced flexible mechanisms that have helped us to adjust quickly to the situation. It means that we have intensified all current trends and growth directions and increased the digital development.

What do you think about the next year for the banking system?

Unfortunately, the epidemic heats up again and virus is spreading very fast. The fight against COVID-19 is the top priority not only for the banking sector, but also for all other industries.
UKRSIBBANK will keep serving its customers in compliance with all sanitary and epidemiological requirements, trying to protect its employees and others as much as possible. Most likely, operations in this mode will continue for some time.

What should the financial sector consider to minimize risks if the crisis drags on?

There is a clear need to further increase of digital capacity to enable online communication and service delivery, in remote mode.
Moreover, in the Ukrainian market, along with the COVID-19 crisis, there was a significant reduction in the key rate. It fell from 18% to 6%. New opportunities are created for customers. They can get cheap credit to finance their own projects.
In my opinion, it is the increase in the credit component that banks should focus on in their activities.

About CSR and sustainable development

In today’s world, the issues of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainable development are gaining more and more importance. How does UKRSIBBANK adjust its business model in this context?

Social responsibility is an important component of effective corporate management. UKRSIBBANK, as part of the BNP Paribas Group, operates in line with its global course and fully complies with its CSR principles. We strive for a positive impact on society and the environment and promote it at all stages of operational decisions. First and foremost, we support aspects that we can influence through our products, services, affiliate programs, and more. We also try to ensure sustainable development for our customers. In addition, we create CSR awareness among all stakeholders, and this is a community that includes our shareholders, our customers, our employees, and everyone we deal with.

What areas have been chosen as priorities?

The bank, like the group, has three main priorities. The first is to create a positive impact from our activities, operations and transactions that we provide. In this way, we introduce systems of responsible loans and consumer loans, invest in energy efficiency projects implemented by our customers. Plus, we launched the Women in Business program, which aims to develop women’s entrepreneurship in Ukraine.
The second priority concerns our work to create a positive impact on the environment. We do our best to reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions to prevent a negative impact on climate change.
The third priority is the promotion of corporate social responsibility awareness. For example, we create a culture among our employees that encourages them to develop and provide opportunities for continuous education. We also liaise with professional associations. We pay great attention to information technology. By the way, UKRSIBBANK serves 30% of the IT sector in Ukraine, and we are very proud of this fact.

In other words, the bank’s corporate social responsibility makes an impact on the employees, the communities, and the environment as well. And are there any peculiarities inherent in Ukraine?

Corporate social responsibility has a global dimension. The activities carried out within its framework are widespread and common to different markets. But there are some differences. In the Ukrainian market, we place some emphasis on specific areas, which alone are hardly can cope with today’s challenges. First of all, it is about supporting Women in Business, cooperation with the IT sector and “green” banking.

About women’s entrepreneurship support

UKRSIBBANK and the Group provide great support for women. Why do you pay much attention to the issue of gender equality?

Our Women in Business initiative has been running for several years. It focuses on women who are engaged in entrepreneurial activities or provide business management. Figures show that the representation of such women in Ukraine, however, as in other countries, is

25% to 30%
. According to research, increasing the participation of women in business helps to improve the economic situation not only for themselves but also for the economy as a whole. Therefore, we understand how important is to cooperate with women, support their development and the implementation of their projects.

What has UKRSIBBANK already done in this direction and what projects are expected?

First, the role of women in the work of UKRSIBBANK is very important. About 75% of our staff are women, with 60% of them holding management positions.
Second, within this initiative the bank holds seminars, round tables, and meetings. Thus, we help women who are in the business or going to do it, to develop more effective solutions. We use various tools and involve experts. In other words, we shape the potential of women to do business. In addition, we are participating in a UN initiative called HeForShe. It provides for various measures aimed mainly at gender equality.

About environmental initiatives

Let’s talk about “green” banking as one of social responsibility patterns. It is gaining more and more weight in the world. How is the bank developing this trend?

Much of the bank’s attention is focused on climate change. Our task is to introduce effective mechanisms and ensure appropriate actions that will have a positive impact on the environment. And we try to do it at all levels. Yes, we are investing in our own energy efficiency. We strive to achieve greater results in our work, while reducing the negative impact on the environment. Also, we are always ready to support our customers in such commitments. Simply put, if the customer wants to replace old equipment with new one that will have a positive impact on the climate (that is sustainable, efficient, with reduced carbon emissions), we are ready to consider finding such initiatives.

CSR requires considerable effort. What does the bank receive or expect to receive as a result?

All decisions made within our group are considered in the context of a positive impact on society as a whole. It is part of our business and is embedded in our DNA. Yes, investing in the sustainable development of the bank itself, our customers and employees, needs time and effort. But to say that we expect a short term profit from this, which will be reflected in the figures of total activity, would not be entirely true, but it is of the utmost important when we target a sustainable growth. First of all, the bank expects to get reliable customers and quality, long-term cooperation, partners who will share the same values with us and adhere to high standards in their activities.

The interview was prepared by Iryna Rybnytska. The material was published on the website minfin.com.ua on December 3, 2020

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