Interview with Michał Gajewski, President of the Management Board of Bank Zachodni WBK| BZ WBK CSR Report 2016
We speak openly about the things we offer to our customers and employees and about the initiatives we engage in. We are sharing the information about our bank so willingly because we are proud of what we do.
You are the head of Bank Zachodni WBK, one of the biggest financial institutions in Poland. Which aspects of corporate social responsibility are in your opinion most important for the financial sector?
Each company, regardless of the sector, should strive to build its value and credibility not only through financial performance but also through its engagement in broadly understood CSR activities. For institutions like Bank Zachodni WBK, transparency to its customers, the market and shareholders is one of the key priorities. All our decisions are made after analysing their impact and effects on the users of our services, our employees and business partners and the local communities of which we are a part. We also consider our impact on the natural environment. Corporate social responsibility is an integral element of our core operations and is embedded in our business strategy. Going beyond our own understanding of the social responsibility obligations, we can refer to the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations, among which quality education, decent work and economic growth or innovation are certainly of crucial significance to our sector.
What are the priorities of Bank Zachodni WBK in this area for the coming years? Which corporate social responsibility standards will you be focusing on?
From the point of view of our long-term business strategy, the bank’s priorities include customer satisfaction and outstanding positive experience. Simple procedures, excellent customer service, accessibility, assimilation of new technologies and tailor-made products are the goals which we are working towards. But we are also well aware of the fact that customer satisfaction requires satisfied employees. Therefore, growing the engagement of our staff is another important objective. Additionally, Bank Zachodni WBK has been supporting the local communities in which it operates for many years. We invest in education, participate in social projects and actively promote equal opportunities, contributing to the long-term social and economic development of Poland. We keep expanding the reach of our impact all the time, in keeping with our belief in the synergy of business activities and investments in the development of local communities.
How do you make sure that your employees live and breathe your strategy and refer to it while making daily decisions at work?
The translation of a strategy into daily operations and ways of work across the entire organisation is always a challenge for the management. In our case, of crucial importance is to maintain the customer-centric perspective and look at the world around through the eyes of our customers. This is the corporate culture that I personally believe in and will support. In all that we do, at every stage of developing or selling a product, we need to think about the customers and try to visualise how they will react to our efforts. Top quality customer service is one of our absolute priorities and each and every employee is expected to apply the customer’s perspective while doing their daily jobs.
Which of the bank’s CSR activities are you particularly proud of?
We do many things in many different areas, wherever we see unmet needs. The projects we engage in are interesting and valuable so it is difficult to mention just one initiative or decision. But if I can’t avoid choosing, I am certainly proud of our growing engagement in social projects. In 2016, 120,000 beneficiaries received support from our bank. This is a huge impact. Programmes like Santander Universidades, Barrier-free Service, The Way You Drive, ”Finansiaki” or the activities of our Foundation are highly visible and make real changes in the reality around us. We also actively support small local communities and help them do something for common good. Therefore this year we have launched the third edition of the Hear I Live, Hear I Change programme which is particularly appreciated by residents of smaller towns. The purpose of the project is to activate the local community around a common goal which will benefit the entire local population.
In your opinion, why should corporate social responsibility be among the priorities of the senior management of business organisations?
The simple answer is that in our times any activities which focus exclusively on profitmaking, without taking into account the expectations of the stakeholders and the impact on the external environment, are bound to fail. In the current world, consumer preferences are influenced not only by the product price or properties, but also a number of other factors. The same applies to financial services. Taking responsibility for the common good and fulfilling obligations towards the society is a clear expectation nowadays.
What is the purpose of reporting on CSR activities? What are the real benefits to the bank of taking part in this time consuming and demanding process which involves many employees and external stakeholders of the bank?
Our financial statements contain a lot of numbers and quality information but they do not say everything about the value of our organisation. They reflect a very important part of our activities, but still only a part. In the present world, the value of brands and the success of business organisation depends on aspects which cannot be found in the books of accounts. Therefore, for the last four years we have been publishing also non-financial reports which bring a lot of additional information about our company. It is also a great tool to review and verify all conducted activities which helps to manage the future of an organisation in a rational and strategically-focused way. By reading our corporate social responsibility reports, you can see clearly who we are, what our mission is and how we perceive our role in the socio-economic ecosystem. We speak openly about the things we offer to our customers and employees and about the initiatives we engage in. We are sharing the information about our bank so willingly because we are proud of what we do. Every year when I read or browse through the non-financial report of Bank Zachodni WBK I think to myself that the banking business is not only interesting, challenging and full of emotions, but also that it can do a lot of good for the society.