French Bank BNP Paribas, winner of the Conscious Companies Awards 2019, is a broad-based black economic empowerment entity that subscribes to the ethics of responsible banking. It believes in living up to its economic responsibilities by helping to finance various projects.
Its chief executive Vikas Khandelwal has over the last 20 years seen the worst and the best in banking. When he was posted to South Africa two years ago, he decided to act as a catalyst to leverage the global group’s resources to benefit and impact on South Africans. A reputational fallout several years ago resulted in the bank resetting its corporate culture, ethics and values to change the mindset of its human capital and drill down a solid value system that is beyond compromise.
Today, the company has deeply committed to the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals in the country through their impact funding and unique microfinancing initiatives. “It is a powerful way of making a life-changing impact that benefits the poorest of the poor,” Khandelwal says.
Its actions and social impact speak for themselves. In South Africa, their unique microfinancing initiative proved a powerful way of making a life-changing impact that benefits the poorest of the poor. Since 2016, they have microfinanced loans from R5 000 upwards, to the tune of R30-million.
“Responsible banking is about living up to economic responsibilities and making a difference. A fundamental aspect of our philosophy and strategy is to implement a sustainable programme that not only meets our business objectives, but makes a tangible contribution to uplifting society.”
The company prides itself, too, in being active in its civic responsibilities by combating exclusivity and promoting skills development, preferential procurement and management and employment equity, among others.
It is cognisant of the fact that it needs to be proactive in the sphere of social responsibility as well. This is achieved by treating its more than 198 011 employees fairly and engaging in serious and meaningful dialogue with staff union representatives when the occasion arises. By promoting education and culture, the bank also works for the good of society. It pays special heed to assisting underprivileged neighbourhoods and marginalised areas, as well as supporting charitable organisations and social economic enterprises.
The perilous state of the environment is also high on the bank’s agenda and its staff is seriously concerned with the impact BNP’s activities may have on the world. Detailed policies are in place relating to its day-to-day operations, as well as in the sensitive fields of industry.
The BNP Paribas Foundation, an active patron since 1984, is a key component in these activities. It supports a number of environmental initiatives, including projects involving culture, solidarity, education, health and the environment. BNP Paribas Corporate Philanthropy ensures the overall coherence and effectiveness of its sponsorships around the world.