The British Bankers Association and the Association of British Insurers have launched new corporate social responsibility (CSR) guidance.
The two organisations believe that CSR is now less a choice and more of a necessity for businesses to flourish. With FTSE 4GOOD-type indices, the recent ABI Socially Responsible Investment guidelines, and ever increasing scrutiny of corporate activity, they say CSR has become a commercial imperative, a differentiator for the city and analysts to judge the progressive nature of a company.
As more institutions leverage the opportunities CSR presents, so the need for guidance for companies has increased. Here the financial services sector is leading the way.
DTI minister, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, unveiled the guidelines at a joint British Bankers' Association and Association of British Insurers conference yesterday (November 5).
The FORGE Group. which has developed the guidance, hopes it will provide practical help to the financial services sector in addressing management and reporting on a wide range of CSR issues. Several companies in this sector are developing best practice, and this guidance builds on these achievements, aiming to provide a structured and systematic approach to CSR.
Ian Mullen, chief executive of the BBA, says: “Financial Services companies have been at the forefront of developing corporate social responsibility practice. We are delighted, therefore, to be associated with this new initiative, which will help banks to further develop a structured approach to CSR, both in implementing a CSR management structure and in identifying issues relevant to each of their stakeholder groups.”
Mary Francis, director-general of the ABI, adds: “The right approach to social, ethical and environmental issues is vital in adding and preserving value for investors in the companies they own. This is reflected in the ABI's own guidelines. So we welcome this effort to produce guidance on the best way forward for all financial services companies.”