Singapore's best bank for CSR 2018: DBS
DBS doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to corporate social responsibility. Singapore’s largest bank also walks the walk. And since establishing a sustainability council and appointing a chief sustainability officer in 2017, that has become all the more evident.
The bank manages sustainability across four pillars: responsible banking, responsible corporate citizenship, creating social impact and being the employer of choice. With that in mind, DBS focuses on four of the 17 sustainable development goals – affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, responsible consumption and production, and climate action.
After making its commitment towards addressing climate change public in January this year, DBS held its inaugural in-house climate week in March. It is also an active part of the BCA building retrofit energy efficiency financing scheme and the Economic Development Board’s energy efficiency financing pilot programme, which help SMEs offset the high upfront costs associated with energy efficiency improvement works. As of the end of 2017, DBS’s outstanding loans under these schemes amounted to S$3.67 million ($2.7 million), supporting retrofits that resulted in a reduction of over 6,000 megawatt hours of energy consumption.
In September 2017, DBS became the first Asian bank and Singapore company to join the global renewable energy initiative, RE100. It has given itself a target to power 100% of its operations in Singapore using renewable energy by 2030. In 2017, it reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 4,118 tonnes and achieved cost savings of S$3.8 million.
Away from its climate focus, DBS has also shown its environmental, social and governance credentials in the capital markets. In July 2017, it brought to the market the world’s first listed social sustainability bond, called the Women’s Livelihood Bond, which provides loans to social enterprises and microfinance institutions that impact the livelihoods of more than 385,000 women in Cambodia, the Philippines and Vietnam. In the same month, DBS became Asean’s first bank to issue a green bond.
In March this year, it was one of the arrangers of Singapore agribusiness Olam International’s $500 million sustainability-linked club loan, the first of its kind in Asia.
Its support for social enterprises is also notable, thanks to the DBS Foundation that was established in February 2014. Last year, the foundation reached more than 4,800 social enterprises through local forums and workshops.
Its own employees are also not forgotten, especially at a time of digital revolution. In August 2017, DBS committed to invest S$20 million over five years to improve the skills of its employees, enabling them to thrive in the digital economy.