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Singapore's best bank for CSR 2019: DBS


Mikkel Larsen, Chief Sustainability Officer, DBS.jpg
Mikkel Larsen, DBS

Corporate and social responsibility is not simply about supporting the issuance of green bonds or loans. It goes far beyond that – something that DBS has understood and has worked towards.

The bank focuses on three pillars around sustainability: responsible banking, responsible business practices and creating social impact. For starters, DBS has extended its participation in sustainability linked loans to more than S$600 million ($432 million). It began with agribusiness Olam, which bagged Asia’s first such club loan in March 2018, to eventually working with the likes of Wilmar and CapitaLand, as well as Taiwan’s AU Optronics and Singapore’s Chew Agriculture. Chew’s financing was the first sustainability linked loan to an SME in Singapore.

What differentiates DBS from its peers is the breadth of its CSR efforts, led by Mikkel Larsen, its chief sustainability officer.

While traditionally, banks tend to focus on wholesale banking when it comes to CSR, DBS has gone a step further by also pushing on sustainability in retail banking, helping customers understand how much carbon emissions are produced from their use of banking services.

When it comes to its business practices, it has turned its attention to improving gender diversity in the technology sector. Even within the organization, diversity is a key focus, with more than 50% of DBS’s total workforce, and 40% of senior management jobs, held by women at the end of 2018. Its environment footprint is also carefully monitored.

DBS also finds ways to create social impact, for example by providing mentorship programmes for SMEs, giving migrant workers easier access to banking, and organizing volunteering events for its staff.

Its efforts have paid off many times over. In October 2018, DBS became the first southeast Asian bank to be included in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for Asia Pacific. In March this year, it was the first Singaporean bank to issue a standalone sustainability report.

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