Sustainable by conviction, rather than by convention, BLKB works with a number of leading organisations to take a proactive role in climate protection
BLKB is a future-orientated Swiss bank – with history. It was founded 150 years ago to meet local financial needs and has been taking responsibility for the Basel economic region ever since. Today, BLKB’s forward-looking ethos underpins its comprehensive sustainability efforts. With a focus on people, society and the environment, BLKB’s mission is to have a positive and responsible impact. Employees, customers, business partners, the region and the environment benefit from this added value.
Broad interpretation of sustainability
BLKB’s approach is distinguished by a holistic and comprehensive understanding of sustainability. This is primarily about taking the long view, asking whether today’s actions will still be correct tomorrow. “That’s why we also talk about future-orientation at BLKB,” explains Marilen Schwald, the bank’s Head of Sustainability. “Future-orientation expresses our deep conviction that sustainable development is worthwhile for everyone, and that we assess issues holistically and in the long-term.”
Based on its mission statement, at the beginning of 2021, BLKB defined sustainability goals that it aims to achieve by 2030. These overarching objectives serve as the basis for the definition of annual targets and future strategic periods. ESG criteria are incorporated along with financial goals.
At an operational level, BLKB attaches importance to ecologically responsible banking operations and serving clients with integrity and prudence. It provides an inspiring working environment for its employees, and maintains that future-orientated attitude. The aim is for sustainability to become the standard in all areas of the bank’s operation. BLKB regularly measures its progress and publishes the results in its sustainability report.
Built on solid foundations
BLKB’s sustainability management includes work with “topic owners”: a group of employees who take responsibility for, and further develop, one or more sustainability topics in sometimes cross-functional teams. They receive support from the “Champions of Future Orientation,” who are ambassadors for forward-thinking and provide advice and support.
Coordination is carried out by the sustainability team, in close consultation with the CEO and the executive board. “In this way, we can work consistently on anchoring future-orientation in business policy, products and services, processes, corporate culture, and internal and external communications,” says Schwald.
In its multi-faceted approach to sustainability, and since last year BLKB even has a Sustainability Advisory Board at its disposal. “This gives us a continuous view from the outside,” says Schwald. The advisory board is independent of the bank council and the executive board. It deals with strategic and operational issues relating to sustainability in the bank’s field of activity, and draws up concrete recommendations.
BLKB is sustainable by conviction, and actively shapes social discourse on the subject. It is committed to greater sustainability in various membership and partnership projects. For several years, it has been a member of Familienfreundliche Wirtschaftsregion, a programme promoting positive work and community conditions in the Basel economic region. BLKB is also a signatory of the Work Smart Charta, a cross-company initiative advancing flexible forms of working. The bank has been working with the organisation Womenmatter/s for two years, driving gender equality in the workplace.
BLKB has long been committed to an environmentally-friendly financial market. It has been a signatory of the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI) since 2014, and the Montréal Carbon Pledge since 2018. BLKB joined Swiss Sustainable Finance at the end of 2019.
The bank takes a proactive role in climate protection. It is a member of the Swiss cleantech business association, committed to a CO2-neutral economy in Switzerland. BLKB is also part of the Smart Regio Basel association, which – with members and partners from business, administration and science – is driving the Basel region towards smart city status.
BLKB recently collaborated with the Association of Swiss Cantonal Banks (VSKB) around sustainability consulting services. “Through our hands-on accompaniment, other organisations can benefit from our experience and our learnings,” concludes Schwald.
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