By Karen Peetz, President, BNY Mellon –
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has significantly evolved in the past decade. We now see CEOs and boards recognize that a company’s responsibility to—and impact on—society does not end at community support and environmental initiatives. Companies are increasingly aligning their CSR strategy with their business purpose, creating a broad interdisciplinary approach with a potentially greater impact.
At BNY Mellon, social responsibility is deeply imbedded in who we are as a company. Our CSR practices earn the trust of our clients and other stakeholders, promote transparency, and encourage innovation for and investment in a better world. For example, recently we formalized a focus on investment activity that includes both financial returns and positive social and environmental impact, called social finance. We recognized the potential for investors to protect and generate long-term value, while helping drive positive social and environmental change.
As we expanded our focus on CSR efforts, we identified three principles for CSR success: align social responsibility with the company’s core business strategies; articulate a clear CSR vision; and regularly assess and evaluate the CSR strategy.
Companies align CSR with their core purpose by developing interdisciplinary CSR strategies that are mutually reinforcing and aligned with the company’s role, brand and values. This makes it easier to integrate social responsibility within a business. For BNY Mellon, risk management is among our highest priorities. We have a responsibility to our clients, the financial markets and society to effectively identify and mitigate risk. We emphasize that commitment by explicitly connecting risk and reliability to our CSR strategy.
In successful CSR programs, leadership recognizes the need to articulate a clear vision. We developed a framework to guide our initiatives and our employees by crystallizing a CSR statement:
Corporate social responsibility is crucial to how we fulfill our role as a major global financial institution. At BNY Mellon, we are invested in market integrity, our people and our world. Our clients trust us every day with their investments, and we depend on our talented and diverse workforce to meet client needs with the highest standards of excellence and integrity. That’s why it’s important that we build an inclusive and supportive environment where our people are empowered to contribute and succeed. Together, we can contribute to the resiliency of global markets and solutions for some of the world’s most pressing issues, building healthy economies and sustainable communities over time.
Once the business and CSR strategies are aligned and the CSR vision is established, it’s important to regularly assess and evaluate the CSR strategy to ensure it remains current and focuses on the most critical and relevant CSR areas. In 2014, BNY Mellon refreshed its 2011 materiality assessment and added social finance, as a result. Our strategic focus on social finance is based on our experience with socially responsible investing and ESG integration, as well as our market infrastructure expertise. Company-wide product development is underway to meet clients’ growing interest in social finance.
Strategy does not end with business capabilities. It also includes partnering with leading organizations to conduct research, contribute to the conversation and advance the field. BNY Mellon began a partnership with the United Nations Foundation (UNF) in 2014 to support the inclusion of a robust goal calling for broad access to rule of law within the forthcoming post-2015 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). BNY Mellon has joined top-tier legal and consulting organizations to create metrics for the UN and its member states to use in measuring success in the implementation of rule of law. We look to advance the rule of law within the SDGs, helping to impact trillions of dollars in investments and billions of lives between 2016 and 2030.
Our CSR efforts have resulted in our company being named to the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World), one of the most highly regarded global sustainability indices. Our business alignment, guiding vision and continuous recalibration of our CSR strategy have allowed us to be among the leaders in CSR. We are excited to explore and pioneer new opportunities to strengthen our impact. It is the right thing to do and it is good for business.