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A landmark year for Westpac’s sustainability performance

 

12 November 2014

Westpac Group today released its 2014 Annual Review & Sustainability Report which provides insights into its sustainability performance across a series of environmental, social and economic performance indicators over the 2014 financial year.

Christine Parker, Westpac Group Executive, Human Resources & Corporate Affairs said 2014 had been a landmark year for the Group’s sustainability performance.

“Westpac Group’s strong track record in embracing sustainable business practices continued during the year,” Ms Parker said. 

“We met or exceeded most of the targets we’ve set, showing that our commitment to sustainability is deeply embedded in our business processes, our culture and our operational strategy.

“Women in leadership roles in the Group increased from 42% to 44%; our lending to the CleanTech and environmental services sector reached $8 billion, well in excess of our $6 billion pledge; and we completed our largest single affordable housing finance transaction,” she said.

“We also launched our most ambitious Reconciliation Action Plan yet, and established the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation – a $100 million fund aiming to support 100 education scholarships a year, forever. We are particularly proud of this initiative.

“These valuable outcomes reflect the outstanding efforts of our 36,000 employees, who are working every day to achieve our vision of helping our customers, communities and people prosper and grow.”

2014 Sustainability Strategy Highlights

Westpac Group’s 2013-17 Sustainability Strategy (released February 2013) encompasses 10 objectives in three priority areas - embracing societal change, environmental solutions and better financial futures.  Highlights are listed below, with full details available in the report.

Embracing Societal Change

  • 44% of Westpac Group’s leadership roles are now held by women, up from 42% last year, placing the Group in a strong position as it works towards its aspirational target of 50% by 2017
  • New products and services were introduced to support the financial wellbeing of ageing and culturally diverse customers.

Environmental Solutions

  • Westpac Group’s lending to the CleanTech and environmental services sector increased to $8 billion, driven by strong growth in the greening of the property sector well ahead of its target of making available up to $6 billion to this sector by 2017
  • New products and services were introduced to help customers adapt to environmental challenges, including working with the World Bank to bring the first green bond to the Australian market
  • The Group’s reduced its direct environmental footprint, having met its energy consumption reduction and power usage effectiveness targets. Office paper use fell by 108 tonnes, exceeding the 2017 target, and an ambitious new target has been set to reduce it by a further 158 tonnes by 2017.

Better Financial Futures

  • Westpac Group increased lending to the social and affordable housing sector by 26%, in line with its commitment to make up to $2 billion available to this sector by 2017
  • In the Pacific, the Group’s low cost technology solutions have improved access to financial services, with Pacific Islanders opening around 77,000 new Basic Banking accounts during the year; and more than 23,000 Pacific Islanders participated in the Group’s free financial education workshops.

Enhanced disclosure

Westpac Group continued to focus on strengthening its approach to disclosure during the year as industry standards and frameworks develop. The Group introduced reporting on the emissions intensity of its infrastructure and utilities portfolio and breakdowns of lending to the natural resources and CleanTech and environmental services sectors. The intent of this new reporting is to more effectively show the Group’s approach to managing climate change risks across its business and how it is supporting the transition to a low carbon economy over time.

Westpac Group has also released its updated Climate Change and Environment Position Statement and 2017 Action Plan, which includes further information on the Group’s approach to climate change and environmental governance, risk management and strategic oversight. 

Global recognition

The strength of Westpac Group’s sustainability performance has been recognised globally, having been assessed as the highest ranked bank globally on the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the as the Most Sustainable Corporation in the World in the Corporate Knights 2014 Global 100 list.