Corporate sustainability is certainly no longer a new business concept. Although it initially functioned more as a marketing buzzword, with the rapidly worsening climate conditions, there has been increasing pressure from the general public, employees, clientele, investors, shareholders, and business partners for companies to act more responsibly. Companies are therefore forced to look for solutions to respond transparently to these demands, while the demand for efficient and user-friendly corporate sustainability software is growing.
The gradually increasing interest in transparency of corporate sustainability strategies and concrete steps to reduce the impact has been observed for some time by VUB bank, a subsidiary of the Italian group Intesa Sanpaolo. The bank’s wide range of stakeholders, which provides a full range of banking services to residential, corporate, and institutional clients, requires a specific approach to engage stakeholders in the right way with corporate sustainability.
Currently, VUB bank is one of the most active clients using the SmartHead software not only to engage stakeholders in corporate sustainability, but also to gradually incorporate ESG (environmental-social-governance) management and hard data reporting, which SmartHead enables as an official GRI Software & Tool Partner. On the SmartHead platform, you will already find more than 150 activities by VUB bank aimed at supporting communities, as well as improving the well-being of its employees and the environment.
Communicating sustainability on social media is no longer enough
As the first green bank in Slovakia, VUB bank has been taking sustainability seriously in its corporate strategy for 16 years. The company has been continuously setting and gradually expanding sustainability principles in individual areas, but with the adoption of the Green Manifest in December 2020, VUB bank has significantly renewed its sustainability strategy, especially in the environmental section. However, one of the main challenges was how to communicate their strategy and actions to stakeholders.
Despite its involvement in many sustainable activities, VUB bank wasn’t using any dedicated CSR/sustainability software. The bank primarily used online communication channels (FB, Instagram, their own website) to communicate these activities, but these did not provide an overview of all activities and did not meet the requirement for a quantified measurement of engagement with the general public, employees, clients, or shareholders over time. In addition, the channels did not allow the attribution of specific SDGs – UN Sustainable Development Goals – or the impacts that the activities reduced or supported. This created an opaque picture of the overall strategy in sustainability and its implementation.
“The opportunity to become part of SmartHead in 2021 fit in well with the renewal of the ESG strategy that came with the adoption of the Green Manifest at VUB bank. SmartHead’s software appealed to us in particular for its ability to have all activities in one place, to quantify them, and most importantly, to deliver them easily and clearly to our stakeholders. An important part of this is the ability to send notifications of our activities internally within the bank. Last but not least, we like to inspire ourselves by other companies’ best practices, and already with the help of SmartHead, we have found synergies between our bank and other companies, for example in supporting the Upracme Slovensko event.” says Lucia Macko, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, on the main reasons why VUB bank decided to use SmartHead software.
With SmartHead, VUB bank has found a “smart” solution for corporate sustainability
The main challenge that SmartHead helped solve at VUB bank was to bring clarity to the company’s specific activities. Using the Sustainability Profile to manage corporate sustainability allowed VUB bank to categorise activities not only by the time they were added, but also by the focus area of the activity, the individual SDGs, and the impact of the activity, not only for the bank itself, but also for employees and clients.
The simplicity and user-friendliness of SmartHead allows even technologically inexperienced stakeholders to not only browse VUB bank’s activities easily, but also to see what impact these activities create globally. Employees, clients, shareholders, or other stakeholders can also download reports and publicly available corporate sustainability documents such as the Green Manifest. Activities can also be shared on the company’s social networks with just a few clicks. In addition, VUB actively uses a marketing kit from SmartHead, which allows visitors on the corporate website to access VUB bank’s Sustainability Profile.
“SmartHead is a truly “smart” software. User-friendly and clear, easy to use not only for ourselves, but especially for our employees, clients and shareholders. We often found that on social media; corporate sustainability posts could not be separated from other posts. With SmartHead, our stakeholders have the possibility to go through all the activities we had worked on easily, or they can immediately see which activities are ongoing and those in which they can participate. The feedback functionality is extremely valuable, because we can see what type of stakeholder has sent us feedback, and we know exactly what we need to focus on in sustainability,” says Lucia Macko about the advantages of SmartHead software.
In addition, beneath the surface, SmartHead holds a clear system for tracking stakeholder activity on VUB bank’s Sustainability Profile. Individual profile administrators have access to up-to-date statistics on activity tracking, profile visits, breakdown of stakeholders into individual groups (client, employee, public, business partner…), as well as comparisons with the market or well-done points, SmartHead’s version of likes.
Since SmartHead does not have a limit on the number of Sustainability Profile administrators, the software can be used cross-departmentally. An internal survey at VUB bank showed that the CSR department and the Marketing and Corporate Communications department, together with the VUB Foundation, use the software most often. However, with the coming extension of the use of SmartHead in ESG reporting, it is anticipated that employees from Risk, Product, ESG, and many others such as analysts will also work with the software.
VUB bank is already preparing for the introduction of ESG reporting. In accordance with the legislation, VUB is reporting data at the consolidated level of the parent bank Intesa Sanpaolo, but it is also preparing for its own reporting, especially in the environmental area, which will start next year. At the same time, the bank will begin to prepare for the arrival of the Corporate Social Responsibility Directive, for which data collection is to start as early as 2023. The Bank will therefore once again increase its level of transparency, openness, and credibility for Slovak stakeholders.
“We always refer employees to SmartHead who express an interest in social topics to help other people or nature. Afterwards, they usually get back to us with a nice message, that they did not expect VUB bank to be so actively involved in socially responsible initiatives. We also see the impact of using SmartHead software in the recruitment process. More and more candidates are interested in how the company approaches corporate sustainability, and SmartHead represents an ideal opportunity where candidates can learn everything about our activities,” Lucia Macko, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, VUB bank.
How SmartHead made VUB bank’s corporate sustainability more efficient and transparent
Transparency and openness play a key role in corporate sustainability. When rebooting its sustainability strategy, VUB bank found that SmartHead software enabled it to make its overall corporate sustainability communication transparent. Employees, shareholders, partners, and clients were able to find all activities in one place with associated impacts and SDGs, while VUB gained an overview of which stakeholders are interested in their corporate sustainability, valuable feedback, and clear corporate sustainability statistics.
VUB bank is currently one of SmartHead’s leading clients and the most active company on SmartHead. It only proves that VUB bank is a truly green bank with sustainability sewn right into its DNA.
“We are very satisfied with the use of SmartHead software to communicate socially responsible topics in which VUB bank is involved. The company has found a unique space on the market. However, apart from the software, we see the approach and communication of the company’s management and all employees as a big plus. Prompt solutions, willingness to improve, and approach to the client is very crucial in today’s business and will carry weight in deepening the cooperation between supplier and customer. SmartHead clearly possesses all these qualities, and we are sincerely looking forward to our mutual cooperation.” Lucia Macko, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, VUB bank.
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