Our understanding of sustainability is taken from Our Common Future” UN Brundtland Commission 1986), which states that “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
For Erste Group, sustainable economic activity means creating added value for people, the environment and for the communities in which we operate. This approach is specifically implemented in 3 areas:
„Diversity“ – we are convinced that the uniqueness of individuals (age, gender, cultural background) is essential for finding innovative solutions and for business success.
„Environment“ – we strive to have a direct positive impact on the management of natural resources and indirectly through our business dealings.
„Social responsibility“ – we are committed as Bank to finance cultural and social activities but also by encouraging our employees to personally engage in their communities.
Erste Group is aware that each product sold to a customer, each financing decision made, and the use of resources for office operations all have an effect on our environment. This awareness has been implemented in Erste Group’s environment strategy.
Companies that are committed to diversity and integration benefit from motivated employees, a more positive brand image and greater customer satisfaction. Innovation and sustainable success are based on the different skills, levels of experience and perspectives of our employees. Erste Group sees diversity as an important component of its corporate strategy, which is also taken into account in the selection and promotion of talent. The individuality and diversity of our employees play an important part in fulfilling the needs of our diverse range of customers. In the context of our diversity principle, we concentrate on equality of female and male employees in management positions, the work-life balance and the promotion of different generations and cultures.
Sponsoring as we understand is the voluntary promotion and support of institutions, initiatives and projects in the cultural, social and education areas. The ExtraVALUE Programme is our commitment to social responsibility and to values that our enterprise deems worthy of support and promotion.
Sponsoring as we understand it is ExtraVALUE sponsoring.
The Erste Financial Life Park, known as “FLiP”, is a facility unique in the world which is aimed at improving the financial skills of children and young people. Located on the Erste Campus in Vienna, FLiP is a place where financial knowledge is conveyed in an innovative way and where the importance of finance as part of personal life planning can be experienced. FLiP is thereby promoting personal financial responsibility, providing the means of avoiding individual debt, and ultimately also contributing to the prevention of poverty. FLiP offers an integrative approach, providing barrier-free multilingual access to financial education for all types of schools and all levels of education. It is an independent facility without any marketing or sales purpose. The objectivity of its content is ensured by an academic advisory panel of experts from the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Stanford University, the Austrian debt advisory service and OECD.
As an institution, we want to have a positive impact on the prosperity and future of our region. We do this in our daily work with our clients, as well as through the social engagement of our Group and our employees. The Time Bank is based on the idea that money is not the only currency that one can spend. Very often personal engagement and hands-on help is needed much more. The goal of Time Bank is to make social engagement easy and uncomplicated for our employees. For years, many colleagues have made an important contribution to civil society by volunteering their time with our partner organizations, as well as providing donations in-kind.
There are an estimated 40,000 people in Austria who no longer have a bank account. For various reasons (mostly unemployment, divorce or illness) they have slipped into a state of social or economic need, and in the end they have also lost their bank account. ERSTE Foundation has therefore set up Zweite Sparkasse, which offers people who have lost their bank account a credit balance account without any overdraft facility. However, this is only the first step on the way to a life without debt, which each individual has to travel by their own efforts.
ERSTE Foundation was established in 2003 on the basis of “Erste österreichische Spar-Casse”. It carries the public welfare principle on which the Sparkassen banks are based into the present age. As an Austrian savings bank private foundation, it is committed to non-profit activity on the one hand, and at the same time holds special responsibility as the main shareholder of Erste Group.
ERSTE Foundation is a powerful partner of a strong and self-confident civil society in Central and South-Eastern Europe. It invests part of its dividends in strengthening civil society, the inclusion of socially disadvantaged groups and the support of contemporary, socially engaged art.
The starting point of non-financial reporting is a materiality analysis. With the involvement of the relevant stakeholders (customers, employees, investors, society, environment, suppliers), matters of economic, ecological and social relevance that are of material importance to Erste Group are identified.
Which topics are relevant for which interest groups and how we treat them can be found in the materiality analysis as part of our Annual Report. You can download it here:
The Code of Conduct provides a reference point for our actions and behaviour and serves as a binding set of rules governing the behaviour for our daily business activities.
It describes what is important to us and makes our commitments clear and sets the basis to act as a good corporate citizen. The Code of Conduct shows that we need to act responsibly, respectfully and sustainably in all aspects of our operations.
Regulation (EU) 2019/2088 on sustainability‐related disclosures
Erste Group fulfils the disclosure obligations resulting out of Regulation 2019/2088 on sustainability-related disclosures in the financial services sector by making available the following documents on its website:
Erste Group, as one of the leading financial institutions in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and with its historic background, has an inherent responsibility for broader sustainability and ESG risks toward the society. ESG risk identification like potential environmental damages, severe negative social consequences or poor governance have always been an integral part of Erste Group business and risk management framework. With the rising urgency and accelerating climate change, Erste Group will manage the ESG risks in a more holistic approach, implement a systematic ESG data collection and integrate ESG risk in a pronounced way into the capital management framework. The Group ESG Risk Definition Policy provides definition of ESG risks of Erste Group through positive impact aimed ESG objectives laying down the basis of business alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and definition of ESG Risks, which are addressing the negative impacts and to be identified, assessed and mitigated through policies and procedures.
The Remuneration Policy is fully aligned with the Group ESG Risk Definition Policy. When setting, approving and overseeing the implementation of a remuneration policy that is in line with the remuneration principles set out in Directive 2013/36/EU and the EBA guidelines on sound remuneration policies, the management body aims at ensuring a sustainable business model that takes into account all risks, including environmental, social and governance risks. Furthermore, variable remuneration of the designated Management Board members is linked to the ESG objectives based on the principles of Erste Group’s sustainability strategy and part of the variable remuneration of designated Management Board members depends on fulfillment of ESG targets.
Erste Group Sustainable Finance Framework & Second Party Opinion
Erste Group's sustainable finance framework reflects the bank's strong commitment to its ecological and social responsibility in society. The framework defines the scope of sustainable project categories with either environmental and/or social aspects for which money on the bond market will be used. An independent Second Party Opinion conducted by ESG rating agency ISS ESG certifies the full alignment with best-practice approaches in the market.
Policy for Erste Group’s Environmental, Energy & Climate Strategy
Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important in communicating with stakeholders. In our environmental, energy and climate strategy, you can find out how Erste Group handles this important topic.
In 2012, for the first time, reduction targets for energy and paper consumption and CO2 emissions at the end of 2016 were set at Group level and largely met or exceeded. In 2021, new environmental targets will be set to meet our responsibility to avoid climate change.
Erste Group Bank AG has been part of the Euronext Vigeo Index Eurozone 120 since June 2018.
This index contains companies that provide the most advanced environmental, social and governance services. The index components are reviewed every 6 months in December and June.
FTSE Russell (the brand name of FTSE International Limited and Frank Russell Company) confirms that Erste Group Bank AG has been independently rated in accordance with the FTSE4Good criteria and has met the requirements to become a part of the FTSE4Good Index Series. Developed by global index provider FTSE Russell, the FTSE4Good Index Series measures the performance of companies with strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. The FTSE4Good indices are used by a variety of market participants to create and value responsible investment funds and other products.
Erste Group Bank has been part of the FTSE4Good Index Series since 2016.
At the beginning of 2019 imug Investment Research raised the rating for Erste Group from neutral to positive, and public sector covered bonds (Öffentliche Pfandbriefe) are now rated as very positive.
In 2019, Erste Group Bank AG received a rating of AA (on a scale of AAA-CCC) in the MSCI ESG Ratings assessment.
The use by Erste Group Bank AG of any MSCI ESG Research LLC or its affiliates (“MSCI”) data, and the use of MSCI logos, trademarks, service marks or index names herein, do not constitute a sponsorship, endorsement, recommendation, or promotion of Erste Group Bank AG by MSCI. MSCI services and data are the property of MSCI or its information providers, and are provided ‘as-is’ and without warranty. MSCI names and logos are trademarks or service marks of MSCI.
In February 2021, Sustainalytics, a leading ESG research, ratings and data firm, assessed Erste Group to be at low risk of experiencing material financial impacts from ESG factors.
Tax policy and anti corruption
As one of the leading financial service providers in Central and Eastern Europe, we have a greater responsibility - also in dealing with the state and tax authorities. Therefore, we undertake not to choose aggressive tax practices or support third-party tax avoidance models. The Group Tax Code of Conduct sets out these basic principles.
Erste Group is a responsible tax payer, paying the amount of taxes legally due in any territory, in accordance with local legislation and international accepted principles. Please find more information in our Tax Code of Conduct.
Here is an overview of the incurred taxes on Erste Group's income in the various countries in 2020 in EUR thousand:
Source: Annual report 2020
Erste Group makes every effort to avoid corruption and conflicts of interest. These range from various mandatory and voluntary employee training courses, risk assessments for outsourcing activities to the setting of proactive measures to identify and avoid conflicts of interest and corruption.
The fight against corruption is a logical consequence of our Code of Conduct, in which we commit ourselves to comply with all legal regulations and framework conditions. Erste Group has been operating the whistleblowing system "Erste Integrity" since 2014, in which anonymous criminal cases and breaches of banking supervisory law can be reported. The outward sign of our commitment is also our membership in "Transparency International", in which our Chairman of the Supervisory Board, DI. Mag. Rödler, is on the Executive Board of the Austrian Chapter.