Engaging with our stakeholders has been very important to Triodos Bank for many years. We have benefited from open discussions with our stakeholders, including clients, in varied ways from client days connecting hundreds of customers in all the countries where we work, to depository receipt holder meetings and surveys. This year we introduced a formal process creating an analysis of the issues that are most important both to our stakeholders, and ourselves.
Increasingly companies are encouraged to focus their sustainability reporting in this way (via initiatives like the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 reporting), rather than reporting on a wide range of issues, some of which will be relatively unimportant to an institution’s overall impact.
For Triodos Bank, unlike most other organisations, these sustainability issues are integrated in the core business itself. As such many of the most important are reflected in the strategic objectives table that follows the analysis, and are regularly commented on throughout this report.
Given that we are only focused on impact investing Triodos Bank and our stakeholders take a different approach to many conventional banks. Rather than focusing on what we do and do not do, our ‘materiality analysis’ concentrates on how we do it. So, for instance, because our starting point is to use money consciously to contribute to the positive development of society, we are interested in acting as a reference point, or ‘thought leader’, amplifying our impact on the banking industry to encourage it to become more diversified, transparent and sustainable.
The materiality analysis is built around a survey, a stakeholder meeting with representatives from Triodos Bank’s three stakeholder groups, and individual interviews. Triodos Bank’s three stakeholder groups are defined as the following:
- Those that engage in economic transactions with the business (e.g. customers, depository receipt holders, co-workers and suppliers)
- Those that don’t engage in economic transactions, but who maintain a close interest in Triodos Bank (e.g. NGOs, governments and the media) from a societal perspective
- Those that provide new insights and knowledge (e.g. advisors and inspirers), prompting us to reflect, rethink and explore new territory.
While the analysis was made from a corporate perspective and not just in the Dutch context, it primarily involved individuals from The Netherlands. We intend to ‘internationalise’ this project next year with more detailed discussion with stakeholders from all the countries where Triodos Bank operates.
The results suggest Triodos Bank’s stakeholders want and expect Triodos to continue to be a leader in sustainable finance, with a strategy that reflects and supports its mission. In addition, impact investments (in this sense combining both lending and investing in sustainable enterprises; from renewable energy businesses to organic projects), and delivering sustainable financial services, are considered to be very important both by Triodos Bank and its stakeholders.
The analysis shows our stakeholders think it is important that Triodos Bank acts as a thought leader in values-based banking. We also believe Triodos Bank should play a role in this way, acting as a reference point for the banking sector. We also share the priority that our stakeholders give to helping our borrowing clients to become even more sustainable. You can find examples, including interviews with borrowers, in the .
Unlike larger mainstream banks, remuneration has a relatively low priority for our stakeholders and the bank. This may reflect the prevailing approach to remuneration at Triodos Bank and suggests that its policy is well understood. Triodos Bank does not offer bonuses and has a relatively low difference between the highest and lowest salary, for example. For more details of our remuneration policy and a more in-depth analysis of the results, please see the .