Our Stakeholders and why they Matter So Much
Triodos Bank’s resilience is also bolstered by engaging proactively with our stakeholders. We have benefited from open discussions with our stakeholders for many years and in varied ways from client days connecting hundreds of customers in all the countries where we work, to depository receipt holder meetings and surveys. But while some organisations ask their stakeholders what they think they should do, and then do it, Triodos Bank takes a different approach.
Our starting point, for everything we do, is our essence. It is about who we are and is, therefore, one of our stakeholders. And it is key to our conversations with our stakeholders.
In this context, and in addition to numerous interactions with stakeholders during the year, we follow a formal process considered to be best practice by a large number of companies to create an analysis of the issues that are most important both to our stakeholders, and ourselves. This approach follows the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 guidelines.
Increasingly companies are encouraged to focus their sustainability reporting in this way, rather than reporting on a wide range of issues, some of which will be relatively unimportant to an institution’s overall impact. We welcome this focus on what is most material, rather than a broad check-list of more and less relevant factors. These issues are highlighted in a materiality analysis below following structured discussions with our stakeholders.
From our engagement activity it became clear that our stakeholders and Triodos Bank find many of the same issues important. As a result we could not identify any issues that were of very high importance to one party, and very low importance to another. This leads us to conclude that the bank and our stakeholder’s areas of interest are aligned. At the same time, among our stakeholders there is consistently more interest in what we ‘do’ as an organisation than how we behave in a responsible way as an institution.
Triodos Bank’s three stakeholder groups are defined as the following:
- Those that engage in an economic relationship 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, the media and the communities who benefit from our finance) 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.
This year’s materiality analysis is more international than last, including the results of a survey distributed in all the countries where we work. We also undertook five qualitative and professionally moderated individual interviews with stakeholders in Belgium as well as a stakeholder meeting with representatives from Triodos Bank’s three stakeholder groups, and individual interviews, hosted at Triodos Bank’s Head Office.
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), and delivering sustainable financial services, continue to be considered to be very important both by Triodos Bank and its stakeholders. We share some of our stakeholders’ interest in adapting our approach to risk, where appropriate, to increase our impact overall. Our focus on innovation is, in part, a response to this shared goal.
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 because this can amplify our impact, by influencing the debate about how to improve the banking system for example. 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 .
It is notable that being a pan-European bank was a relatively low priority for our stakeholders in the survey. However, when tested in an in-person meeting stakeholders attached considerable importance to Triodos Bank’s European presence. A high proportion of respondents couldn’t, or didn’t, answer this question in the survey, suggesting it may not have been well understood. As a result its importance to stakeholders may be underestimated on the analysis in the graphic here.
Unlike larger mainstream banks, remuneration was once again a relatively low priority for our stakeholders and the bank. This may reflect satisfaction with 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 .
We will use the results of this stakeholder engagement activity, as well as the examples detailed here, directly in the development of our strategic objectives. The results will also inform our work more generally throughout the year, as a reference for new ideas and the development of existing activity. In particular, longer-term we intend to deepen our stakeholder engagement activity in general, and will use this work as a basis from which to progress this work.