The National Bank of Bahrain (NBB) has celebrated a significant achievement in its ongoing sustainability journey after being awarded ‘The Middle East’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility’ by the Euromoney Awards for Excellence 2021 – the global financial sector’s most esteemed accolades across the region and the world.
NBB’s nomination came as a result of the significant strides made by the bank to integrate ESG principles into its framework, the positive initiatives delivered over the past year, as well as its continued market leadership and ongoing efforts to operate sustainably.
The bank was evaluated based on a set of criteria that measured NBB’s efforts throughout the year, assessing merits that fell under specific categories, including, contributions towards the community and individuals during Covid-19, Heritage Preservation, Enhancing the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, Diversity and Inclusion, Talent &Training, and Corporate Responsibility as part of ESG.
NBB has set many firsts in its quest for sustainability excellence as it strives to conduct business in a responsible manner, ensuring that its approach to sustainability is aligned to the UN SDGs, the Bahrain Bourse voluntary ESG Guideline, and Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030. The bank’s sustainability framework contains seven pillars: economic growth, responsible banking; serving customers; nurturing the workforce; community investment; preserving natural resources; and governance and ethical behaviour.
Commenting on the auspicious award, NBB Chairman Farouk Yousuf Khalil Almoayyed stated: “It gives us great pleasure to receive this honour from Euromoney, recognising NBB’s efforts as a leader in the field of sustainability. We are very proud of this accomplishment which stands testament to the efforts exerted by the Bank to transform NBB into an institution focused towards the future and a responsible, and conscientious entity that operates with a sustainable framework for generations to come. Today, NBB is reaping the rewards of its strategic shift as an ESG-driven, digitally capable, responsible and transparent banking institution with a unique value proposition for everyone it serves. I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Bank’s Board and management for their invaluable support and guidance, acting as role models and allowing the Bank to excel, and above all, to our customers for their unwavering loyalty and the people of NBB whose efforts have paved the way for the Bank’s numerous milestones including this regional accolade.”
Since 2019, NBB has been steadily introducing initiatives in line with its established ESG strategy and implementation roadmap, and has been paving the way to a complete integration of ESG guiding principles into its operations. With corporate responsibility as the driver of its strategy, the bank focused on strengthening its departments to maintain business sustainability and are well-positioned as a market benchmark in terms of compliance with regulations, corporate governance and risk management, by placing a foundation for the involved committees to further drive its future ESG plans.
Further commenting on the Euromoney awards, Jean-Christophe Durand, Chief Executive Officer of NBB, stated: “It is an honour for us at NBB to receive such recognition at a local and regional level. This award underlines the significant progress we have made in executing and bringing to life our responsible banking strategy, in line with our role as a national leader and avid contributor to the Kingdom’s long-term socio-economic wellbeing. The accolade underscores our achievements to-date and further pushes us to operate as part of Team Bahrain, adding value to society, and delivering on our brand promise to “Enrich the Lives of Generations” for years to come through our commitment to a more sustainable, transparent method of operation in the Kingdom and the region. I would like to thank our teams, board members, and particularly our customers for their vital role in making NBB who we are today, and for continuously supporting us on our growth path as we continue to make further progress.”
The bank had previously been awarded with ‘The Middle East’s Best Bank Transformation’ Award by Euromoney in 2020, as well as having received ‘Bahrain’s Best Bank’ honour for the second consecutive year in 2020.
Remarking on NBB winning ‘The Middle East’s Best Bank for Corporate Responsibility’ this year in the ESG category, Elliot Wilson, Editor at Euromoney, said: “Corporate responsibility is at the heart of what the National Bank of Bahrain does. It can actually be hard to find worthy projects, causes and charities that the Manama-based lender is not involved in funding and furthering.”
NBB has championed numerous environmental, social and governance initiatives as part of its Donations and Contributions Pillar over the years. The Bank has contributed significantly to the Kingdom’s socio-economic wellbeing at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing relief measures to numerous national campaigns to combat the Coronavirus such as ‘Feena Khair’, and donated to the Migrants Protection Society, among other initiatives to support the economy and the community in which it operates. NBB’s donations and contributions during the peak of the Coronavirus were estimated to have reached over BD3 million in the short span of six months.
In 2020, as the bank continued to focus on bolstering its training and development strategy, it was recognised in a case study conducted by Forbes, commending the Bank’s dedication to developing its human capital, and showcasing its ongoing efforts as best practice. The study showcased NBB’s continuous investment in its workforce, pointing out that the bank continued prioritising the development of its people despite the initial setbacks brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, and highlighted the provision of digital alternatives such as e-learning and virtual training, all driven and supported by the HR department and the entire executive team.
NBB was also formally recognised later in the same year by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), as an ‘Approved Employer,’ in acknowledgement of the bank’s efforts and commitment to providing learning and development opportunities which strengthen the accountancy skills of current and future employees. NBB is proudly the first Bank within the Kingdom to achieve the distinction, reiterating its promise of aiming to become a local Employer of Choice.
In November 2020, NBB ranked first in ESG compliance within the banking sector in Bahrain, and second on all sectors within the Kingdom, according to an annual ratings list published by ESG Invest. The ranking was a testament to NBB’s continuous efforts to enhance their ESG operational capacity during the year, working to create a more sustainable and responsible mode of banking, and bolstering its efforts towards becoming a regionally recognised sustainable banking and financial entity for generations to come.
The bank also worked to reduce its overall carbon footprint, resulting in NBB being the only constituent representing the Kingdom of Bahrain on the Refinitiv Arab Federation of Exchanges (“AFE”) Low Carbon Select Index, with NBB holding 0.89% of the total index weight. The national bank has also participated in international initiatives such as Earth Hour and Earth Day by encouraging and educating employees and the general public on how they can play an effective role in making a difference in the environment.
In another step to holistically integrate sustainability and the corresponding ESG pillars into its framework, the national bank produced its First Annual Financial and Sustainability Report for the year 2020. NBB’s Annual Financial and Sustainability Report highlights the bank’s goal to embed sustainability in the core of its business operations, taking fundamental reporting principles such as accuracy, completeness, and balance into account. The report covers some of the more apparent sustainability activities and performance data, based on recognisable ESG pillars of operation, to promote transparency and strengthen the bank’s position as a leading sustainable entity via ESG reporting.
For 2021, NBB aims to further develop ESG training programmes, build internal capabilities in high growth and high impact sectors, and promote ESG assessment within the bank’s financing and investing operations, the bank said. - TradeArabia News Service