What we heard
A key finding in our original 2019 Public and Stakeholder Consultation Report was a sense from respondents that banks have a critical role to play in supporting communities and society as a whole and that the sector did not always fulfil this role well. This was particularly felt in rural Ireland and by customers who may be in a vulnerable position.
IBCB member banks recognise their unique role in society and each of our five member banks has established programmes focussing on how best to play this role and contribute to local communities and wider society in which they operate. Given the importance of this issue to the IBCB’s purpose, we established Citizenship and Society as our 3rd core pillar of activity during the year under review.
What we did
In mid-2020 we commissioned independent research through Gibney Communications to better understand the views and banking needs of specific cohorts in society, to inform our next steps in contributing to delivering positive banking change for communities and societies in Ireland.
The research project aimed to gather the views of bank branch staff and customers based in rural communities, key stakeholders and advocacy groups representing those in rural/ farming communities, those living with disabilities, SMEs, those in vulnerable positions and marginalised groups, through qualitative interviews, focus groups and some limited desk research.
The research was conducted between June and September 2020 and as a result the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on individuals, businesses and communities is very evident in the findings. Several of the findings are similar to those themes identified in the IBCB 2019 Public and Stakeholder Consultation report.
The IBCB working group met to review the findings and identify priority actions in January 2021. The agreed key areas of focus for 2021 are:
- Customers living with a disability: specifically, those with cognitive difficulties in the first phase of the project, with the aim of improving awareness and accessibility.
- Customers for whom English is not their first language, whereby it can be difficult to ascertain customers’ awareness of financial products, particularly when making major financial decisions.
- Access to the basic bank account.This is seen as an enabler for those in financial difficulty as well as marginalised groups who may experience financial exclusion.
Plans are currently under development and updates will be included on this website.
Basic Bank Account Guide
Irish Banking Culture Board launches guide to Basic Bank Account supporting financial inclusion and access to banking.
IBCB announces partnership with Safe Ireland for financial literacy for people impacted by domestic violence.
United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking
The IBCB is proud to endorse the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking. These Principles provide a framework to ensure that the strategies and business practices of Banks align with UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Signatory banks commit to embedding the Principles in their business and to carry out impact assessments, developing specific commitments, setting targets, and reporting on these targets.
We believe these Principles are an important commitment from the banking sector to promote an environment where ethical behaviour is at the heart of banking. The Principles are closely aligned to the purpose of the IBCB; to work with member banks to build trustworthiness in order to assist the industry in regaining public trust.
Central to the UN Principles is a focus on sustainable banking practices which consider the needs of society and customers, to engage proactively and responsibly with stakeholders, to ensure transparency, accountability, effective governance, and a culture of responsible banking. The six UN Principles for Responsible Banking are:
- Impact and target setting;
- Clients & customers;
- Governance & culture;
- Transparency & accountability.
Further information on the UNEP Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking is available at https://www.unepfi.org/
Women In Finance Charter
The IBCB is proud to support Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter. The Charter underpins the financial services industry’s ambition to see increased participation of women at all levels, including junior, middle, and senior management, leadership and board roles within financial services organisations based in Ireland. We know that more diverse and inclusive workforces lead to diversity of thought and better decision-making in organisations. The IBCB’s 2021 Éist survey of bank culture highlights perspectives from bank staff on equal opportunities in the industry. Women make up a higher proportion of junior grades and a lower proportion of senior grades. This is reflective of the global financial services sector but fostering and developing the careers of women in the banking industry will help recruit and retain talented staff and will contribute to a more inclusive and diverse industry, benefiting organisations and wider business community and society as a whole.
For more information on the charter, click https://www.betterbalance.ie/partners/