In an era when the bank down the street is often headquartered in another country, the question of a company’s social license to operate has taken on new meaning. In this context, Australia-based ANZ asked BSR to apply its expertise in stakeholder relations in Asia as a key enabler of its strategy for expanding into new markets in the region. The company, which has a strong history of corporate responsibility at home, sought input on how to develop a new, groupwide corporate responsibility strategy to align with its business growth strategy, focusing on new target markets in China, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
We developed and executed a regional stakeholder dialogue plan for ANZ to help the company understand expectations for a responsible bank in these markets.
This included planning and facilitating eight separate engagements in Beijing, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, and Jakarta. We identified the more than 55 stakeholder organizations that participated, including representatives from local and national government, multilateral institutions, peer companies, consumer protection organizations, environmental and labor NGOs, and others. We drew on BSR’s expertise in the industry and in the region, our stakeholder network, and our knowledge of advanced facilitation techniques.
The events yielded critical information on ANZ’s most material social and environmental risks and opportunities in these new regions, and also identified opportunities to build new relationships with stakeholders who will be critical to the bank’s social license to operate. Key themes such as urban sustainability, bridging urban and rural divides, and building financial capability emerged directly from these engagements and became core elements of the company’s new strategy.
Based on the dialogues, additional BSR research, and a two-day strategy workshop we facilitated with the company’s corporate responsibility team, BSR helped ANZ develop a new companywide corporate responsibility framework, and BSR CEO Aron Cramer joined ANZ CEO Michael Smith in the launch of the strategy in September 2009. The framework focuses on:
- Building individual prosperity: using products, services, education, and employment programs to create pathways to security and prosperity
- Contributing to thriving communities: developing local capacity to create solutions for important community issues
- Navigating growth responsibly: demonstrating responsible practices and decisions that balance economic, social, and environmental considerations
The company is now working on developing specific programs to support the framework and implementation at the country level. This includes providing specific tools and resources for bank leadership in these new markets, as well as a new network of local stakeholders who understand ANZ’s objectives and can support responsible market entry or expansion in these countries. This new platform will add value to the company’s existing work as it expands. It will also add consistency through more focused activities and communications, as ANZ implements its strategy of becoming a super-regional bank in the Asia-Pacific region.