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CSR at the heart of the Group’s strategy

BNP Paribas places its CSR commitments at the heart of its strategic priorities.

The Group’s Executive Committee takes decisions on CSR issues several times a year and, in each entity, the CSR manager is a member of its executive committee. In 2014, senior managers were invited to debate the topic “What does being a responsible bank mean today?” with Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, several representatives of the Executive Committee and a member of the Board of Directors.

WHAT DOES BEING A RESPONSIBLE BANK MEAN TODAY?

Photo : FIELDS WICKER-MIURIN.

FIELDS WICKER-MIURIN, MEMBER OF THE BNP PARIBAS BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND PARTNER AT LEADERS’QUEST LONDON (UNITED KINGDOM)

“BEING THE LEADER AMONG LEADERS”

What is your opinion of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

I think it’s very easy in this world to be cynical about CSR. Most companies probably are still at the stage where they don’t make it to indices; they are still at the stage where CSR is just an empty phrase: lovely words, maybe a beautiful brochure filled with smiling faces but it’s not authentic. When I look at companies, when I look at leaders and people and I think about responsibility I am looking for something very different than the empty phrases. I am looking for what is underneath the surface, things that may not be evident, may not be quantifiable but that drive everything that’s on the surface. So I look at decisions and how decisions are made. I look at the behaviours of the people in the company at all levels. I look at the values that define those behaviours and that define the identity of the organisation.

How to be a responsible bank?

Over the years I have identified three requirements that I think underpin a bank’s ability to be truly responsible. The first is clarity of identity, values and purpose. Being responsible is having very clear answers to those questions. The second is understanding what I call the “license to operate”, that is to say the license that every stakeholder demands of us, usually not explicitly. And third is to think and to operate as what I call an “AND bank”, not an “OR bank”. I don’t think we can be responsible in today’s world if we are only one-dimensional. The world is too complex, too multidimensional to be one-dimensional in how we measure success. It is not enough just to be profitable. We need to be both profitable and responsible.

What are the next steps for BNP Paribas?

I think BNP Paribas has done a lot, and I think there’s more work to be done. The bank has to keep asking itself about its license to operate. The Group works in seventy-five countries around the world; every country will be different, every market will be different. How well does BNP Paribas really understand the societies and the communities in which it operates and whom it serves? It is important to keep asking the question, and BNP Paribas has to be responsive and lead the way. I think there is a real desire among employees to be part of the journey and to help create the next phase of this bank: to be not only the leading bank in the CSR indices but also the leader among leaders.