In 2009, Handelsbanken signed the UN Global Compact, an initiative aimed at companies which advocates 10 principles based on international conventions. These principles, established in 2000, include human rights, labour laws, the environment and anti-corruption.
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has developed guidelines for sustainable development. The purpose is to provide companies worldwide with a framework and tools to develop their sustainability work. The guidelines are based on national and international sustainability standards. Handelsbanken has complied with the ICC guidelines since the 1990s.
UN PRI (United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment Initiatives) was launched in 2006. It is a network of investors and service providers that work together with the UN to implement principles for responsible investment. Its aim is to promote responsible actions among institutional investors and to work for increased openness and awareness of environmental, social and corporate governance issues in the companies in which these players invest. Handelsbanken became a signatory to the principles in 2009. In total, some 1,450 capital owners, asset managers and other stakeholders – managing almost USD 70 billion in all – have become signatories.
UN Environment Programme has a special organisation that works on how the capital markets can promote the adoption of best practices for the environment and sustainability. Some 200 financial institutions which support the initiative contribute to research into and knowledge of how sustainability aspects can be integrated into financial decisions. Handelsbanken has been a member of UNEP FI since the mid-1990s.
CDP is an independent international non-profit organisation which works for transparency and dialogue on companies’ environmental impacts and to make such information available to investors. More than 5,600 organisations in more than 90 countries all over the world measure and report their environmental impacts through CDP. CDP acts on behalf of more than 800 institutional investors, of which Handelsbanken has been one since 2015..
In 2016, Handelsbanken adopted the Equator Principles. The Principles are a framework that provides guidance to financial institutions for assessing social and environmental risks in project finance. The Equator Principles were formally launched in 2003, but over the years they have been updated to better support members in identifying, assessing and managing environmental and social risks when financing projects.
The initiative is run by a secretariat of more than 80 members representing financial institutions from 36 countries. The members undertake to implement the principles in their internal guidelines, processes and procedures for project finance, and to report annually on projects which have been assessed or financed based on the framework.
Application of the Equator Principles
World Childhood Foundation
Since 2010, Handelsbanken has supported the World Childhood Foundation. This foundation works to stop violence and sexual abuse of children. The foundation wants to ensure that all children are able to develop into strong, confident, responsible people. Its work mainly focuses on those children who are often forgotten; children who live on the streets, in institutions or in a family where the parents are not the type of secure and trustworthy adults that a child really needs.
IIn 2009, Handelsbanken, together with the Swedish Bankers’ Association, started co-operating with ECPAT Sweden. Since 2015, the Bank has intensified its collaboration with ECPAT. The overall objective is to prevent exploitation of children by obstructing and preventing monetary transactions that are linked to the commercial sexual exploitation of children. As part of Handelsbanken’s work with corporate social responsibility, we integrate a preventative working method into our operations, in order to contribute to our stance against commercial sexual exploitation of children.
ECPAT Sweden is a part of ECPAT International, which has member organisations in more than 80 countries. ECPAT is working to prevent and stop all forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children: child sexual abuse material, travelling offenders (child sex tourism) and trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
Handelsbanken has been a member of the Swedish Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (the Financial Coalition) since 2009. The Financial Coalition works to obstruct and prevent trade with images of sexual abuse of children, based on the overall crime-prevention goal of stopping child sexual abuse. With the intention of preventing this trade from being conducted through the financial systems, a unique co-operation has been developed between public authorities, the private sector and the non-profit sector. The fact that the Financial Coalition’s members impede opportunities to use financial systems for this kind of crime, helps to complicate and limit its spread.
Global Child Forum
Since 2013, Handelsbanken has taken part in Global Child Forum, a non-profit foundation which functions as an independent forum to exchange best practices and provoke discussions about children’s rights. The forum brings together leaders from the business community, civil society, academia and government in order to spur action for social change around children’s rights.
Sustainable value creation
Since 2009, Handelsbanken Asset Management, together with other major Swedish investors, has taken part in the Sustainable Value Creation project. The aim of the project is to highlight the importance of Swedish listed companies working with sustainability topics in a structured manner. To encourage, support and follow up on the companies’ sustainability efforts, Sustainable Value Creation conducts surveys and organises seminars and round-table discussions. In its capacity as one of the 100 largest listed Swedish companies, Handelsbanken has itself responded to the surveys on its sustainability activities.
Economic research and education
Since the early 1960s, Handelsbanken has on a number of occasions awarded grants for economic research, mainly through allocations to two independent research foundations: Tore Browaldhs stiftelse and Jan Wallanders och Tom Hedelius stiftelse.
Together, these foundations are some of the most important sources of funding for economic research in Sweden. In 2016, 197 grants (169) were awarded for a total of SEK 188 million (180). At the end of 2016, the foundations’ combined capital totalled some SEK 6,901 million (6,051).
Handelsbanken has also funded a professorial chair in accounting at the Stockholm School of Economics and contributed to the Institute for Financial Research (SIFR) and Swedish House of Finance (SHoF).
Handelsbanken also supports a research project at the Stockholm School of Economics where studies and analyses are performed on the most important factors in creating customer satisfaction and also in monitoring the link between loyalty and profitability.
Personal finances for young people
Handelsbanken supports initiatives that improve young people’s knowledge of personal finance by supporting information campaigns and contributing know-how. Ung Privatekonomi (“Young Personal Finances”) is a schools information project that teaches Swedish upper secondary school students and teachers about personal finances and savings.
Collaboration with universities and colleges
Handelsbanken has a number of collaborations with schools, universities and colleges that are an important part of its long-term employer branding work. For example, we participate in training courses, contribute our competency and experience, and offer opportunities for internships that give students experience and contact with workplaces. Through these, Handelsbanken establishes contact with target groups that are important in terms of recruitment. This is based on co-operation with and commitment from HR departments, as well as employees and managers from branches and internal units.
Handelsbanken's student programme
Handelsbanken in Sweden offers students from upper secondary school who plan to study at university the opportunity to participate in the Bank’s Student Programme alongside their studies. The programme comprises working at the Bank during their studies, their own action plan and relevant studies for development at Handelsbanken. The purpose is to attract, recruit and develop young employees as part of the Bank’s future management succession, and to promote gender equality and diversity.
Transparency International Sweden
In 2017, Handelsbanken became a member of Transparency International Sweden Corporate Supporters Forum. This is a Swedish business forum which offers companies a platform to pool experience and knowledge related to anti-corruption work. Participation in Transparency International Sweden Corporate Supporters Forum indicates that a company has a clear standpoint and commitment in its work against corruption.
Women in Finance Charter
As part of its efforts towards gender equality, Handelsbanken in the UK signed the Women in Finance Charter, an initiative from HM Treasury, which means the Bank is committed to work for more gender balance in the financial sector.