Actively listening to our various stakeholders, engaging in an open dialogue with them and responding to their views and concerns are very important for us. This input helps us balance competing expectations, address issues in an informed way and, crucially, helps us to improve our business.
Retail clients, business clients, employees, investors, NGOs, suppliers, supervisors and regulators are among our most important stakeholders. They are prioritised by those that are most likely to be impacted by our business and operations, and those with the most influence on ING achieving our strategic goals.
Rather than having one-off consultations around specific topics, we prefer to take an integrated approach and have an ongoing dialogue about our role in society, our products and services, our business performance and other issues. This is done at both business-unit level and at Group level.
Examples include client roundtables, about the circular economy for example; regular meetings with NGOs and other civil society organisations on topics ranging from climate change to animal welfare; targeted stakeholder engagement regarding specific policies in our Environmental and Social Risk framework; and roadshows with investors on sustainability as part of ING’s strategy.
An ongoing dialogue fosters mutual learning about the complexity of issues and what’s at stake for other stakeholders, as well as helps to identify solutions. We aim to meet the competing expectations and interests of investors, clients, employees and society in a balanced and fair way. This is evidenced by our open dialogue approach and transparent reporting on dilemmas.
Also, we are increasingly moving towards stakeholder collaboration: coming up with new ways of driving sustainable progress through a close collaboration with diverse stakeholder groups. For example, in 2016 we joined other Dutch banks, labour unions, NGOs and the Dutch government in the Dutch Banking Sector Agreement. This covenant aims to ensure that global corporate and project finance done by Netherlands-based banks protects and improves human rights in areas like labour practices, the freedom to form labour unions, child labour and land rights.