Sara’s sustainability journey

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18 January 2018

From charity to business, this is the story of how one employee’s personal sustainability journey mirrors ING’s.

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Sara Lamont of Wholesale Banking Transaction Services talks about her personal sustainability journey, from tree-hugging to helping our customers. (02:19)

Sara Lamont used to be sure that sustainability was about tree-hugging and wearing plastic shoes.

“Like, I did my recycling and I gave money to charity, and I thought I was being sustainable,” says Sara, responsible for contracts and agreements in Wholesale Banking’s Transaction Services.

Then she was asked by her manager to help drive a sustainability initiative, and everything started to change.

“Somebody told me about the three Ps of sustainability, so people, planet and profit, and then all the sudden it clicked into place,” she says. She had two important ‘a-ha moments’: personal (“it’s actually about every aspect of your life”) and professional (“I realised how important it is to our customers”).

“It’s about understanding, for example, that if climate goes up by two degrees, that the energy prices can go up,” she says in this video.

“How can our customers cope with those changes? Realising how important it was to our customers really made me realise how important it was to us as a bank and financial institution.”

A journey

Sara’s journey actually mirrors ING’s.

For ING too, sustainability used to be about philanthropy and community service. But as a bank, our biggest impact is in our financing. Through the years sustainability has gradually become part of the business, which you can read about here.

Now, we’re ramping up our efforts even more with a sharpened ‘direction’ that says all of our sustainability initiatives will help contribute to a low-carbon or self-reliant society.

Why those areas?

“Climate change is a clear and present danger, and we have a duty to see where our financing can help combat it,” says ING global Sustainability Head Leon Wijnands.

“And a self-reliant society is basically one where people are equipped to make good financial choices despite the difficult situation they may be in.”

Climate change is a clear and present danger, and we have a duty to see where our financing can help combat it.

- Leon Wijnands, ING global Sustainability head

This sharpened direction comes with ambitious initiatives and targets. Examples include becoming the industry leader in sustainable finance, creating products to specifically help our SME/Mid-Corp clients future-proof their businesses, helping the Think Forward Initiative financially empower 100 million people, and figuring out how to align our business with the two-degree scenario. To make sure we’re effective, countries will be required to have concrete sustainability targets – a first for many.

In Sara’s case, she wound up finding 32 colleagues to join the Transaction Services initiative. They came up with eight different sustainability topics (such as eliminating paper statements throughout all of Wholesale Banking) and have been given the mandate to pursue them.

Leon: “So much good work is being done already and there are many employees that still have a journey to make, like Sara did. Everyone can make a difference. I hope her story inspires those colleagues as much as it inspired me.”

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