Sustainability Achievements 2013
In 2013 we continued trying to reduce our environmental impact and made progress in integrating environmental sustainability into our core business by engaging all markets in environmental management system audits towards the ISO 14001 certification.
We have Environmental Management Groups in each market to drive good environmental practices such as introducing tablets to senior managers in the UK, Poland and Hungary, thereby cutting down on our paper consumption; to implementing a driving league table in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for all employees with a company car, with monthly prizes for the best performing driver.
However, as many agents use their cars to visits customers, deciding to include Hungarian agents into our Carbon Calculations in 2013 has had the largest impact on car travel emission, which increased by 20.8% from 2012. This increase should be seen in the context of the 7% increase in customer numbers in 2013.
Nevertheless, we are not pleased to see our increase in carbon emissions for car travel and to address this issue we have installed GPS vehicle tracking for company cars in Hungary which has resulted in a 15% reduction in business miles.
Subject to further trials, we will consider rolling out this type of technology across the Group.
The sustainability of our business is also linked to the communities in which our customers and agents live and work. Therefore, our community activities focus on providing genuine, local support for things that matter to our customers. We select partners who share our values and with whom we can provide long-term benefits for our communities. Most importantly, all our markets, including our head office in Leeds, have high levels of participation in volunteering activities and we are pleased to report that in 2013, our volunteering hours have increased by 19% from 2012 to 21,500 hours. Our employees have run marathons, grown beards, worn pink or purple and donated time, skills and funds -£0.8 million in 2013- to various charities, schools and community centres in the towns and cities were we operate.
We are particularly proud of the many Awards we won in 2013,whether it is the award for Top Employer in Poland for the excellent working conditions and development opportunities that we provide for our employees; to the Golden Purse Award in the Czech Republic recognising us as one of the best providers of consumer credit in the country; to the Mexican National Institute of Women certifying Provident Mexico for the 4th year running for its Model for Gender Equality (MEG) which implements best diversity practices and promotes equality between men and women in the workplace.
We were delighted when Provident Hungary won the Gallup Great Workplace Award in 2013, a global award recognizing companies creating an engaged workplace culture.
Our values and sustainability principles reflect the UN Global Compact principles and are derived from The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, The International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and The United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
Most importantly, in 2013, we piloted a Code of Ethics e-learning and testing programme to strengthen our ethical standards so all employees and agents have a clear understanding of how we should behave as an organisation and as individuals. This e-training programme based on real ethical dilemmas gathered from our markets, will be rolled out across all employees in all markets by 2015.
In 2013, we also continued to establish ourselves as thought leaders in responsible lending and financial literacy and continued following rigorous responsible supply chain management checklists and processes.
We also continued our thought leadership research with YouGov, a leading international online market research agency named in the respected Honomichl Top 25 global research firms list, by commissioning the “IPF Financial Wellbeing and Inclusion Report” an international survey that takes place every 12 months amongst our customers in six overseas markets.
The report is designed to engage with our customer base, understand their views on a range of important economic and financial issues, and report key findings amongst key decision makers. The 2013 YouGov report shows our customers to be typically from socioeconomic groups poorly served and often excluded from mainstream financial services, with lower levels of social influence, disposable income and political power, who use loans for a variety of purposes, from funding a small business, to paying for holidays and household goods, or to cover unforeseen emergencies.
In conclusion, we will continue to place an emphasis on sustainable and responsible business in 2014, rolling-out our ethical framework throughout the business, focussing on leveraging the reputational advantages of our community investment program and making sure we are a great place to work, this is because we believe that sustainability is a constantly evolving journey that does not allow us to become complacent.
Gerard Ryan, CEO