The our role in championing these causes

The business case for
sustainability has been long-established and at CIMB Group, through our
foundation, we have demonstrated our commitment to ‘giving back to the society’
for decades. We have had responsible business practices, including sound
governance, codes of conduct, employee’ and supplier’ welfare policies, and
stakeholder engagement principles. But the year 2017 has been a defining year
for us, to pave our sustainability journey with a long-term approach to
creating shared value for our diverse stakeholders across all our operating
markets in ASEAN and beyond.

As a world leader in Islamic
finance, which is akin to value-based and socially-responsible investing, we
understand the importance of managing our direct and indirect, positive and
negative impacts on the society, the economy as well as the environment. In
demonstrating such responsibility, we have been able to earn the trust of our
many stakeholders as a credible and responsible business, with their interests
at the heart of everything that we do as a bank. Moving forward, our aspiration
is to adopt sustainable banking principles and in the process, ensure greater
access to finance, which in turn would mean equitable opportunities for growth;
reduced inequalities; and prosperous communities. In other words, we will
continue to help our internal and external stakeholders – customers,
industries, governments, partners and employees – to fulfill their aspirations,
secure their future financial needs, increase trade activities, gain access to
capital for growth etc.

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In 2017, we
institutionalised the CIMB Sustainability Leadership Framework, which will
motivate us to identify and forge new partnerships for embracing and
implementing principles of sustainable development. Our focus will be to
achieve local impact and contribute to global goals. For instance, across all
our operating markets, we will promote specific goals such as good health &
well-being; quality education; gender equality; reduced inequalities; decent
work and economic growth; affordable and clean energy; and climate action. We
believe that our role in championing these causes will also be critical in
building a responsible corporate culture, and creating visible impact.

Another critical social and
economic issue that we will continue to champion from 2018 is related to the
unbanked population; the SME ecosystem; the marginalised and disadvantaged
business communities in our core markets. For instance, a McKinsey study
suggests that the unbanked population alone in ASEAN could increase the
economic contribution of the region from $17 billion to $52 billion by 2030.
Similarly, in Malaysia, the government’s target is to reduce the unbanked
population from the current 8% to 5% by 2020.
We see more of our role in helping various ASEAN countries meet their financial
inclusion targets, as well as to serve the critical mass of SMEs, micro
entrepreneurs, disadvantaged and marginal businesses amongst others, which are
all part of the growth machinery, especially in developing markets. The
critical mass of these unbanked or underbanked communities will also help spur
the financial sector, improving the overall dynamics of the economy.

Similarly, at work place, we
have been promoting diversity for greater progress i.e., we believe in the idea
of nurturing people with diverse skills’ social, ethnic and educational
backgrounds; interests and values – which not only add a new dimension to
productivity, but also to performance. We strongly believe in the capability of
people as resources, who can be in the forefront of all organisational
development. Hence, the welfare and well-being of our people, including our
staff, suppliers, and contractors remained a top-priority in 2017. When
introducing new policies and programmes during the year under review, our main
objective has been to continuously upskill our people, tap their innate
potential and help them achieve their aspirations, while contributing to
organisational growth.

Last year, we have also
taken our environmental stewardship to the next level by raising awareness and
educating our people on various green issues and green behaviour. Climate
change is real and every little effort will positively contribute  to keeping our planet safe and green for the
future generations. As a bank, we have been doing our part by looking for
opportunities for sustainable financing and underwriting issuances in the
renewable energy space. We are also revisiting our risk management processes to
make them effective in identifying as well as managing climate-related
financial risks. Besides, through our Foundation, we have encouraged
participation of our staff in various environmental conservation projects. We
also continue to reduce the direct environmental impact of our operations, in
terms of energy and waste management across all our offices.

I am reminded that last year, we commemorated the 10th
anniversary of CIMB Foundation, taking pride in our long-held commitment to
empower and change lives of our people. Over the years, we have implemented
programmes that have had positive, long-term impact on communities; and
initiatives that helped create equitable opportunities. On behalf of CIMB
Group, with a reinforced commitment to people, planet and profits, I take this
opportunity to thank the Board of Trustees of CIMB Foundation, the CIMB
Management Team and all our people for being part of our sustainability journey
in the past years and in 2017. I am confident that with your continuing support
and partnership, we will be able to achieve more in the long term.