Erste Group Bank AG was founded in 1819 as the first Austrian savings bank. It has 44,773 employees, 15.7 million clients in 2,044 branches in seven countries. Erste Group is a financial services provider in Central and Eastern Europe. The bank’s core activities also include advisory services and support for its corporate customers with regard to financing, investment, hedging activities and access to international capital markets. Public sector funding includes providing finance for infrastructure projects and acquiring sovereign bonds issued in the region. Erste Group also operates in the interbank market.
Erste Group Bank publicly commits to gender equality and women’s empowerment. It has a gender-balanced board of directors where seven out of 15 members are women and discloses a target to increase the proportion of women in management positions to 40% by 2025. The financial institution discloses a list of trade associations of which it is a member including sustainability- and non-sustainability-related organisations.
As a member of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, Erste Group Bank has set a target of net-zero financed emissions by 2050. As a member of Climate Action 100+, the financial institution discloses that it collectively engages with its investees on the topic of climate change. Furthermore, the financial institution discloses the aggregate amount and share of finance it devotes to climate solutions and specifies what these solutions are.
Erste Group Bank has a publicly available policy statement committing it to respect human rights. Furthermore, it discloses the proportion of its total direct operations workforce for each employee category by gender and age group as well as the proportion of its total direct operations workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements. The financial institution also discloses a global tax strategy. In addition, the financial institution discloses the amount of finance it directs towards clients at risk of poverty or social exclusion as well as the amount of finance provided to small entrepreneurs.
In terms of its approach to senior leadership accountability, Erste Group Bank has an opportunity to assign responsibility for sustainability to the group’s highest governing body and link the remuneration of its executive and management teams to sustainability performance criteria. Furthermore, the financial institution could disclose the ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men in its total direct operations workforce for each employee category and actions taken to address any pay gaps. The financial institution also has an opportunity to describe its engagement approach on sustainability themes and impact topics with clients and investees, across its financing activities.
Erste Group Bank could disclose interim absolute emissions reduction targets at the group level. It has an opportunity to disclose the key sectors and companies it has identified as priorities to engage with on climate change, specifically on the alignment with the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, it could align its financing for renewable energy projects with internationally recognised frameworks and set time-bound targets explicitly for its climate solutions. No evidence was found regarding the financial institution’s approach to fossil fuels that spans across the fossil fuel value chain, such as the amount or share of finance it directs towards fuels, or its stance on financing companies with new fossil fuel projects. Regarding nature and biodiversity, the financial institution could make a commitment to minimising its negative impacts or financing regenerative solutions.
Erste Group Bank has an opportunity to describe a comprehensive process for identifying its human rights risks and impacts across all its activities, especially its financing activities. It has an opportunity to establish a grievance mechanism accessible to all workers, external individuals and communities to raise human rights complaints or concerns. Furthermore, the financial institution could disclose the amount of finance directed towards low-income developing countries.
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Net income: EUR 2.4 billion; Total assets: EUR 307 billion