FirstRand Group is a financial services provider in South Africa that was established as a Group in 1998. It is one of the financial services providers licensed by the Reserve Bank of South Africa, the national banking regulator. Headquartered in Gauteng, South Africa, it also operates in some markets in sub-Saharan Africa, the UK, and India. It is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX).
In terms of senior leadership accountability, the responsibility for sustainability issues within FirstRand lies with the board. In terms of its approach towards impact management, it acknowledges that its financing activities have both positive and negative impacts. Moreover, FirstRand publicly commits to gender equality and women’s empowerment by being a signatory to the WEP and discloses a target to achieve an equal number of women in senior roles by 2025.
FirstRand has set a target of net-zero financed emissions by 2050 and discloses the key sectors it has identified as priorities to engage with on climate change, as well as the rationale for choosing these priorities. Furthermore, it discloses that 1.2% of its loans are directed towards renewable energy projects.
FirstRand has a publicly available policy statement committing it to respect human rights. It also discloses the proportion of its total direct operations workforce for each employee category by gender, race or ethnicity and disability. FirstRand discloses the amount of finance it directs towards black-owned companies in the agricultural sector, as well as the amount of finance (lending) it directs towards SMEs in South Africa by means of FNB. Moreover, FirstRand has a grievance mechanism accessible to all workers and external individuals and communities to raise human rights complaints or concerns. FirstRand takes steps to identify and address bribery and corruption and has a grievance mechanism for stakeholders to raise concerns and complaints regarding bribery and corruption.
In terms of its approach to senior leadership accountability, FirstRand has an opportunity to link the remuneration of its executive and management teams to sustainability performance criteria. In terms of gender equality, the bank has an opportunity to reach at least 40% female representation in senior leadership positions, as women are underrepresented on the board of directors where only three out of 13 board members are women. FirstRand could also disclose the ratio of basic salary and remuneration of women to men in its total direct operations workforce for each employee category and the actions taken to address any pay gaps. Furthermore, it has an opportunity to describe its engagement approach on sustainability themes and impact topics with clients and investees.
FirstRand could disclose interim emissions reduction targets at the group level, such as a 45% reduction in financed emissions by 2030. It could also disclose alignment with the Paris Agreement as one of its engagement priorities with companies to which it provides financial services and that it collectively engages with them on this topic. FirstRand could align its climate solutions, which are its sustainability loans directed towards renewable energy projects, with internationally recognised frameworks and disclose time-bound targets explicitly for these climate solutions. While FirstRand discloses that it considers the loss of biodiversity and resulting ecosystem impacts to be emerging risks, it could provide a commitment to minimise its negative impacts on nature and biodiversity.
FirstRand 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 could also provide a publicly available policy statement committing it to respecting the health and safety of workers. Moreover, while it discloses the ages of its board of directors, it has an opportunity to disclose this information for each employee category. FirstRand has an opportunity to disclose the amount of finance directed towards low-income developing countries.
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Net income: ZAR 4.6 billion; Total assets: ZAR 2 trillion