Westpac is Australia’s first and oldest banking institution headquartered in Sydney, New South Wales. Established in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales, it acquired the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982 before being renamed to Westpac Banking Corporation. It has 14 million customers worldwide and employs around 40,000 staff.
In terms of senior leadership accountability, the responsibility for Westpac’s sustainability risk management framework lies with the board of directors. Westpac has been a signatory of the Women’s Empowerment Principles since 2010; thus displaying its commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Moreover, it has a gender-balanced leadership representation as four out of 10 board members are women. Also, it has gender-balanced representation among its senior leadership roles where 50% are women. Furthermore, Westpac acknowledges that its financing activities have both positive and negative impacts, and has identified and prioritised its impacts through a materiality assessment process which included feedback from external stakeholders.
As a member of Climate Action 100+, Westpac discloses that it collectively engages with its clients on the topic of climate change. Moreover, the bank reports the monetary amount of financing activities devoted to climate change solutions while specifying what these solutions are. Furthermore, Westpac aims to finance AUD 3.5 billion in climate solutions by 2023 and discloses progress against the target.
Westpac has publicly available policy statements in which it commits to respecting human rights, the ILO core labour rights, and protecting personal data. Moreover, the bank discloses the results of its human rights risk assessments while providing a case study describing how it has acted on a salient human rights risk issue. Further, Westpac discloses categories of stakeholders whose human rights have been or may be affected by its activities. On diversity, Westpac provides evidence of the proportion of its total direct operations workforce for each employee category by age group and gender. To conclude, the bank has a grievance mechanism accessible to all workers, external individuals and communities to raise human rights complaints or concerns.
Westpac could more clearly link the remuneration of its executive team to sustainability performance criteria. It also has an opportunity to disclose how it addresses any gender pay gaps. The bank could describe its engagement approach on sustainability themes and impact topics with clients and investees.
While Westpac sets emission intensity targets for its electricity generation portfolio, there is no evidence that it discloses a target to reach net-zero financed emissions by 2050. The bank 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. Moreover, it could align its green bonds and climate solutions with internationally recognised frameworks. Regarding nature and biodiversity, no evidence was found that Westpac is committed to minimising its negative impacts or financing regenerative solutions.
Westpac has an opportunity to describe a comprehensive process for identifying its human rights risks and impacts across all its activities, especially its financing activities. To provide transparency on financial inclusivity, the bank has an opportunity to disclose the amount of finance directed towards, for example, women-owned businesses, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or low-income developing countries.
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Revenue: AUD 26.64 billion; Total assets: AUD 935.88 billion