Standard Bank South Africa’s (SBSA) transformation report provides an overview of the activities that we perform to support economic inclusion and transformation in South Africa. The report is structured according to the elements of the Financial Sector Code (FSC) and covers the initiatives, projects, and strategies we’ve put in place to drive transformation within the bank and the economy.
The transformation of South Africa’s economy is a multi-faceted and long-term undertaking. We are committed to playing our role in supporting this transformation. We recognise that broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) is a moral, legal and commercial imperative, crucial to securing a more sustainable growth path for South Africa, and central to our legitimacy and social licence to operate in South Africa.
SBSA has made a specific commitment to socioeconomic transformation, as expressed in the Standard Bank Group’s purpose: ‘Africa is our home, we drive her growth’. As a responsible corporate citizen, we are committed to facilitating and supporting inclusive job-creating economic growth and wealth creation in the economies within which we operate. Further, enabling transformation aligns with our group social, economic and environmental (SEE) value driver, which seeks to generate SEE value for our stakeholders and society through our core business activities. We therefore continuously work to identify opportunities to accelerate transformation, leveraging our skills, expertise and access to various stakeholders in the economy to enable us to achieve transformation internally and be a catalyst for societal transformation.
We have identified seven areas in which we believe the Standard Bank Group can make a significant impact on the societies in which we operate (our SEE impacts). Positive impacts in each of these areas support the social and economic transformation of South Africa and the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
“Profit with purpose is set to become the new norm. ” 1 Simply put, this means that business cannot thrive in a world where people do not. In countries characterised by high inequality, like South Africa, the role of corporates as socioeconomic agents of change is amplified. This is the reason why SBSA’s purpose is to “drive Africa’s growth.”
We reflect our commitment to improving societies in our SEE value driver, which drives our strategy and is one of the measures against which we assess our performance.
In South Africa, our efforts to promote transformation, both within the bank and in society more broadly, are a significant part of our SEE contribution. Internally, these efforts include programmes to recruit and develop young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and providing fair opportunities for our employees to develop their full potential. Externally, we engage in activities to transform the communities in which we operate by creating jobs, growing enterprises, providing funding for projects, and through corporate social investment. Although this report is structured according to the Financial Sector Code scorecard, our approach to transformation is more holistic than the scorecard (which we consider as an outcome). Our primary driver is impact, rather than compliance.
We take our duty to actively engage in the process of developing and amending legislation pertaining to transformation seriously. We are in conversation with the Department of Employment and Labour in respect of the proposed financial sector employment equity targets, which are provided for in the impending amendments to the Employment Equity Act. We contributed to the development of the Conduct of Financial Institutions Bill, which includes specific requirements in relation to transformation, and we have started considering how we can align with its spirit and intent in advance of the promulgation of the legislation. We have also had bilateral engagements with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority on this and other matters relating to transformation in SBSA.
An aspect of our transformation activities which we cannot quantify, is the engagement that we often have with external stakeholders. A recent example is an engagement we had with a black owned law firm, who made us aware of the realities that are faced by black professionals in the legal fraternity. They challenged us to play a role in remedying the status quo. While we may not always solve such issues to the satisfaction of all interested parties, these engagements provide us with an opportunity to consider transformation through an external lens – one that we sometimes do not consider internally and is often invaluable in enhancing our approach.
We welcome feedback and inputs on how we can continue to drive South Africa’s growth through transformation.