Ipswich Building Society has a wide-ranging social responsibility agenda which underpins the growth of its business. This includes educating schoolchildren about money, supporting staff volunteering and reducing its environmental impact.
- Increased financial literacy among primary schoolchildren through Money Days programme and a free app.
- Supported charities and community organisations through grassroots funding, providing a volunteer resource and using its branches for awareness, fundraising and information.
- Improved public health both internally, among staff, and externally, by influencing the business community.
- Strong financial performance and growth of the business, stimulating a healthier economy.
- Employee development, reduction in sickness absence and staff turnover.
- Brand awareness, engagement and ‘recommend’ value.
“ There is no doubt that strong results in 2013 have been underpinned by our commitment to responsible business. Through straightforward products, an individual underwriting approach, community activities, investment in staff well-being and being a visible business role model we have seen many benefits. Although we cannot provide a direct correlation I am confident that without our strong corporate social responsibility focus we would not have achieved such a successful year. ”
The Society’s corporate social responsibility strategy encompasses financial education, supporting local charities, sustainable energy use, staff volunteering and responsible lending.
In 2013, staff spent 372 hours reaching more than 700 Year 2 pupils through Money Days, a financial education programme which complements the National Curriculum. The Society also recently launched a bespoke app ‘My Puppy: Maths & Money’ as a free resource to teach primary school children the value of money. The app was downloaded 1,000 times in its first week without advertising.
Staff volunteering is another priority. In 2013, the Society donated 323 staff hours (a 25% increase from 2012) for community and charity volunteering. All staff are given four hours per month to volunteer.
To improve its environmental sustainability, the Society installed solar panels at its head office in 2012. It also uses technology such as Skype, conference calling and iPads to cut down on energy and paper use.
In its mortgage lending, the Society has designed products specifically for people with long term disabilities and works with three housing associations to make mortgages more accessible through Shared Ownership.
It actively promotes health and well-being among staff and has a sickness absence rate of 1.4%, compared to an industry average of 2.8%. In a recent survey, 87% of staff agreed or strongly agreed they are kept informed about the corporate social responsibility programme. Nine out of ten employees agreed they are proud to work for Ipswich Building Society.
Ultimately, the main business benefit is the effect on the bottom line, increasing capital base and steady growth.
“As a responsible business, I firmly believe we have a duty to go above and beyond regulatory and contractual requirements. My ongoing commitment to the Society will invest in and deliver a continual programme which:
ensures member priority with products and services that are simple, clear and fair,
offers financial and help-in-kind benefits to local community,
supports on-going employee development and wellbeing,
improves sustainability and environmental impacts,
leads the financial sector by example of responsible business.
“As a result of this focus, and amidst general distrust of the financial sector, the Society is thriving.”
Paul Winter, Chief Executive, Ipswich Building Society