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Banking on Sustainability

Shargiil Bashir, chief sustainability officer at FAB
Shargiil Bashir, chief sustainability officer at FAB

FAB’s ESG agenda leads regional transformations

Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 9:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 9:45 AM

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) concerns have directed strategic decision-making across the banking sector. With more countries committing to reduced emissions, banks have been undergoing pressure to incorporate green efforts into the management process and facilitate investor and client interests toward sustainable projects.

Since 2017, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) has led the region’s move towards sustainability and envi ronmental consciousness, by solidify-ing its position as a pace setter in green finance in the region.

Translating sustainability into action

While banks, as a sector or industry, don’t produce massive amounts of car-bon, FAB has committed itself to reduc-ing organizational emissions and has seen an estimated 45 per cent drop over the last three years.

“You have to walk the talk and make the change yourself,” says Shargiil Bashir, chief sustainability officer at FAB. “Smart building systems, reduced energy processes, smart lighting, better use of water, increased digitalisation, and going paperless have significantly lowered our carbon footprint,” he adds.

The bank also actively works to bring broader ESG awareness within the or-ganization. Most recently, FAB rolled out an awareness campaign to raise under-standing and to ensure employees are aligned with its corporate commitments. Launched in December, over 20 per cent of the bank’s staff has already completed the programme - a strong indication that the organisation’s corporate culture is em-bracing ESG mandates on multiple levels.

Green-action portfolios and investments

More importantly, as a key participator and facilitator of the financial ecosystem, FAB plays a critical role in influencing transitions to ESG-related products.

“Investors and customers are be-coming more climate-conscious,” says Shargiil. “Where options are equal, they actively opt for green products over con-ventional products. As a financial insti-tution, we realise the significance of not only directing this move toward sustain-ability but also the importance of provid-ing clients with socially and environmen-tally driven options,” he adds.

As the first bank in the MENA region to issue a green bond in 2017, FAB has long been helping its clients transition to a climate-neutral economy through strategic advisory services and inno-vative financing. The organisation has financed over $35 billion worth of sus-tainability projects to date. In October 2021, FAB also became the first bank in the region to join the UN’s Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). The move places FAB as a leading advocate for sus-tainable finance and positions the bank as a key supporter of the UAE’s endeav-ors for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. As a part of the initiative, FAB will provide emissions data for itself and out-line targets for how it will work within the organisation and with its customers to reduce future emissions.

Diversity and inclusion efforts

“Diversity and inclusion are very impor-tant for FAB, and they will only become more integral to organisational structures going forward,” says Bashir. “Currently, 40 per cent of our staff is female, but we are moving to the next level by incorporating wider gender diversity across the C-suite.”

Hana Al Rostamani, the group’s CEO, is the first female CEO of a UAE-listed bank and a role model for FAB’s future direction. Within the organisation, wom-en are encouraged to join the relevant internal and external programmes that can groom them into senior positions and leadership roles.

“We are committed to building on our employee-driven social and emo-tional learnings from the pandemic and incorporating ESG into the very fabric of FAB’s corporate culture is one of our key strategies,” says Bashir. “We’re setting the foundation for generations to come.” |

More information: www.bankfab.com

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