Westpac to upskill staff on environmental and social issues

Banks have a 'key role' in supporting businesses achieve net zero emissions

Westpac to upskill staff on environmental and social issues

Westpac has announced that they’ll be launching a programme to upskill more than 800 employees over environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Employees belonging in the areas of business banking, institutional banking, and risk are expected to participate in the upskilling programme, according to the company's announcement. The goal of the training is to help its employees better support customers in the country's transition to a lower emissions economy.

"Investing in education, so our bankers have a deeper knowledge of risks and opportunities in different industries, ensures our customers get the best support as the economy transitions to net zero," said Westpac chief executive officer Anthony Miller in a statement.

The upskilling programme comes as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the previous year announced the country's Long-Term Emissions Reduction Plan to deliver net zero by 2050. Net zero emissions, according to the Climate Council, refers to the "overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere."

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Miller said in his statement that getting Australia to net zero by 2050 will create a "significant boost to Australia's economy, including job creation."

"However, for many businesses, particularly small to medium enterprises (SMEs) and those at the start of their transition journeys, they're not quite sure where to start," he added.

According to Miller, their Australian corporate and SME customers have reached out to them saying they value the help the institution can bring in, particularly SMEs and those starting their journeys.

Westpac will be partnering with Monash University for the training programme, which will commence in February. It is designed in partnership with Monash Sustainable Development Institute and ClimateWorks Australia. 

"This programme will translate the knowledge and insights our Institute has built up on key social and environmental issues into practical take-aways for bankers," said Associate Professor Annette Bos, Director Education of Monash Sustainable Development Institute.

Anna Skarbek, chief executive of ClimateWorks Australia, stressed that it is the time for businesses to come up with their own net zero emissions plans and banks have a key role in supporting them.

"Banks have a key role in driving Australia’s transition to net zero, supporting their customers on their individual journeys and solutions for a cleaner economy," said Skarbek.

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