Westpac NZ rolls out sustainability training to all employees

Becomes first bank in New Zealand to introduce sustainability learning programme

Westpac NZ rolls out sustainability training to all employees

Westpac NZ is rolling out its sustainability learning programme to all employees following a successful pilot run last year.

Sarah Hearn, Westpac GM Product, Sustainability & Marketing, said the company's EY Sustainability Academy learning programme received "resoundingly positive" feedback from employees who participated in the scheme.

"Our people who have taken part in this learning programme have told us that it helped them to link global issues to their own work and personal lives, and to in turn share those insights with customers," Hearns said in a statement.

According to Westpac, the training programme also aims to help employees become more knowledgeable about sustainability so they can better support customers. It consists of six online modules, including topics on:

  • Climate Change and Sustainability Fundamentals
  • Sustainable Business
  • Sustainable Finance
  • Climate Change and Decarbonised Economies
  • Circular Systems
  • Food Systems of the Future

In expanding the programme, Westpac NZ becomes the first bank in New Zealand to make sustainability available to all employees.

Commitment to sustainability

Hearn said their new learning programme is a natural expansion of the work that bank is doing in terms of sustainability.

"Sustainability is no longer a side-of-desk interest. Being aware of the impacts of climate change and how our lives and economies are changing as a result is important for everyone, no matter what your role or what industry you work in," she said.

Other measures from the bank include doubling their Volunteer Leave benefit to give employees two days a year that they can use to support causes in their communities.

"Many of our teams use days to support our annual Chopper Appeal, as well as pitch in to help community groups improve waterways through our partnership with NZ Landcare Trust," Hearns said.

These measures come as organisations across New Zealand face growing pressure from the workforce to be more sustainable.

A survey from Frog Recruitment last year revealed that 54% of employees aren't satisfied with their employer's sustainability practices, with 19% saying their employers could do more.

Growing pressure from customers on ESG

And the pressure isn't only coming from the workforce, as Hearns noted that customers are turning to them for help as environmental and social issues affect them.

"Consumers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint through purchasing decisions or lifestyle choices and businesses are keen to adjust their offering to lower their impact on the environment and meet consumer demand," she said.

According to Hearns, they have been helping customers meet their sustainability goals through products such as Sustainable Farm Loan, Sustainable Business Loan and Greater Choices home loan.

"At the same time, many investors are aligning their portfolios to support Aotearoa's transition to a net-zero emissions economy," she added.

"Climate risk is increasingly an economic risk for banks and the broader financial industry, as well as many other sectors."

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