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Sustainability

As of May 2017, the University of Tartu and Swedbank are participating in the cooperation project “Customer Insights: Development of Advanced Private Segment Analytics at Swedbank”, with a budget of 335,000 euros, which is partly funded by the “Smart Specialisation” project by the European Union Structural Funds. The objective of the project is to implement research inventions in business and enrich company data by means of machine learning methods. The project will see the drafting of new and more efficient algorithms for providing more personalised recommendations to clients.

Our approach

We are part of society – the bank is a community of customers, employees and cooperation partners. And as a bank we have an important role in the development of economy. We make up a part of the economic bloodstream by helping to create new opportunities. These opportunities include purchasing a home, expanding a company or buying your first shares. We understand that no company can function separately from its environment as we all influence one another.

We are aware of our impact as the largest bank in Estonia and therefore aim to support the growth and development of local people, companies and society. Following principles of sustainability is integral to all our activities as they form the foundation for our business decisions and processes, societal contribution and daily work at the bank.

You can learn more about Swedbank Group’s strategy and principles of sustainability here.

Swedbank focuses on the following three aspects of sustainability:

Economic aspect

balanced and continuous economic growth and well-being of the society

Social aspect

open, caring and inclusive society, where human rights are respected

Environmental aspect

responsible use of resources and mitigation of climate change

Sustainability principles are integrated in all our business decisions and processes. In order to increase our positive impact, it is vital to help our customers and partners make more sustainable choices.

We have decided to focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals that allow us to have the greatest positive impact. These are goals that enable us to actively contribute to bringing about real change.

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and high quality education for all.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and end discrimination.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote higher productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

More information on Sustainable Development Goals can be found on this website: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs

Our aim is to ensure that our products and services support the following Sustainable Development Goals:

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote higher productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

In this light, we take social, environmental and economic impact into account when making business decisions. It is also important that our daily decisions do not contravene human rights and that the decisions support anti-corruption goals.

We are focused on developing digital services as this enables us to minimize our ecological footprint. The development of digital services helps to reduce paper costs and save time, as well as to create remote service solutions that can be used without having to visit bank branches.

Keeping sustainability goals in mind when making financing and investing decisions allows us to direct money into more sustainable enterprises, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment, society and economic growth.

What have we accomplished in this field already?

  • We offer favourable conditions for making environmentally-friendly choices: customers looking to lease environmentally-friendly cars can do so at discount conditions. Environmentally-friendly cars include hybrid, plug-in electric and small-engine cars with a CO2 emissions level below or equal to 95 g/km.
  • In order to encourage customers to implement renewable energy solutions, and to support the increasing interest in solar power, we offer unsecured loans of up to EUR 20,000 for the purchase of solar panels for a maximum loan period of 10 years.
  • Investing into sustainable funds: our pension funds help us direct investments into companies with the highest sustainability ratings. Pension funds have a long-term investment horizon, which is why we are convinced that taking sustainability criteria into account in the investment process will bring about higher returns and/or lower risks in the long term.
  • Sustainability principles are also integral to the lending process. A thorough sustainability analysis is conducted every time a corporate customer applies for a loan exceeding EUR 0.8m.
  • Renovating loans are used to improve the energy efficiency of buildings. Residential buildings make up about 33% of all energy use in Estonia, which is why it is extremely important to make our residential buildings more energy efficient.
  • Home Energy Efficiency Loan for renovating your private house.

Additionally, Swedbank Group has determined criteria for deciding what kind of companies are not financed. The criteria are based on our human rights policy, the bank’s position towards climate change, as well as our viewpoints on investing into the defence industry. Swedbank has also implemented extensive measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

We follow the highest standards of business ethics in all our operations. To do so, we monitor that all our business transactions comply with codes of ethics.

Swedbank employees refrain from any transactions and activities that do not comply with our approach or principles, or that could compromise trust in Swedbank in any other way. Swedbank Group has imposed internal anti-corruption rules and procedures, which are updated regularly.

We follow strict procedures in our work to regulate potential conflicts of interest. We have also set up a whistleblowing system that employees can use to report violations concerning conflicts of interest or ethics. It is important for us to promote a work environment where employees can report such violations or unethical behaviour without fear. Our employees submit a declaration of economic interest every year. We have created a special ethics committee to monitor the field of business ethics.

These activities allow us to contribute to this goal:

Goal 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

  • Moving towards climate neutrality. Swedbank Group achieved the goal of reducing its CO2 footprint by 50% by 2017. Our next goal is to reduce it by another 20 percent by 2022.
  • Green energy: we use electricity produced from renewable sources in Swedbank Estonia buildings. We are also working on reducing the use of electricity and water. For example, in 2019, we consumed 7% less energy for heating purposes and almost 4% less electricity than the year before.
  • Waste management: we are continuously reducing the amount of waste produced, we recycle waste and direct furniture and equipment that is still in good working order to be reused.
  • Sustainable transport: we encourage our employees to come to work on foot, by bike or scooter. We are actively cutting back on business flights and have set up a monthly flight-free week.

Our operational sustainability helps us contribute to these SDGs:

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

  • Physical and mental health. The mental and physical health of our employees is extremely important to us. We have created various health initiatives for our employees (e.g. Health Week, active lifestyle challenges). We encourage people to stay active and exercise by compensating exercise and competition expenses. We also contribute into preventing mental health problems. Additionally, we provide health days and enable support from physiotherapists and psychologists.
  • Flexibility and personal development. Swedbank enables flexibility with regard to work hours, location and methods, so that our employees could enjoy work-life balance. It is also important that our employees have self-development opportunities, which is why we offer various options to participate in professional development programmes and career guidance.
  • Equal opportunities. Swedbank fosters an open and inclusive work environment, in which we value diversity and have zero tolerance for discrimination. We offer men and women equal pay for the same jobs and aim to create gender balance on all management levels. We are also working on minimizing the career divide that people can experience when returning from parental leave.
  • Meaningful joint activities. We give all our employees two paid days off every year for volunteering. Since 2015, teams from Swedbank have participated in various volunteer activities across Estonia in the framework of our Summer of Good Deeds initiative.

These activities help us contribute to following goals:

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and end discrimination.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote higher productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

Swedbank has a lot of cooperation partners, which means that we also have a great responsibility and a superb opportunity to guide these partners based on our sustainability expectations. The goal is to cooperate on facilitating sustainability on all levels.

We strive to cooperate only with service providers who follow the highest standards of business ethics and sustainability. Swedbank’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which all our service providers have to sign, stipulates that the service provider has to treat all their employees responsibly, offer equal opportunities and comply with environmental protection requirements, while ensuring transparency and the prevention of corruption.

It helps us contribute to following goal:

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

Swedbank details the bank’s social responsibility activities in its annual reports. You can access the annual reports of Swedbank Estonia here.

Swedbank Group’s sustainability reports can be read here: https://swedbank.com/sustainability/reporting-monitoring.html

Swedbank’s mission statement includes the bank acting as a positive force in society. We work with various societal initiatives which contribute to positive impact in areas of our prioritized SDGs.

General education

Education is priceless. The ability to read, write, discuss ideas and calculate gives us something that no one can take away – our knowledge. Data from the Ministry of Education (2016) shows that 11% of people aged 18-24 have low education levels and are not in education. According to some institutions (EHIS), this number could reach 20%. That is too much. This is why we have been contributing to improving education in Estonia for a long time now. We continuously support the Youth to School (Noored Kooli) initiative and the Tartu University Science School, thereby helping to get students more interested in hard sciences.

  • Back to School. In 2006, Swedbank and the Good Deed Foundation (Heateo SA) founded the Youth to School programme so that every child in Estonia would be able to get a great education. Every year we pick up to 50 capable and active people from various spheres of life to join the programme and offer them a unique challenge. For two years, participants of the programme will teach in schools across Estonia, where they have a chance to directly impact the development of each of their students. The participants will simultaneously be attending a teaching and leadership course, which helps them become outstanding leaders both in classrooms as well as in the society. With the skills and knowledge acquired from this experience in schools, participants will be able to lead all kinds of undertakings successfully. We believe in the Youth to School mission and goals wholeheartedly.
    Learn more: www.nooredkooli.ee.
  • Cooperation with the Tartu University Science School Since 2019, we have been working with the Tartu University Science School on bringing the exciting world of hard sciences to has many students in Estonia as possible. We support the development and activities of various workshops so that youngsters living in smaller settlements in Estonia would also be able to take part in interesting science experiments. Swedbankers too help current young folk understand how knowledge acquired in hard science classes is implemented to complete daily work tasks in the private sector. This helps ensure that more and more young people choose to study hard sciences in university, thereby also alleviating the shortage of teachers and experts of these fields in Estonia.

Higher education and science

The success of a state and its society is founded on excellent higher education and investments into science. The contribution of companies is crucial as it helps shape the content of higher education to meet the needs of the society. This is why we cooperate with the largest universities in Estonia, both with regard to improving the quality of higher education and financing research.

  • Sharing private sector experiences in higher education. We understand the importance of making sure that knowledge and experience from the private sector also reaches higher education. This is how the material taught in universities can be adapted to meet the needs of the labour market, ensuring that students are better prepared for life after graduation. We contribute to the work of various school staff councils, provide feedback in the development process of curricula and participate by way of organising workshops and giving lectures.
  • Diverse cooperation projects. The cooperation of academics and the business world in an important prerequisite for economic success. This is why we work on numerous joint projects with students, scientists and lecturers. Our most extensive cooperation project in the science field so far has been Applied research in smart specialisation growth areas. We have an office at the Delta Centre of the Tartu University (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation) and a representation space at the TalTech Innovation and Business Centre Mektory.

These activities contribute to following goals:

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and high quality education for all.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

These days financial literacy is just as vital as writing, calculating, dressing oneself and having basic communication skills. Financial literacy is a combination of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, which ensure that one makes smart decisions regarding their financial matters. Financial literacy encompasses family budget planning, basic knowledge of investing and responsible behaviour with money.

Institute for Finances

However, various studies have shown that there is a discrepancy between the theoretic knowledge that Estonians possess and their actual behaviour. Although the majority of people have acquired key principles of daily money matters and planning, oftentimes, they do not follow those principles in their daily errands concerning finances. This is why we find it important to educate our clients and share knowledge, experience and skills concerning financial wisdom, both during school lessons and via the Institute for Finances.

The Institute for Finances was established in 2010 to provide independent information and practical advice. It aims to support people in making economic decisions, offer insight on managing finances and promote financial literacy in Estonia.

Savings journal

In order to further promote financial wisdom and share practical advice on money matters, we have created a Facebook group Savings journal (Kogumispäevik). The aim of the FB group is to provide a community of people who wish to learn more about handling their finances – how to save money, how to find additional income sources, how to get started with investing and improve the financial well-being of their family! You too can start saving and join the FB group HERE.

You can also check out our Savings journal podcast, where we meet up with various interesting guests to discuss financial wisdom topics and practical tips on how to improve your family’s financial situation.

Back to School

The objective of Back to School is to bring more real-life experience to schools and strengthen cooperation between schools and the rest of the society. We aim to get more active people involved in education, be it parents, alumni or someone else capable of enriching the lessons of current students and sharing knowledge that cannot be found in textbooks.

We have been a strategic partner and a true fan of Back to School initiative since 2012. Our employees have signed up and regularly visit students at schools to share their knowledge on money and digital matters, and give necessary career advice. We have currently reached 86% of schools in Estonia. You can share your experiences and knowhow of your profession or hobbies – be it financial analysis or winter swimming. Learn more on how to inspire Estonia’s future talents: www.tagasikooli.ee.

This helps us contribute to following goal:

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and high quality education for all.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

We believe that the secret of a successful country lies in educated and entrepreneurial-minded people. To do our part in promoting entrepreneurship, we support start-up entrepreneurs in making their first prototypes so that they can build businesses out of ideas. We also strive to get young people more interested in social entrepreneurship and help organise the best business festival in the Baltics – sTARTUp Day.

  • Prototron

    It is difficult to imagine a world without computers or lamps. But even those things were mere ideas once and required prototypes for changing the world. In order to continue giving life to excellent ideas, we joined forces with Tallinn University of Technology and Technopol in 2012 and created Estonia’s first prototyping fund Prototron. Prototron provides financial support to entrepreneurs for making their first functional product sample – the prototype. Prototron has already helped several innovative companies – Lingvist, coModule, Sprayprinter, Qminder and Lumebot among them. More than 3,200 ideas have been submitted to Prototron’s application rounds so far and 74 projects have received financing in the extent of over 900,000 euros. Prototron teams have raised over 18 million euros as follow-up investments and created more than 100 new jobs in Estonia. Pretty cool, huh? We think so.

    Draft up your idea and learn more: www.prototron.ee

  • sTARTUp Day

    We like passionate people who are willing to do what it takes to bring their ideas into reality. Founders of sTARTUp Day are living and breathing example of this – in 2016 they laid foundations for the biggest business festival in the Baltics. Located in Tartu – the city of good thoughts – the festival brings together over 4000 startupers, CEOs, investors, university students, specialists and enthusiasts from all over the world to innovate, pitch and discuss topics of business, start-up companies, innovation and future technologies. We are happy and proud to have been die-hard fans and the gold sponsors of sTARTUp Day from the very start. And to top it off – we are among the co-organisers of the festival as of 2019!

    You are welcome to join at: www.startupday.ee.

  • Changemakers Academy

    In 2019, we joined the organisers of Changemakers Academy to get the young people in Estonia fired up about social entrepreneurship. Every year, about 120 students from across Estonia take part in the programme to work together and create marketing plans to social enterprises. Participation in the programme provides youngsters an invaluable opportunity to practice team work, gain knowledge about entrepreneurship and bring their ideas to life – all this is elevated by getting to contribute to solving a social problem. The programme also helps to integrate students who don’t share a common first language.

    Join here: www.changemakers.ee.

It allows us to contribute to this goal:

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote higher productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

Health tracks

Remember the feeling you get after a brisk jog in the woods, the clarity and energy it brings? We do and we want more and more people in Estonia to have the opportunity to exercise for free whenever they feel like it. This is why we joined forces with MERKO and the national energy company Eesti Energia and launched the network of Estonian Health Tracks in 2005. Since then we have renovated and built more 117 natural trails, totalling over 1100 km in length. Many of these tracks have lighting so that it is possible to jog from sunset to sunrise – because health tracks, unlike sports clubs, are always open.

www.terviserajad.ee

Sport Grants for the Youth

In order to improve sports in Estonia, in addition to aiding the development of sports tracks, we have also decided to help support sports opportunities aimed at young people in Estonia and the creation of better training options for them. As of 2016, we have annually offered the chance to apply for funding to organise physical activity and sports programmes for the youth. All organisations who strive towards improving children’s and youngsters’ exercise habits and sport options are welcome to apply, as are their existing and new programmes or initiatives. The call for proposals is open every spring and financing decisions are made by a committee, which consists of members of the Swedbank Sports Club, by the end of May. Join up and get your blood pumping!

The Good Deed Foundation

The Good Deed Foundation helps high-impact social initiatives to become active organisations and social enterprises. The foundation supports spreading social innovation in Estonia and increasing knowledge about strategic philanthropy in the private sector. In cooperation with the Good Deed Foundation, we are the only bank in Estonia to offer philanthropy consultations to our private banking clients, helping them with any single donation, managing an NGO or starting a new foundation.

www.heategu.ee

Donation environment “I love to help”

In 2008, Swedbank and the Good Deed Foundation joined forces to launch a donating environment, which has grown into Estonia’s biggest platform for donations.

The aim of the donation environment is to promote charity culture in Estonia by bringing reliable initiatives and influential charity organisations together onto a single platform, where donators can learn more about and support the projects and initiatives.

All organisations included in the environment are strong and reliable – this ensures that your donation will reach those in need. Donating is simple – just pick a project that’s close to your heart and donate money or time.

Learn more: www.armastanaidata.ee.

Donating Our Time network

"Let’s donate time" is a charity network that brings together active, ambitious and innovative enterprises who understand the importance of contributing to their communities by way of volunteering. The potential of teams lies in diversity – collectives are made up of people with various skills, knowledge and activity levels; together these people can find solutions to problems, provide advice and support in situations where it is needed the most.

As of 2015, Swedbank employees have carried out good deed across Estonia every summer. Among other projects, Swedbankers have participated in clean-up events, opened charity cafés, worked with youngsters, pensioners and our four-legged friends. We do over a hundred good deeds every summer, involving more than 1,100 bank employees.

Learn more: www.annetameaega.ee.

Our societal initiatives help us contribute to following goals:

Goal 4: Quality Education

Ensure inclusive and high quality education for all.

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Achieve gender equality and end discrimination.

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Promote higher productivity, innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation.

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Produce and consume goods and resources responsibly.

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Goal 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies.

We conduct strategic cooperation with various powerful and reliable partners in order to bring about positive social, economic and environmental impact. We value long-term cooperation and prefer to support initiatives where we can have broad-based impact and involve a significant portion of society. It is also important for us that the initiatives are in compliance with Sustainable Development Goals and our values.

All cooperation proposals and requests for support are evaluated based on:

  • whether or not the initiative is in alignment with Swedbank’s values, the current and future needs of our customers and the society in Estonia;
  • whether or not the initiative contributes to areas that Swedbank has decided to support, i.e. education and financial literacy, promoting entrepreneurship and sustainable society;
  • the significance of the initiative for the general public, what kind of positive changes it can bring about in society and how it includes the people of Estonia;
  • how sustainable the initiative is and what kind of previous experiences the leaders of the initiative have;
  • the opportunities for involving Swedbank employees and customers in the initiative.

Swedbank does not support:

  • projects that do not align with the bank’s values;
  • political and religious associations;
  • initiatives that threaten the safety of people or the environment;
  • projects that are only beneficial for a single person or a very limited group.

Feel free to send your cooperation proposals to toetus@swedbank.ee.

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Kind regards,
Swedbank