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Committed to Longterm Sustainability

By July 07, 2023

IDFC FIRST Bank is a voluntary participant/supporter in multiple global initiatives such as UNGC and TCFD and the Bank continues to proactively adopt multiple disclosure practices as per global standards to drive higher transparency.

Committed to Longterm Sustainability
Shikha Hora Kamdar - Head, ESG & Consumer Lending, IDFC FIRST Bank.
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The financial services industry has a very important role to play in facilitating the necessary transition towards a more environmentally sustainable world, and in bridging socioeconomic divides through financial inclusion. The need of the hour is to build and empower institutions that can accelerate such positive changes at scale, sustained with good governance and an enabling policy ecosystem. 

In this context, IDFC FIRST Bank is working on multiple initiatives to drive this change. Across metrics of financial performance, customer delight, business growth, portfolio quality and others, the Bank continues to see well balanced progress, as validated by its results . Central to this has been our core ethos of being Digital, Ethical and to be a force for social-good. At IDFC FIRST Bank, we are inherently committed to longterm sustainability, and aligned to well-accepted norms of Environmental, Social and Governance. 

Serving a market as dynamic as India, we are powered by immense opportunities to cater to a significant and growing base of customers, with relevant products offered with transparency. For instance, some of our product and service lines such as EV financing, and MSME lending directly contribute to larger sustainability goals; our rural business helps drive the financial inclusion objective. Together, they help achieve positive environmental impact, foster financial inclusion and drive overall economic development.

Our offerings cater to a diverse customer base across different regions and socio-economic backgrounds. We place a non-negotiable emphasis on customer centricity, which is manifested through transparent communication and innovative offerings such as fee-free banking services and never expiring reward points on our credit card offering. Similarly, our “near and dear test” when launching new products reflects our commitment to treating our customers as we would like to be treated ourselves. 

On the social front, our efforts are further accentuated by our CSR program that drives measurable impact in our areas of intervention. For our employees apart from being an equal opportunity employer, we execute dedicated initiatives across learning and development, people engagement and holistic wellbeing. From an environmental perspective, we recycle our e-waste, eliminate paper in customer journeys, and increasingly opt for green-certified infrastructure.

Central to our approach is a strong governance mechanism, steered by a highly independent and engaged Board. From an ESG standpoint, our efforts are driven by dedicated Board and Management Committees and executed by a dedicated ESG team. We are integrating all our ESG initiatives under the FIRST ENSURE program and are actively encouraging employee participation in building a more sustainable Bank. We are a voluntary participant/supporter in multiple global initiatives such as UNGC and TCFD and we continue to proactively adopt multiple disclosure practices as per global standards to drive higher transparency. We are also in the process of developing our climate action roadmap. 

Our journey towards sustainability is an ongoing one. ESG demands continuous attention and a relentless pursuit of improvement. At IDFC FIRST Bank, our commitment to ESG is not only about responsible banking but also about securing the longterm success of our institution. To this effect, our actions and decisions will continue to reflect our dedication to ESG. Together, we strive to harness the power of ESG to drive positive change and create sustainable value for all our stakeholders.

(The author is Head-ESG & Consumer Lending, IDFC FIRST Bank.)

 

Financing To Create a Better World  

Facilitating transition towards a more environmentally sustainable world, IDFC FIRST Bank has influenced industries and consumers to play a meaningful role. The Bank considers the natural environment as a key stakeholder from which it draws resources, and to which it needs to contribute positively.

 

IDFC FIRST Bank has embarked on a transformative journey to formally integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles into its operations and activities. The bank’s longstanding dedication to social good and responsible practices has been the foundation of this initiative. From a strategic ESG perspective, the Bank is taking conscious steps to capture fresh opportunities, mitigate emerging risks and comply with new regulations to protect the interests of its stakeholders. On the other hand, through its dedicated sustainability projects, the Bank has been striving to play a meaningful role in contributing to society, protecting the environment, and thus building a better world.

While the Bank’s direct environmental footprint is at a fairly smaller scale, combined with its lending ecosystem, the opportunity to make a positive impact is significant. The Bank is committed to both minimising its own impact and to influence its customers and other stakeholders to act with responsibility.
 
Climate Action

The Bank is currently evaluating its physical and transition risk assessment and inventorising its GHG emissions across Scope 1, 2 and 3, to formulate its climate action plan. To be completed within FY 2024, this will pave way for the establishment of the Bank’s Net Zero ambitions. 

The Bank is a leading player with maximum tie-ups for EV financing, particularly in the registered two-wheeler space. 

The Bank is also raising customer awareness with regard to purchase of energy-efficient (such as 5-Star energy efficiency rated appliances) appliances, which can reduce electricity consumption and in turn, carbon emissions. 
 
The Bank has taken a structured approach for engaging its employees through its FIRST ENSURE program, the Bank’s official ESG identity. The core ethos of FIRST ENSURE is to enable sustainability and to do it responsibly. 
 
The ESG agenda of the Bank is directed by specific Board and Management committees steering its strategy and implementation. With the inception of a dedicated ESG program, the Bank is now being evaluated by renowned ESG rating agencies. It has received DJSI ESG Ratings (CSA- 2022 Assessment) Score 44, which is a major improvement from 19; CRISIL ESG ratings 2022 score 66; Refinitiv ESG ratings 2022 score 66 (B) that is an improvement from 50 (B).
 
ESG Reporting

The Bank believes in transparent communications with all its stakeholders through a dedicated microsite and updates them periodically apart from disclosures in the quarterly investor presentations. The Bank has also aligned its disclosures to the recently mandated Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (BRSR) norms framed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). With an intent to align to global standards in corporate and sustainability disclosures, the Bank has now voluntarily adopted the following international standards for annual reporting: International Integrated Reporting Framework by the IFRS Foundation; Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Framework by the IFRS Foundation; GRI Standards 2021.

Some of the recent notable awards and recognitions received by the Bank include: Sustainability Impact Award 2023 by UBS Forums at Sustainability Summit and Awards (May 2023); ESG Rising Star Award 2023 by UBS Forums at Sustainability Summit and Awards (May 2023); Best Bank Leading the way in ESG by Transformance Forums (April 2023); Best ESG Initiative to Improve Access to Sanitation by Transformance Forums (April 2023); Best CSR Sustainability Award – Economic Times BFSI Excellence Awards (February 2023); Navabharat BFSI Award for Best Sustainable Banking Strategy (October 2022); Social Impact Bank of the Year (September 2022); World Finance Organisation - Best Corporate Governance, India (June 2022).

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