The Sensitive Business Risks process

A key element of our Sustainability Risk Framework is the Sensitive Business Risks process: with the help of its two due-diligence tools we assess the environmental and social impacts of individual transactions, in accordance with the criteria specified by the framework's policies.

Two due-diligence tools

Each policy of our Sustainability Risk Framework contains a set of criteria and qualitative standards which define precisely when our underwriters and client managers need to refer a transaction to the Sensitive Business Risks (SBR) process. In mid-2015, we introduced a new online Sensitive Business Risk (SBR) assessment tool, which enables our underwriters to screen potentially transactions sensitive for their impacts on the local environment and on the human rights of the affected people and workforces.

If this initial screening reveals any potential issues, our underwriters carry out further due diligence measures. Finally, they transfer the most critical transactions through the Sensitive Business Risks (SBR) referral tool to our team of sustainability experts, who conduct targeted research to decide whether the transaction at hand is acceptable on ethical grounds.

This decision takes the form of a binding recommendation either to go ahead with the transaction, to go ahead with certain conditions attached, or to abstain. If there is disagreement about the recommendation, the case can be escalated to the next management level and, ultimately, to the Group Chief Risk Officer and the Group Executive Committee.

Careful assessments

The ethical principles that underlie the policies of our Sustainability Risk Framework give us valuable guidance in making decisions that consider universal fundamental rights. However, this is not sufficient in a business context. What we also need to consider are the social and economic implications of our decisions in their respective cultural contexts. Last but not least, we need to take into account the implications for our own business.

Balancing these various aspects requires the careful and consistent assessment of a transaction and its local effects, often in collaboration and dialogue with external experts and local stakeholders.

Key figures

In 2016, our underwriters used the online assessment tool to carry out due diligence checks on 7 139 transactions (3 550 in the second half of 2015, after its introduction). Since the tool precisely identifies those transactions that require further assessment from our sustainability experts, the number of referrals has been falling. In 2016, 219 transactions were referred; of these, we issued negative recommendations in 21 cases and positive ones with conditions attached in 20 cases.

Corporate responsibility

Corporate responsibility

We have a long-standing commitment to corporate responsibility and strive to implement this across our business. Our performance has received high ratings from independent third-party organisations.

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