The goal of working towards a fair and just society and finance sector has been key to Triodos Bank’s vision and mission since our foundation in 1980. Supported by our values and principles, we have defined our essence as a values-based bank that deals with money in a conscious way. This applies to everything we do, both in our business operations and within the organisation. The material topics are at the heart of our strategy and underpin management objectives.
Since the very start of our operations, we have been engaging and working together with key stakeholders to accomplish our goals. Our stakeholders have repeatedly confirmed that our material topics are also the most important in their eyes.
All the topics identified in the materiality matrix relate directly or indirectly to Triodos Bank’s purpose as an integrated sustainable bank using money to deliver positive change. Topics in blue are priorities for external stakeholders. They are defined by our business strategy and how we conduct client relationships. Material topics shown in green have a more internal focus. They are affected by how we operate as a responsible institution. We can have a direct impact on these topics; for example, by the way we select suppliers or through our remuneration policies.
Responsible, sustainable business is fully integrated in Triodos Bank’s vision, mission and strategy. As such, there are no dedicated separate management plans for material topics. They are explicitly and implicitly interwoven in Triodos Bank's strategic plans and goals.
In line with GRI’s mission to empower sustainable decisions, we engage in stakeholder dialogues to understand and incorporate their vision. We aim to integrate the outcomes of the various stakeholder engagements (including the survey and dialogue sessions) into our vision, strategy and policies, and implement them in our daily operations. As mentioned above, in 2021 we have taken additional steps to embed stakeholder engagement in our corporate strategy development.
The results of the materiality matrix suggest Triodos Bank’s stakeholders want and expect us to continue to be a leader in sustainable finance, with a strategy that reflects and supports that mission. Being a resilient financial institution is considered important for Triodos Bank, as are services/products with a social and/or sustainable purpose and working with sustainable suppliers. Material topics are discussed in more depth below and covered in relevant sections in the rest of the report.
Sustainable investments are at the heart of Triodos Bank’s work. The organisation promotes change by financing sustainable initiatives in key sectors. Their combined impact gives Triodos Bank the credibility to change finance. By increasing our influence, we are better able to stimulate positive systemic change in the banking sector.
The boundaries of sustainable investments are determined by Triodos Bank’s mission, business principles and minimum standards. These investments have a direct impact on entrepreneurs, businesses, sectors and society, which is further detailed in the Impact by sector chapter (see page Impact by sector). The definition of sustainable investments and whether or not to finance a prospective customer is constrained by Triodos Bank’s lending and investment criteria and based on balanced decisions made by experts in Triodos Bank’s lending and investment teams.
Procedures to assess and screen risks are undertaken by business managers supported by risk managers within Triodos Bank’s European network of offices. This process is described in more depth in the Risk and compliance chapter (see page Risk and compliance). Triodos Bank’s relationship managers interact with our borrowing customers on these issues. And all our assets are subject to positive and negative environmental and social screening.
New sustainable ventures are pioneering new enterprises that tackle at least one of society’s key challenges. For Triodos Bank, the transition to a regenerative economy is one of the most important, and a boundary for this material topic. Triodos Regenerative Money Centre (TRMC) aims to increase the conscious use of money through donations and catalytic investments. The initiative’s goal is to support a regenerative economy that serves people and is a steward of the earth’s ecosystems. TRMC aims to deliver its goals by supporting initiatives that pioneer new business models with an explicit goal to regenerate society and the planet. It aims to support initiatives that can fulfil a catalytic role as potential game-changers. The goal of every donation and catalytic investment is to increase consciousness and provide new perspectives on current questions in areas where, for different reasons, traditional bank and investment products cannot yet provide an answer.
TRMC manages four initiatives in one centre (Triodos Foundation, Triodos Sustainable Finance Foundation, Triodos Renewable Energy for Development Fund and Triodos Ventures). By combining these activities in one centre with a clear focus on transition thinking, Triodos Bank aims to further increase its impact.
Since inception, Triodos Bank has integrated mission and strategy. Unlike many other banks, we have always focused on risk, return and impact. That means this is a material topic, the boundaries of which encompass its entire activity. This integration of mission and strategy influences everything: from our governance structure – which safeguards the mission of the bank – to our exclusive focus on sustainable investments. Two of Triodos Bank’s three key strategic objectives, being a frontrunner in responsible finance and unlocking our purpose, reference our mission explicitly. The third strategic objective, to be one bank that isredesigned, responsive and robust, links to our long-term resilience, a key principle of values-based banking.
The analysis showed that our stakeholders emphasise Triodos Bank’s importance as a thought leader. As a frontrunner, the bank can stimulate wider change in the banking sector. This is true both for the activities we finance in specific sectors and for the debate about how the banking system can better serve society and meet the challenges we face.
Triodos Bank aims to be a catalyst for change in the banking sector, beyond its immediate activities of financing sustainable sectors. Changing the financial system so that it is better able to serve people while taking care of the environment we depend on is fundamental to our mission, hence its inclusion as a material topic. To do this, we need to not just be experts in banking, but also specialists in financing specific sustainable sectors. That's why we include sector-specific knowledge, as well as being an expert in sustainable finance, within the boundary of this topic.
In 2021, we published our net-zero target, with news articles in several renowned newspapers and news radio. Triodos Bank wants to be net zero as early as possible, by 2035 at the latest. Meeting this target will align our portfolio of loans and fund investments with a maximum global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Our net-zero target can serve as inspiration for our co-workers and all stakeholders that work with us to act faster and develop more robust plans that allow us, and the financial industry as a whole, to achieve net zero sooner. We want to increase our collaboration with clients, customers and other stakeholders to reach net-zero as one.
Triodos Bank also contributed to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). We participated in several events, where we discussed – amongst other topics – the urgency of climate action and the importance for all financial institutions of reaching net zero as early as possible.
At a European level, we are following the developments of the EU’s new sustainable finance strategy. We have published our response to the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive proposal. We are concerned by recent developments on taxonomy and advocate a taxonomy that is science-based. We are providing input for the new banking package and have published our position on this as well. Our work on this topic is led by Triodos Bank’s Chief Economist and a small team at Head Office as well as by senior management in Triodos Bank’s countries and Triodos Investment Management operations. Most of the resources applied to this work are in the form of people’s time, typically via speaking opportunities, collaboration on working groups and in partnerships.
All of our products contribute to the development of sustainable sectors. Products with a purpose are an important part of our strategic effort to ‘unlock our purpose’. They connect us with clients and society. The products we offer serve to prompt or stimulate actions from our clients. For example, private mortgages are available in Triodos Bank Netherlands, Spain and Belgium, which incentivise clients to improve energy efficiency by offering a discount on their mortgage rate as the environmental performance of their home improves.
Products are developed and managed at a business unit level by specialists in relevant fields. Platforms at Group level also provide a space to agree significant new products, share best practice and evaluate their performance across business units. This ensures that we can respond to local demand with appropriate, mission-linked products and services.
Another concrete example of a product with a purpose is the guarantee agreement signed by Triodos Bank and the European Investment Fund (EIF) in 2021. This guarantee facility allows Triodos Bank to provide up to EUR 200 million in loans to entrepreneurs in the creative and cultural sectors over the next two years in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Germany.
Strong client relationships limit the chances of loans and investments going wrong and make working through challenges easier when problems do occur. This is especially true of, and important to, values-based banks, who engage closely with the people they finance and the sectors they work in.
As a bank with a stakeholder rather than shareholder focus, our impact on this topic applies to different types of personal client. As part of this approach, we focus on improving the customer experience. Deepening our relationships has been a key strategic objective and is an integral part of Triodos Bank’s model. Indicators of our engagement on the topic include Net Promoter Scores, a mechanism to determine how positively, or otherwise, our clients regard their relationships with Triodos Bank. In addition, a grievance mechanism is in place for clients of all types.
Sustainability is not only about environmental issues, but also about social inclusion. This is linked with social inequality, which is increasingly dividing society. Triodos Bank aims to support a society that protects and promotes quality of life for all, with human dignity at its core.
We support those that contribute to a thriving, mutually supportive community and society, within the boundaries of this planet. The social and environmental transitions we face are inextricably connected and this makes social inclusion a key strategic theme. Triodos Bank is stepping up efforts to put social inclusion into practice for our clients, stakeholders and within the organisation (Impact by sector - social ). The latter is highlighted in more detail below in Responsible employer and in the Co-worker report .
The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown that social inclusion and sustainability go hand in hand. We cannot and must not see these two parts as being separate. Everyone is affected by the pandemic, but the extent to which people are affected varies widely for individuals all around the world.
people provided with accomodation via social housing projects financed
Being a resilient financial institution is important for all banks and an explicit principle of values-based banking. It forms the bedrock upon which values-based banks can deliver positive impact. An effective approach to risk management is a key element ensuring the long-term resilience of Triodos Bank. The boundaries of this topic include our institution and our clients.
The importance of being a resilient financial institution continued to be prominent in 2021, because of the negative impact on clients and DR holders of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges surrounding the capitalisation of Triodos Bank.
Trading in Triodos Bank Depository Receipts has been closed since 5 January 2021 in response to the heightened uncertainty in the economy as a whole, including the financial sector, caused by the pandemic.
Addressing the strategic challenge presented by the suspension was an urgent focus in 2021 and remains a top priority for Triodos Bank. We had intensive engagement with our Depository Receipt holders and other stakeholders on this topic through meetings, personal conversations and webinars. In December, we announced we will pursue a listing on a Multilateral Trading Facility.
In 2021, to further bolster our financial resilience we issued a green bond, which qualifies as a Tier 2 capital instrument. As such the bond provides Triodos Bank with an additional source of capital and the proceeds will be used to fund lending in renewable energy, environmentally sustainable management of living natural resources and land use and green buildings.
Financial resilience is a topic highlighted in many places throughout the annual report. This includes the Impact and financial results, Risk and compliance, and Financial accounts sections.
Protecting client data is seen as a priority by both our stakeholders and ourselves. Triodos Bank believes money can help change the world. Data can have a big impact too. Data helps Triodos Bank become a better bank by improving our service offerings and operations. We can use better understanding of the world and its people to prevent waste, reduce costs and create benefits for society. It helps us discover or predict risks and fraud, and enhance the reliability of our services.
When it comes to privacy and data protection, Triodos Bank believes:
that data is an abstraction, reduction of reality and an interpretation of behaviour. The world cannot be captured in abstractions and people should not be reduced to the data collected about them. And since data refers to the past it is not always a reliable predictor of the future.
that every individual has the right to be different in different situations, in other roles or at different times.
that each individual should maintain power and control over their own life, including personal data. This calls for freedom of choice, fairness and transparency on data collection, processing and usage.
that data is valuable; therefore, Triodos Bank has an obligation to keep the data it holds accurate, secure and confidential.
In addition to the issues we highlight here, we also publish an extensive data protection policy: ‘Respecting privacy and protecting personal data’ is available at www.triodos.com/download-centre.
This topic does not have the highest priority for our stakeholders and the bank. This may reflect satisfaction with the prevailing approach to remuneration at Triodos Bank and suggests that our policy is well understood. Remuneration within Triodos Bank is based on the principle that the bank’s results are the joint accomplishment of all co-workers. Remuneration within Triodos Bank is neutral for all co-workers, without regard to gender, ethnic background, age, sexual orientation or distance from the labour market. Triodos Bank does not offer bonuses and has a relatively low differential between its median and highest salary. For more details of our remuneration policy and our performance as a responsible employer, please see Remuneration Report 2021 in this annual report.
As a responsible employer, Triodos Bank focuses on creating a welcoming, inclusive environment. We believe each individual is important. Everyone should feel welcome, appreciated, safe and respected in our organisation.
The COVID-19 developments have shown us even more the importance of our personal health and well-being and that of our friends, family and colleagues. Triodos Bank takes the health and safety of co-workers seriously. We have paid considerable attention over the past year to supporting co-workers in this area.
As a responsible employer, we make space to discuss and learn about equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues and facilitate change where needed. Triodos Bank has taken steps to learn about blind spots, unconscious bias and to canvas co-workers’ views on EDI topics. We conducted an EDI survey in April 2021. Based on the results, an EDI year plan for 2022 has been approved by the Executive Board. The plan seeks to create more awareness, address unconscious bias, create a safe environment for dialogue sessions and kickstart self-driven initiatives.
The Diversity and Inclusion Officer works on the topic of EDI at Triodos Bank. She works closely with the Learning and Development Team, the Group Directors, Corporate Communications, and the Executive Board to make EDI-related change happen.
Triodos Bank’s role as a responsible employer is governed by the Group Director Human Resources at Head Office and specialists in its business units who have primary responsibility and resources to ensure the organisation delivers as a responsible employer, including the vitality and development of co-workers and a culture which supports our ambitions and mission. Their efforts are underpinned by policies, including on remuneration, and grievance mechanisms. Goals and targets are defined at Group level in the annual report and in local plans in the business units.
By directly engaging in business relationships with entrepreneurs, personal customers and Depository Receipt holders, Triodos Bank mobilises deposits and investments to finance values-driven entrepreneurs. This is delivering on our mission to be a catalyst for cultural, social and environmental change.
Engaging with communities is a material topic, whose boundaries are defined by Triodos Bank’s positive lending criteria. These criteria and our broader business model ensure that a very high percentage of our operations involve engagement with communities. Potential borrowers and investees are subject to a social and environmental assessment. As a bank that does not have a branch network in most countries where we operate, many of the communities we serve are not local to the business. For this reason, we do not conduct significant local community development programmes.
Triodos Bank discloses the results of its own social, environmental and cultural assessments in its annual report and other reports. This work is supported by a stakeholder engagement plan that is underpinned by a detailed description of our stakeholder groups, as set out in Materiality analysis (see above).
Triodos Bank has a grievance process that makes it accountable to third parties.
Being a learning organisation is a strategic priority for Triodos Bank. Collective learning brings positive energy, drives innovation and enhances our efficiency and our capacity to develop and change. Learning and development is relevant for all co-workers, regardless of their role or seniority.
Our stakeholders consistently urge us to be a frontrunner in finance. We will continuously develop to ensure we fulfil this objective and truly live our mission. In 2021, we adopted a Group-wide learning management system and Feedback Learning Objectives and Well-being (FLOW) dialogues, which have strengthened our ability to support co-workers’ long-term development.
Each Group Director is responsible for developing craftsmanship within their responsible functions. The Group Director Human Resources is responsible for developing and managing our learning and development approach Group-wide, including our Triodos Academy, talent and leadership development. This topic is covered in more depth in the Co-worker report.
Working with sustainable suppliers is an important material topic for Triodos Bank, because these relationships allow us to extend our positive impact. We have a role in creating awareness among suppliers on impact improvement. For this to succeed, we also need to build awareness internally on the interconnectedness of procurement and sustainability when selecting and maintaining relationships with our suppliers. This will be an area of focus in 2022.
We seek to maintain good relationships with our suppliers and business partners. We strive to build connections between suppliers to help them share best practice and gain insights into making a positive impact.