Developing Our Business Practices and Building a Richer Customer Experience
In 2020, because in-person visits to branches decreased 44% and use of mobile banking increased 41%, NBK implemented numerous initiatives and programs to build a satisfying customer experience within that new environment. These initiatives included digital transformation infrastructural changes, new reward and loyalty programs, concierge service, local delivery banking, youth programs and discounts, partnerships with popular retail outlets, and social-media-mediated education and support for customers as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Customer satisfaction remained essentially steady at 93% satisfaction despite the unprecedented changes forced by COVID-19, and NBK’s brand power remained the highest in Kuwait, basically unchanged from 2019, with significant jumps in meaningfulness, especially among Kuwaiti youth.
NBK’s Leadership Commitment to Sustainability / ESG is Strong
Welcome to NBK’s fifth full year of reporting on our sustainability efforts. The information throughout this section of our website along with our downloadable 2020 Sustainability Report, "Maintaining Course," covers the year 2020 - a year that has been one-of-a-kind for us, as COVID-19 presented a range of challenges. I am proud to say that despite these challenges, we were able to maintain our course towards financial and non-financial excellence, ultimately managing and overcoming our challenges successfully.
As with previous years, we have continued to assess and report on our environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance, including this year the COVID-19 pandemic and our resilience in response to it. We were able to support both our people and our customers in successfully navigating the COVID-19 challenges and view that as an important social contribution. We also report here on our engagements with the community, the development of our people, our strong governance, and our customer-centric and digitized business practices.
In preparing our report, we have continued to follow a stakeholder-focused and standards-aligned approach to sustainability. Accordingly, our report was developed with consideration given to a range of global and local sustainability frameworks and drivers, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Kuwait National Development Plan (KNDP). We benchmarked our performance in relation to widely-respected sustainability approaches in order to better impact and contribute in those areas. In alignment with GRI reporting practices, we once again conducted a materiality assessment as a foundation of our report in order to determine and focus our efforts on what is most significant to our stakeholders. This year, we were able to successfully engage a wider scope of internal and external stakeholders in conducting our materiality assessment. As a result, we plotted our results into a matrix, and further compared our results to previous years. The sustainability priorities that emerged from this assessment include reporting on our stakeholder engagement, calculation of sustainability return on investment (SROI), updating our sustainability targets, emphasizing our six sustainability pillars, and reporting on our path in line with ESG analysts and indices.
The leadership group at NBK is deeply committed to our sustainability journey. We view our efforts at improving our sustainability as integral to improving our business performance and enhancing our positive impact in the world. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I once again extend my gratitude to all NBK stakeholders, both internal and external, for their support of and collaborative contributions towards NBK’s ESG initiatives, operations, growth, and resilience. We invite you to look through our sustainability report, which reflects our commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement, and we look forward to any queries or feedback that you may have.
Nasser Musaed Abdulla Al-Sayer
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Evolution of NBK’s Sustainability–related Reporting and Disclosure
NBK's governance practices and financial performance have been covered in NBK's Annual Reports since our incorporation in 1952. Since 2008, we have also published annual Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Reports. Originally, these CSR reports focused primarily on our community giving initiatives in Kuwait, while also highlighting our key environmental programs. We are now releasing this 2020 NBK Sustainability Report as our fifth consecutive comprehensive Sustainability Report. This continues our commitment since 2016 of transparently communicating our approach to the full range of sustainability-related impacts, issues, and opportunities of interest to our stakeholders - covering the full range of Environment-Social-Governance (ESG) dimensions. All our 2017, 2018, 2019, and now our 2020 sustainability reports are in accordance with the core option of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, and our 2019 report as well as this 2020 report are aligned with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG), the Kuwait National Development Plan (KNDP)-New Kuwait Themes, and Boursa Kuwait Sustainability Disclosure Guide.
NBK’s Sustainability Highlights in 2020
- Lowered electricity consumption more than 70%
- Reduced water consumption more than 80%
- Recycled almost 100 metric tons of paper and 3,600 electronic devices
- Achieved 0 recordable or lost-time safety incidents
- Provided more than 50,000 hours of employee training
- Increased the percentage of women in our workforce to 46%
- Grew our Kuwaitization rate to 73%
- Increased our active mobile banking customers by 38%
- Increased our financial contribution to NBK Children’s Hospital 233%
- Achieved more than 2 million engagements from the public with our COVID-19 information and communications across our social media platforms
- Selected for the FTSE4Good ESG index
- Initiated process to add 2 independent directors to the Board of Directors (completed in 2021)
- Enhanced the role of the Risk and Compliance Committee to assess and develop strategies for Sustainability / ESG risks
- Strengthened our long-standing commitment to human rights by creating and approving a new Human Rights policy
Our Sustainability Approach
We have six Sustainability pillars, each with specific goals:
- Economic Development
- Corporate Governance
This year we also made it a central priority to combat the COVID-19 pandemic - by both supporting the health, safety, and well-being of our employees and helping our customers to successfully navigate their financial needs and stay well-informed in this challenging new landscape. Readiness and resilience in the face of the pandemic helped guide us through.
NBK conducted a broad range of engagement initiatives with our major stakeholders to solicit their views about which ESG areas are most material for us - including surveys, partnerships, reports, meetings, environmental projects, and intensive dialogue sessions. This enabled us to develop an exhaustive ESG Materiality Matrix of our sustainability priorities. What emerged were 19 material topics in five major areas of highest priority: strengthening our internal governance, enhancing our business practices and building a richer customer experience, caring for our employees, contributing to the larger Kuwaiti community, and reducing our environmental impact.
Resilience Throughout COVID-19
Every department played a role in NBK responding successfully to the COVID-19 global pandemic. We were able to rapidly implement and scale up the digital solutions and electronic services needed for remote work and for security and continuity in financial services provision. NBK's IT team supported the transition from on-site operations to a remote access infrastructure, enabling employees to work from home and to serve customers through virtual financial transactions. NBK also amplified customer support services to aid customers in this forced transition to mobile banking. Further, NBK leveraged all our social media channels and brand platforms to inform, educate, and motivate both customers and community members regarding pandemic safety measures.
Strengthening Our Internal Governance
NBK strengthened our commitment to the highest standards of governance by initiating the process to add two new independent members to the board of directors (completed this year), enhancing the role of the Risk and Compliance Committee in surfacing and managing a wide range of ESG-related risks, and emphasizing our long-standing commitment to human rights by creating and approving a new Human Rights policy.
We also have more than a dozen policies, charters, and statements - from anti-corruption and anti-money laundering to procurement to ethics, whistleblowing protections, and data privacy and security - that reflect our commitment to the highest ESG standards.
This year's sustainability report also provides extensive disclosure of a wide range of other ESG-relevant Key Performance Indicators in the area of governance, including board committees roles and directors performance.
Caring for Our People
Our 2020 Sustainability Report details dozens of leading edge practices we implemented to support the health of our employees in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased and comprehensive sanitation, personal protective equipment, changes to physical facilities, transition to digital infrastructural practices, support for working from home, providing dedicated time every day to NBK parents to allow them to support their children with online schooling, economic security support, and health, quarantine, and testing protocols.
Alongside all the COVID-19 efforts, NBK sustained our high levels of diversity in our workforce (46% of the workforce are women, and we have an extensive Women Empowerment Program), strong Kuwaitization progress (increased to 73% this year), and commitment to training, with more than 50,000 employee training hours during the year.
Positively Impacting the Larger Kuwaiti Community
NBK continued our decades-long commitment to the larger Kuwaiti community with increased major financial contributions to NBK Children’s Hospital - where our investment increased 288% this year - the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, and the Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospital, as well as new initiatives that leveraged our social media presence to educate and inform Kuwaiti society about COVID-19, achieving nearly 2 million engagements across our six major social media platforms. We also donated 1 Million KWD for the purchase of ventilators and a mobile COVID-19 clinic.
Managing Our Environmental Impact
With the reduced time that employees spent in the office due to COVID-19 and NBK’s long-awaited move into our new LEED-Gold headquarters office building, we achieved 70% and 80% reductions in our electricity and water consumption, respectively. We are committing in this year’s report to using this new level of performance as a starting baseline for future goal setting and measuring progress. We also reduced paper use overall as well as recycled nearly 100 metric tons of paper, lowering our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 615 metric tons just from those two efforts alone. We also recycled over 3,600 electronic devices.