28 May 2021
This month, we introduce Mr Keagan Rubel, Head of Sustainability, APAC of Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) for CBRE and a By The Bay (BTB) Green Champs Representative, who shares insights on how sustainability features as one of SCB’s four key strategic pillars, starting from being at the heart of the global financial brand’s “Here for good” brand promise, to sustainable investments as well as facilitating a transition to a low carbon economy.
What role does sustainability play in SCB’s overall strategic plan?
Sustainability is one of our four key strategic pillars, and at the heart of our “Here for good” brand promise. Even our new SCB logo has water droplets incorporated into the art, and the colors blue and green are indicative of the sustainability message at our core. Beyond that, we have concrete targets and kpis that departments / management must achieve and are closely followed in regards to various sustainability focal points.
What are the objectives and targets of your/SCB sustainability efforts, and what progress has been made in meeting the goals?
We have a number of very ambitious goals, including RE100 (sourcing 100% of our electricity by renewable sources by 2030) and aligning with our decarbonisation with the Science Based Targets initiative. Also, we have some targets that we are committed to internally, such as achieving a Zero Waste footprint and achieving carbon neutrality. For the carbon reduction initiatives we have achieved around a 30% reduction over the last 5 years, and are aiming to achieve even larger cuts in the next 5 years.
We have just kicked off our Zero Waste journey, and globally as single-use plastic free, and expect to have more good news in that area soon as well. Otherwise we have a wide range of targets around energy, water, waste, recycling, carbon emissions from our buildings, flight and transport emissions to name a few. Additionally, we have targets around sustainable investments as well as facilitating a transition to a low carbon economy.
What business value have you seen from your/SCB sustainability efforts?
Our efforts to be decarbonize and reduce our waste-footprint and reduce of water consumption, for example, means that we are using resources more efficiency and in most cases results in a cost savings. However, this is not a cost-centric approach nor motivated primarily by the financial considerations – we are firmly committed to walking the talk to be “Here for good”, and when we are making decisions about how to actualize our corporate values then cost tends to take a back seat to the positive impact that we can deliver. Secondly, being a leader in the space also means aligning with the values of our staff and other key stakeholders, so from a “business value” perspective, talent attraction and retention are considerations that an organisation like SCB with an HR cost around USD 7 Billion must also take a strategic approach and ensure leadership and alignment.
How are you engaging your employees in your/SCB sustainability efforts?
Staff engagement is a tricky one as a lot of the sustainability efforts from an organisational perspective tend to be around things like lowering energy consumption through Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) optimisation or occupying a highly energy efficiency and sustainable building, such as a GreenMark Platinum building or LEED certified building. However, our journey towards Zero Waste is one way in which we really need all hands on deck and to join together to be on the right side of history, and so we do have a range of messaging, activities, challenges, campaigns etc to promote our valued behaviours to encourage staff to do the right thing and waste less and recycle more, for example. Otherwise, we have Green Teams that are bottom-up sustainability groups that focus on sustainability impacts relevant to their departments.
Paper is a good example of this – paper consumption is a massively underestimated environmental impact and a big issue for a financial services company like SCB, but at the end of the day, the challenges faced by the Retail Bank vs Operational Risk vs Property teams for example are inherently dissimilar and require department-led reduction efforts, and that is one reason both a top down but also a bottom up approach are really needed here.
How has the ongoing pandemic altered the challenge of making sustainability the global norm? Are the viable pathways and solutions changing as a result of COVID-19?
Covid-19 has forced us to become more digital, which has both pros and cons from a sustainability perspective. But it will certainly mean more working from home and less air travel in the future, and that will mean less transport emission and less commercial building space requirements. But most importantly, it has made us all realize that massive change can be achieved relatively quickly, and it has given us the space to physiologically – as everyone is adjusting to the new norm of a (hopefully soon) post-covid world, it has given an opportunity to bake-in sustainable elements into that new vision of the future and that has given sustainable efforts in general a positive boost and an ability to make a step-change in some cases as opposed to the incremental improvement that more typical.
For you/SCB, what does it mean to achieve sustainability?
Being sustainable means viewing the world through a lens that considers a much longer time span and much broader geographic boundary. When we take stewardship of our impacts across decades and those that impact at a global level, then it changes our decision making paradigm and leads to more sustainable attitudes and to am more robust and comprehensive decision making framework.
What does being in the green champs committee of By The Bay mean to you/SCB ?
Sustainability is by nature inherently a very collaborative exercise, and this is a great example of that. We will always achieve more working together than alone, and its great to be part of these passionate and informed individual to work together for the greater good.
The Green Champs committee was formed to support tenants at BTB in their efforts to advocate greater sustainability awareness, committed to the call for greener living and reduction of harmful carbon footprint.
Are you passionate about sustainability and are keen to do more? Join the Green Champs Committee as we strive towards driving sustainability. Register your interest: firstname.lastname@example.org