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CSR in practice in Luxembourg

Fortis, which is a major bank in Luxembourg, has this week published a press release relating to a Cheque for EUR 2,500 presented to “Les Amis de Gambie”, a charity.
The presentation was made following an in-house campaign at the bank to raise awareness of environmental protection issues. Called “Eco Vert”, the campaign was organised by the Facility Management Department and consisted of a series of actions aimed at the entire staff.
Employees had the possibility to purchase hand-made chocolates crafted in the shape of the campaign's mascot, Eco, the green owl. Some 10,000 chocolates have been sold in the space of four months, and the money will be used to finance the installation of solar panels at an orphanage under construction in Sinchu, a project conducted by “Les Amis de Gambie” in the North of Gambia.
As explained these efforts are part of Fortis's initiatives to promote sustainable development and position itself as a socially and environmentally responsible organisation.
But when looking the bottom of the press release it is explained that with a market capitalisation of EUR 40.3 billion (30/11/2007), Fortis ranks among the fifteen largest financial institutions in Europe.
Therefore the society is given 0,000000057736720554272500000000 % of the market capitalisation, which is very considerable effort for a Corporate Body that communicates on it (the society is given 0,00000371913121094912000 % of the 672.2 million euros of Net profit attributable to shareholders according to Annual Report 2006.

To be fair one must take into account every press release relating to money given in 2007 :
6 February 2007 : Cheques for a total of € 5,000 to Fondation Luxembourgeoise contre le Cancer and Info-Handicap
25 July 2007 : 4.000 euro cheque for Ligue HMC
October 2007 : EUR 2,000 cheque to ‘Réimecher Heem’
12 October : cheque for EUR 1,500 to “Haus vun der Natur”
14 November 2007 : EUR 2,000 cheque to the ‘Frënn vun de Staatléche Kannerheemer’ association
5 December 2007 : Cheque for EUR 2,500 presented to “Les Amis de Gambie”

The total is : EUR 17,000 : 0,000025290092234454000000000000 % of the net profit of EUR 672.2 million reported as well in a press release.

Additionaly the Fortis Foundation Luxembourg was launched on 15 mars 2006 with a budget of EUR 500,000 (0,000743826 % of the net profit of EUR 672.2 million) to provide financial and other support for projects promoting social progress and well-being in a broad sense (see page 46 of the CSR Report 2006)

Even though any money that is given to non profit making societies is good, this is perfect example of the wrong approach to CSR in Luxembourg as explained in a previous post. Expressed Business ethics and/or deontology is unfortunately missing despite it is the critical criteria for CSR and sustainable development for the financial organisations. A google search on the word ethics, éthique, déontologie or deontology on site:fortisbanque.lu is empty. Nevertheless to be fair, for these words but deontology there are references for a search for site:fortis.com.

The www.fortis.com has an area about CSR. Business ethics is not quoted in the Mission and vision page. But the first page of policies and guidelines is relating to integrity. How integrity can be trusted by stakeholders when firms in Luxembourg communicate on this word while publicly not complying with it?
Fortis communicates as well on its Principles of Business Conduct. But what is the value of such code for stakeholders when companies including auditors behave publicly in a way that do not comply with their own code if any?

Why Fortis commitment would be reliable?

Anyway by not repudiating publicly those who behave publicly in a way that do not comply with their own ethical statements (either fellow bankers or suppliers), Fortis Luxembourg unfortunately weakens the credibility of its own policies and guidelines in a small center like Luxembourg where there must be no gap between what is said and what is seen, implemented and enforced publicly. One knows where the falsehood starts. One ignores when it ends.

I am sad about that for the brand.

06:25 Posted in Luxembourg | Permalink | Comments (0)

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