D&I in the Financial Sector in Europe

The financial sector constitutes the largest Industry cluster when analysing blue-chip companies in Europe. Does the economic strength translate into D&I leadership or will questions over ethics be confirmed? A comparative summary of results

While at a first glance, the 19 banks, insurance and real estate / investment companies seem to mirror the overall integration of D&I in their Corporate reports (2015-2016), a more in-depth look provides some interesting differences. Analysing the Corporate Responsibility / Sustainability Reports resulted in more specifics whereas the Annual Reports of Financial corporations are quite similar to those of their peer group from other sectors.

Prevalence of D&I in Corporate Reports

18 of 19 Annual Reports and all 15 CSR reports from the Finance world contain some information on D&I policies or practices. These results are slights below or above the respective average of all 75 Stoxx®50 and EuroStoxx®50 combined. This also applies for the average number of pages as indicators for the volume of information communicated in these reports. Financial corporations write 1.34 pages on average in their Annual reports (compared to 1.4 for all 75 blue-chips) and 2.65 pages in their CSR reports (compared to a 2.4 pages average). Accordingly, the D&I information included in Annual reports is more likely to be a little shorter than the entire sample or the CSR reports, while there is a large group of 9 Financial CSR reports that contain two or more pages on D&I.

Specificity of D&I communication

Diversity – usually combined with one other paradigm, mostly Inclusion – is clearly the preferred terminology in the Financial Industry. Consistent with this finding, this industry sample makes more frequent references to specific dimensions than the overall sample. 50% of Annual Reports and CSR reports from the Financial Industry mention six or more dimensions of Diversity (compared to five in the overall group). A mighty 79% of CSR reports mention five dimensions or more (compared to 54% of the entire group across all sectors). While the number one dimension is Gender for all samples and subsamples. Interestingly, the Annual Reports in the Financial Industry tend to contain specific mentions of more dimensions than the CSR reports, and with a slightly different emphasis: While gender and (inter)nationality form the top group in the Annual Reports, gender and disability do so in CSR reports. A good half of Annual Reports also speak about disability, ethnicity, LGBT, age and work/life balance. Religion is mentioned in six CSR and seven Annual reports. The same amount of Annual reports (and eight CSR reports) also refer to other dimensions including experience or skills.

Quality of D&I communication

While mentioning a clear commitment to D&I is the most frequent type of D&I message, more Financial Annual reports (72%) contain concrete D&I activities and more CSR reports (60%) contain concrete D&I achievements than the overall sample do (59% and 44% respectively). The reports from the Financial Industry describe, on average, more D&I activities than the overall sample: CSR reports, on average, contain 5 activities per report (compared to 4.5 in all CSR reports), Annual reports describe 4.9 activities, compared to 4.75 for all Annual reports. Similar to the overall data reporting strategy, Financial corporations communicate mainly the gender split for various populations (top management, management or workforce). There are few differences compared with the overall group of blue-chip corporations in this respect or regarding other diversity data included (mostly the internationality of the workforce or the management population). The majority of CSR reports from the Financial Industry also contains workforce data by age or abilities.

In line with the gender focus in data reporting and specifying Diversity dimensions, the vast majority of programmes mentioned in the Corporate Reports of the financial Industry refer to women or gender. Additional topical programmes cover age, disability or LGBTI. General programmes include education and training (e.g. around biases) or external partnerships (e.g. events).

Relevance: A systematic analysis – since 2008

Corporate Reporting forms a key element in corporate communication as it relates to business topics that are considered strategic priorities. In 2008, when the first systematic analysis was carried out (analysing reports for the year 2007), including Diversity in investor communication (i.e. Annual Reports) or Public Relations (i.e. CSR or similar reports) was an important indicator for how seriously the topic was tackled. In the following years, the research became a way to identify trends in D&I, mainly through the breadth, nature and depth of the information communicated. None of these data, however, provide a full picture of what companies are doing in the D&I area as some, many or most activities will not be included in the reports analysed.

The 75 Annual Reports for 2015, analysed in 2016/17 represent a combination of the Stoxx®50Europe and the EuroStoxx®50, 25 of which overlap.

The 19 Financial corporations included in the sample are Allianz, Assicurazioni Generali, Axa, Barclays, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Banco Santander, Banque Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Lloyds, Münchener Rück, Prudential, Société Générale, UBS, Unibail-Rodamco, Unicredit, and Zurich.