As a Group, we recognise that we owe a duty not only to our shareholders but to the wider society in which we operate. As a large employer in Georgia, it is incumbent upon us to play a leading role in minimising our impact upon the environment, to be an employer of choice and to drive positive change in society. We consider sustainability to be integral to the growth of our business. Our sustainability agenda allows us to be profitable as well as environmentally and socially responsible. By implementing a sustainability approach in our activities, we foster long-term relationships with our main stakeholders, providing high return on investment for shareholders, satisfying the financial needs of customers, developing employees and contributing to the economic and social welfare of the local communities, while taking into account our environmental footprint.
In 2018, the Board of Directors adopted an Environmental and Social Policy for the Group (BGEO Group, the predecessor of the Group, had the policy in place since 2012) in order to effectively manage the Group’s direct and indirect impact on society and the environment. This policy describes the Group’s strategy to develop solid management controls to conserve natural resources, minimise health and safety risks, and provide employees with equal development opportunities, fair compensation and benefits. We are pioneering sustainability practices in our operations and are constantly seeking new ways to improve our performance.
The Group continues to be included in the global responsible investment index FTSE4Good. The index is designed to demonstrate strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices measured against international standards.
As part of our sponsorship and charitable activities, the Group continues to focus on promoting and enhancing access to education, conserving nature, supporting people with disabilities.Learn more
SPONSORSHIP AND CHARITY
As part of our sponsorship and charitable activities, the Group continues to focus on promoting and enhancing access to education, conserving nature, supporting people with disabilities and special needs, developing social enterprises and facilitating innovative projects that focus on social goods. The Group’s Sponsorship and Charity Policy encourages partnerships with various foundations and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to deliver sustainable results and bring positive change. Sponsorship and charity funds are channelled through the Bank’s Tree of Life Foundation that, in its turn, distributes funding by means of grant competitions in order to ensure transparent and fair methods of financing. The Group also implements its own social projects. In 2018, Tree of Life has allocated around GEL 1.7 million to support education, nature conservation, people with disabilities and special needs, social platforms, and the development of social entrepreneurship. Bank of Georgia together with the Tree of Life Foundation established a charity platform www.donate.ge, which connects the people in need with those who are willing to donate items, clothes, books, etc. The platform offers collection, sorting and delivery of items. In 2017-2018, 41,815 items were collected with help from 428 donors and www.donate.ge has already supported 1,360 beneficiaries.
Bank of Georgia recognises the impact it can have on the country’s social-economic development. Therefore, the Bank launched a grant programme to support socially driven enterprises in Georgia. In 2016-2018, Bank of Georgia supported ten social enterprises with up to GEL 387 thousand and GEL 50 thousand per project. At the same time, the Bank provided pro-bono services by helping the businesses in areas such as marketing, public relations, information technology, etc. The Bank partners with various NGOs to maximise its role in the social cause.
PROMOTING AND ENHANCING ACCESS TO EDUCATION
Bank of Georgia University has offered a top quality master’s degree programme since its foundation in 2014. The university welcomed its fifth intake of MBA students in 2018 and simultaneously launched a bachelor’s degree programme in 2017. The cost of studies in 2017-2018 were again largely subsidised by the Bank with GEL 767 thousand. Up to 20 students study at no cost, while 40 students benefit from a 0% loan with grace period until graduation. Bank of Georgia University provides its students with hands-on experience by offering them the possibility to observe various business processes at the Group’s companies.
In 2013, the Bank became the first Georgian company to cooperate with one of the most prestigious scholarship programmes in the world – the Chevening scholarship. This cooperation provides Georgian students with an opportunity to pursue education in the UK. In 2018, the Group provided up to GBP 100 thousand to finance a master’s degree programme for three students. The partnership with Chevening will continue next year and the Group is looking forward to selecting students who will continue their studies in the UK.
In 2014, the Bank signed a partnership agreement with the prestigious US Fulbright scholarship scheme. Thanks to the Bank of Georgia’s contribution, a selected number of students from Georgia are able to enrol in a two-year master’s degree programme at a US university. In 2018, the funding provided to the students for their two-year degrees amounted to US$ 50 thousand. Since 2014, the Bank has granted US$ 300 thousand to the US Fulbright scholarship programme.
Starting from 2018, Bank of Georgia supports San Diego State University (SDSU) Georgia. For 2018-2019 academic year the Bank will finance the scholarships for ten students in the amount of up to US$ 80 thousand. Over the last four years, the Bank has been supporting a public speaking competition organised by the English Speaking Union Georgia. The competition allows high school senior year or first year university students to prepare a speech on a pre-selected topic and present it in front of a competent jury. The winner is granted a fully paid trip to London to attend a global public speaking competition. We aim to support this competition in 2019 as well.
The Bank has been supporting every single TEDx Tbilisi conference since they were first organised in 2012. A TEDx conference is a locally organised TED format event, where communities, organisations and individuals join to initiate a conversation and connect with each other on different topics, which are important to society.
In 2018, Bank of Georgia became a general sponsor of the Georgian National Olympic Committee, which the Bank will support in all of its planned sports activities up until 2020. In 2018, the Bank granted monetary awards to the best young Georgian sportsman of 2018, selected by the Georgian National Olympic Committee, and to the winner of the boys’ Greco-Roman 60kg competition at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Bank’s partnership with the Georgian National Olympic Committee aims to support and popularise sport in Georgia, to raise awareness of Georgian athletes and to provide information on Olympic Games.
In 2018, Bank of Georgia’s Corporate Investment Banking team organised a charity auction-exhibition of modern Georgian paintings and invited its top clients to participate in the cause. As a result, US$ 75,000 collected from the auction was rounded to US$ 100,000 by the Bank and the amount is directed at financing extremely talented children from Georgia’s highlands. The first batch of five children will study English in summer school in the UK. These children gained huge popularity on social media for popularising Georgian regions.
In our effort to spread internet access to financially disadvantaged families in Georgia, we support a social enterprise www.charte.ge. We believe that this project is crucial for access to education. In 2018, we granted laptops and access to internet to 19 families near the conflict zone in the village of Dvani.
SUPPORTING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Since 2014, the Bank has focused its efforts on supporting people with disabilities – one of the most vulnerable social groups in Georgia. In 2018, the Bank donated up to GEL 75 thousand to the Tree of Life Foundation for this cause. The Tree of Life Foundation distributed the funds through grant competitions – one intended for the relevant NGOs that work with people with disabilities and another with the specific aim of promoting social entrepreneurship. In order to qualify for the competition, the proposals had to focus on the creation of a small enterprise with a social component aimed at improving the livelihood of people with disabilities.
Bank of Georgia financed a social enterprise, Tsnuli, founded by the People with Disabilities Union in Kaspi – a town 65 km from Tbilisi. The enterprise makes handmade wood-woven products of various shapes and sizes, namely, baskets, lamps, furniture, etc. Tsnuli employs seven beneficiaries with disabilities, who were taught the craft in just three months. Employment in Tsnuli gave the beneficiaries a unique opportunity to learn new skills and materialise their newly gained know-how in a supportive atmosphere. The enterprise aims to improve the quality of life of its employees and plans to expand in the future and benefit even more people on its way.
The Bank continues to focus on the adaptation of its own infrastructure. In 2018, an additional ten service centres became available for people with disabilities.
Another priority of the Group’s charitable activities is the preservation of wildlife diversity. The Bank cooperates with the Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) and each year donates US$ 100,000 for the maintenance of ten protected areas: Borjomi-Kharagauli, Lagodekhi, Tusheti, Vashlovani Mtirala, Javakheti, Kazbegi, Algeti, Kintrishi and Pshav-Khevsureti. In order to promote eco-tourism in Georgia, the Bank’s Tree of Life Foundation financed an eco-camp in Lagodekhi Protected Area in Kakheti, Eastern Georgia. The eco-camp can host 50 visitors at a time and is equipped with water closets, kitchens, a wooden cafeteria, and communication infrastructure. Moreover, the visitors can hold conferences, training, sport competitions, screen films and organize events in open air. The camp has a space for tents, including large ones designed for people with disabilities. The eco-camp received its first visitors in the summer of 2018 and had hosted c.800 people by the end of 2018. The camp employs five people, including people with disabilities.
In order to raise awareness about conserving nature and the importance of ecology, Bank of Georgia is actively involved in a number of activities such as World Cleanup Day. Over the last two years, the Bank has recycled around eight tonnes of used paper in its headquarters and saved 136 trees as a result. In 2018, Bank of Georgia’s employees continued using a car pooling application called “Gzad”. The application enables them to share a ride to and from the Bank, which in turn helps reduce air pollution and ease the traffic in Tbilisi.
In 2018, Bank of Georgia’s Tree of Life Foundation financed a social enterprise Green Gift, whose goal is to manufacture and promote products made of recycled paper. The enterprise cooperates with a number of companies to collect used paper, process it and manufacture useful and eco-friendly products. With the grant from Bank of Georgia, Green Gift aims to strengthen its resources, both in human and technical terms.
We value the views of our employees. We consult with them regularly and have implemented feedback systems, such as regular employee satisfaction surveys.Learn more
We value the views of our employees. We consult with them regularly and have implemented feedback systems, such as regular employee satisfaction surveys, which ensure that opinions of our employees are taken into account when making decisions which are likely to affect their interests. Employee feedback also helps to improve our customer-focused approach. In 2018, by the Supervisory Board’s initiative, the Bank introduced Employee Voice on Board event, nurturing a culture of sharing, feedback, transparency, equal opportunities, appreciation, trust and respect. The first meeting was held on 20 September 2018. It was facilitated by the Supervisory Board Vice-chairman Ms. Hanna Loikkanen and Chairman Mr. Neil Janin and 18 employees from the Bank’s leadership pool participated in the meeting. The meeting overview was shared with employees and the Board. The next meeting is scheduled for Spring 2019.
Following the Barrett Organisational Values assessment last year, in 2018, we prepared our employee engagement survey in cooperation with Korn Ferry representative office in Ukraine and created a holistic view of the cultural factors in the performance indicators. Using Korn Ferry’s Engaged Performance™ Framework in 2019 we will have better insights regarding the current state and the future initiatives on employee engagement, inclusion and other issues related to employee productivity.
The Bank supports gender diversity and monitors a fair balance in its workforce. Please follow the link to the Hampton-Alexander review.
Our recruitment policy and relevant control procedures ensure an unbiased hiring process that provides equal employment opportunities for all candidates. However, internal candidates have a priority when filling vacant positions, especially in situations where there are vacancies in top and middle management. Thus, in 2018, 191 Group employees (102 women and 89 men) were promoted to managerial positions.
In order to attract young talent, we actively partner with leading Georgian business schools and universities, participate in job fairs and run extensive internship programmes aimed at the development of young professionals. Since 2012, the Bank runs regular internship programmes in its special format and constantly develops it. The program attracts promising graduates and provides them with the opportunity to participate in professional trainings. Interns are directly coached by the Bank’s executives and middle managers.
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
In 2014-2015, Bank of Georgia launched a Leadership Development Executive Coaching programme. It provides an individual approach towards developing leadership skills. The programme continued to run successfully throughout 2018 and further expanded to lower leadership levels, having benefited its participants with a personally tailored development experience. Employees involved in the programme gained greater awareness of their leadership strengths and opportunities for future growth. Based on its previous years’ experience, the Bank regularly updates and improves its Leadership Development System together with the 360 degree feedback process. The last update of Leadership Competency Models was delivered for 2018 360 Feedback.
The Bank has developed an extensive training programme for front office employees in order to provide them with relevant skills such as: effective communication and building strong and valuable client relationships. In-house client-centric sales programme for Express and Retail Business Banking employees has been developed by internal learning experience and a team of trainers. The goal is to enhance their conversational sales skills and help them develop mutually beneficial relationships with customers, switch their mindset from a product-centric approach to the client-centric approach and equip them with new skills and techniques accordingly.
We partnered with international consulting and training company Franklin Covey for development of a training programme for our sales force to better understand the Bank’s client-centered approach. Participants of this training programme will improve their ability to dialogue with clients in order to achieve common goals, build long-term sustainable solutions for our clients and help them in their decision making process of buying products and services.
The Bank’s mentoring programme is part of front office training. Every new employee is provided with regular advice, guidance and practical instructions from an appointed mentor, who later also evaluates a new employee’s performance. Through this programme we aim to provide individual support to our employees in achieving their professional goals. In 2017, the Bank launched an online Learning Management System (LMS) to offer its employees an easy and comfortable access to corporate learning opportunities. On average 250 unique users are participating in various programmes daily. LMS currently offers more than 70 distance and blended courses for professional development, various blogs, translated articles and videos about important topics. The Bank has updated the onboarding programme, which is a special welcoming event for the employees at all levels. It is an orientation programme, where information about the organisational culture, the Bank’s values and benefits for employees are delivered and discussed. Participants are also informed about the Bank’s social responsibilities, career opportunities, learning, personal and professional development.