Western Europe’s best bank for corporate responsibility 2022: CaixaBank
CaixaBank has its roots in corporate responsibility. It was founded in 1904 with the aim of fostering savings, retirement planning and disability insurance for the working class. The bank provides an interesting blueprint for CSR today through two institutions: the La Caixa Foundation and MicroBank, its specialist microlender.
“Our sustainability plan rests on three foundations: transition, positive social impact and transparency,” explains Eugenio Solla, chief sustainability officer at CaixaBank. "The social part of the ESG [environmental, social and governance] strategy focuses on financial inclusion, microfinance and employment."
The La Caixa Foundation is CaixaBank’s main shareholder and is one of the largest foundations in the world. In 2021, €40 million was channelled from it through the CaixaBank branch network to benefit local social entities. This involved 7,607 local charity organization projects and €3.2 million invested in collaboration with 11 local foundations in social and environmental calls for grants.
The foundation has also invested €700,000 in employment programmes for vulnerable groups in partnership with the Spanish Red Cross, Caritas Española and Randstad Foundation.
Last year, the La Caixa Foundation collaborated with food banks across Spain to contribute €2.3 million as part of the #NoHomeWithoutFood initiative – €1.3 million came from donations and €1 million from the foundation. It also delivered 126,512 school kits to socially vulnerable children through the CaixaProinfancia programme.
The bank saw a 68% increase in services and products targeting the specific needs of particular social groups, such as NGO cards, solutions for people with disabilities and social and inclusion accounts, which include bank accounts, cards and access to digital banking fee-free for vulnerable people. At the end of 2021, there were 211,432 of these social accounts.
CaixaBank was also the first bank in the Spanish market to create a specialist team for customers who are having difficulties in paying their mortgages. At the end of 2021, there were 13,235 social rent programme properties.
In 2021, MicroBank increased its total volume of social impact financing by 5.8% to €953 million, granting a record 107,000 microloans.
We have been focused on microfinance for the last 20 years... this is not a focus at many other banks
“We have been focused on microfinance for the last 20 years,” says Solla. "It is important to keep this expertise inside the bank – this is not a focus at many other banks."
MicroBank increased financing to families by 46% last year, granted 15,221 microloans for new businesses and helped complete 5,142 social impact projects in Spain for a total of €210 million. “The bank is looking for 30% growth in microlending from €2.5 billion from 2019 to 2021 to €3.5 billion from 2022 to 2024,” Solla adds.