Sustainable banking in the community

Part of being a sustainable business is being a positive driving force in the communities that you operate in, and our enterprise and financial education programmes are helping to demonstrate just that; we’re giving something back. The CEO of Ulster Bank ROI (UBIDAC), Gerry Mallon said,

“Running our business in a responsible and sustainable way is at the core of our ambition, and is fundamental to achieving it. Sustainable banking means serving our customers exceptionally well, motivating and engaging our people to deliver that service, and making a difference to the communities we serve.”

Organising and raising awareness of these programmes is essential to their success. Elisabeth Dare leads these initiatives at Ulster Bank, and she took some time to talk to us about the programmes and what her role entails.

With a background in Environmental Science, and a qualification as a Financial Adviser, Elisabeth manages the Community affairs programme in Ulster Bank ROI, managing relationships with stakeholders such as governmental departments, NGO’s, and education providers to support them with our employee volunteering and charity work.

Thanks for taking some time to speak to me Elisabeth, can you tell me what it is you enjoy about your role in the bank?

‘It’s no problem at all – this is a topic that I enjoy talking about. Firstly, it’s important to know that Ulster Bank ROI has been a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and won the “Outstanding Achievement in CSR” award in 2015, and the “Excellence in CSR Communications” award in 2017. To be working for a company that is one of the leaders in this area is really rewarding.

‘I love the variety of the role. I’ll travel to events, such as the Teachers Union conference, or out to community programmes which I enjoy, but I really like the internal communications side of the role too, as it allows me to share information and insight into some of the great work that has taken place.’

It sounds like the role has a lot of components to it. Have there been any particular highlights?

‘Everyone coming together for the Do Good Feel Good week in June was fantastic - seeing so many people wanting to fundraise for charity, and do their bit. This was a particularly special time for me, as it was the first campaign that I ran and the fact that we raised €100,000 in just a week is outstanding.

‘This year Irish Heart was our primary charity, and through bake sales and outdoor activities such as kayaking and bungee jumping, we really did manage to exceed our expectations. During the past five years, we’ve raised around €1.7m in ROI and NI. And, achievements aside, it was a really fun week too.’

And how do you see the programmes and your role developing in the future?

‘Looking at ways to raise awareness of what we offer, building networks, and planning for the upcoming months it’s an on-going process. I’m always looking at ways to evolve the programmes, and the relationships we’ve built up are key to this. The wider the network we can build the better. I’m always thinking about what we can improve and build upon too, and about the logistics of how everything works together.

‘I’m looking forward to highlighting sustainability in the report next year too, and really evidencing what we’ve achieved during this year. It’ll really articulate how the programmes that we offer have impacted our local communities for the better.’

Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to become involved?

‘Look on the intranet and news hub to keep up-to-date with what community events are taking place, there’s always something new. This year we had a push around CPR, training as many people in it as possible. There is a lot happening to get involved with.

‘There are six key pillars to our programme. In addition to our Do Good Feel Good week there is Community Cashback, which is a global community initiative that recognises employee fundraising and volunteering by offering an award of €250 to the charity if certain criteria are met. Then we have the Skills & Opportunities fund, which is one of our flagship programmes that helps people in disadvantaged communities to develop, create or access skills and opportunities.

‘All employees are also entitled to three days per year to volunteer in addition to their holiday entitlement, and we work with a variety of charities so there is a lot you can get involved in. Similarly, we work closely with many education providers through our MoneySense programme which offers free and impartial financial education for 5-18 year olds.

‘Our final programme is the Staff Charity Fund, which is an effective way to donate to charity directly through our payroll system. We have a number of registered charities aligned to us, and everyone can choose how much they wish to donate. It’s an easy way to support some lesser known causes in the local community.’

It’s great to hear about some of the fantastic work that has taken place so far. I hope that 2018 continues to drive more awareness and encourage people to get involved.

Please visit Ulster Bank’s site to find out more.