1. ESG strategy

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) strategy

Where we plan to devote our focus over the coming years
Man planterar träd i skogen

Sustainability is broad-ranging by nature, covering a diverse range of issues and themes. This is why we have created a long-term strategy for Handelsbanken in the UK, to focus our efforts where we can have most positive impact through our distinctive business model and market position, and to ensure we continuously evolve our sustainability work.

Our vision

Our vision is to be recognised as the most sustainable bank among comparable peers, both through our values-led business model and our chosen areas of focus. Through this profile we attract customers, colleagues and suppliers who also take a responsible view on ESG. 

We will support our customers – with ongoing guidance and suitable products – to financially align their values, address their ESG risks, and grasp opportunities from the transition to a sustainable economy.

Colleagues collaborate on cross-functional plans to eliminate our negative direct impacts, engage with suppliers on theirs and contribute to wider environmental and social improvement. 

Sustainability is embedded in all functions of the Bank and its strategy; colleagues - from frontline employees to senior leaders - are engaged and accountable, with a shared sustainability mindset. The Bank’s culture, structures, policies, and diverse workforce create conditions for reaching our sustainability goals, through decentralised activities coordinated under a common framework.

Richard Winder, Head of Sustainability, talks about our strategy and sustainability priorities for 2022


ESG focuses

Acknowledging our broader ESG obligations, we have chosen 12 active ESG focuses for the Bank over the years ahead. Each focus has been agreed based on its relevance to a domestic bank, resonance with our particular business model and market position, and overall scope for positive impact. These focuses align closely with the six UN Sustainable Development Goals the Handelsbanken Group has chosen to prioritise, thus ensuring our work contributes to the wider 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Environmental themes

Climate action – Helping customers adapt

We will develop our climate change customer offering, helping customers to acknowledge the potential risks and opportunities climate change presents to their homes and business, and supporting them with appropriate advice and products.

Climate action – Becoming climate positive

At Handelsbanken, we want to lead credibly by example. We have a 2040 net zero goal across our operations, lending and investments, with further plans to introduce nature-based solutions where possible, work with suppliers on their footprint, as well as options for climate-positive funds for our employee pension investments. You can read more about our climate impact below.

Go paperless

While we will always be a local relationship bank, we recognise the demand for increased digital communications and aim to remove paper from our processes and customer communications as much as possible.

Resource thrift

As a bank with many branches across the UK, we all have a responsibility to consume resources sparingly and promote a zero-waste culture across our workplaces. We already make sure none of our IT products go to landfill and we are now looking at other options to contribute to the circular economy.

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Social themes

Diversity and inclusion

With our core value of trust and respect for the individual, we believe everyone must have the same rights, opportunities, and conditions to develop and contribute to the Bank and their own career. We plan to build on our existing D&I work, furthering employee engagement and looking at supporting metrics and targets. Read more about our D&I commitments via link below. 

Good customers outcomes

As a decentralised bank that develops through word of mouth, customers are central to our decision making process. By setting good customer outcomes as a long-term focus for the Bank, we will ensure our customer view only sharpens, for instance through greater use of data analytics and targeted research as well as continuing to encourage feedback to and through our branch network.

Local community action

Being deeply embedded in our local communities is a pillar of our business approach, supported by our strongly decentralised business model. We will drive further positive environmental and social impact at the local level, by ensuring our branch and head office teams have the tools, time and support to increase their community engagement.

Inspire: Employee empowerment

Handelsbanken’s decentralised model is internationally recognised as a successful example of employee empowerment. We will further our work in this area by modelling our leadership externally, and helping build the evidence base for the connection between employee empowerment, customer-centricity and long-term profitability.

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Governance themes

Inspire: Leading with values

In a range of business books and public policy reports, Handelsbanken has been cited as an example of a ‘values-led’, purposeful organisation. We will seek out further opportunities to describe our philosophy and illustrate how this works in practice, in the hope of inspiring other organisations keen to transition to more sustainable business approaches.

Tax responsibility

We recognise the wide-ranging and important role that tax plays in the sustainable development of society. We have long believed that being a responsible taxpayer is central to being a responsible bank and are proud to pay all taxes due in our countries of operation. We will continue to embed responsible tax management, both in our own operations and through our dealings with customers, landlords and suppliers.

Prevent real estate financial crime

Our significant presence in Britain’s commercial and residential property sectors provides us with the opportunity to help prevent financial crime in this area. Already we contribute through due diligence of the customers and transactions we are supporting, and over time we will seek to progress collaborative efforts within the industry.

A safe and sound bank

Over its 150 year history, Handelsbanken has demonstrated that, to be sustainable, a bank must have good control of its risks while maintaining a strong, stable financial position. This remains a driving belief as we continue to build a bank for the long term here in the UK.

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