New Westpac NZ launches sustainability training for all employees

Westpac NZ is the first New Zealand bank to make a new sustainability learning programme available to all employees.

Westpac GM Product, Sustainability & Marketing, Sarah Hearn, says helping employees to become more knowledgeable about sustainability means they’ll be able to better support customers.

“Environmental and social issues are increasingly impacting our customers – and they’re looking for our help,” Ms Hearn says.

“Consumers are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint through purchasing decisions or lifestyle choices and businesses are keen to adjust their offering to lower their impact on the environment and meet consumer demand.

“At the same time, many investors are aligning their portfolios to support Aotearoa’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy. Climate risk is increasingly an economic risk for banks and the broader financial industry, as well as many other sectors.”

Westpac piloted the EY Sustainability Academy learning programme last year and Ms Hearn says employee feedback was resoundingly positive.

“Sustainability is such a huge area that it can feel overwhelming. Our people who have taken part in this learning programme have told us that it helped them to link global issues to their own work and personal lives, and to in turn share those insights with customers.”

EY partnered with The Aotearoa Circle – Centre for Sustainable Finance: Toitū Tahua to develop the programme content for New Zealand organisations. The programme is intended to help businesses and communities incorporate sustainability considerations into their day-to-day operations.

Ms Hearn says sustainability is a key focus for Westpac and the new learning programme is a natural extension of work the bank is already doing.

“Sustainability is no longer a side-of-desk interest. Being aware of the impacts of climate change and how our lives and economies are changing as a result is important for everyone, no matter what your role or what industry you work in.

“Our people are passionate about making a difference. In 2022 we doubled our Volunteer Leave offering, meaning everyone in our business now has two days each year that they can use supporting causes in our communities.

“Many of our teams use days to support our annual Chopper Appeal, as well as pitch in to help community groups improve waterways through our partnership with NZ Landcare Trust.

“And of course we’re also focused on helping our customers to meet their sustainability goals through products such as our Sustainable Farm Loan, Sustainable Business Loan and Greater Choices home loan.”

The EY Sustainability Academy learning programme consists of six online modules – topics include Climate Change and Sustainability Fundamentals; Sustainable Business; Sustainable Finance; Climate Change and Decarbonised Economies; Circular Systems; and Food Systems of the Future.

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