Promoting sustainability is a core value at HSBC, aligning our values with what matters most to the next generation of leaders.
- The younger generation of today will feel the biggest impact of climate change.
- Sustainability is a key value for future leaders, guiding how they act as consumers and employees.
- HSBC is taking concrete steps to align with these values with its Business Plan for the Planet programme.
The effects of climate change will be felt by people all over the planet. From a generational perspective however, younger people will suffer the most, as they may well live through potentially irreparable damage to the environment over the coming decades.
“We millennials still have a long life ahead of us, and if we don’t change our ways, life is going to get very difficult, very soon,” said Sonali Bhattacharjee, Business Analyst, Markets and Securities Services at HSBC. She was speaking at Future Leaders Live, a virtual event hosted by HSBC’s Securities Services that focused on issues that matter to next-gen leaders, “Previous generations have failed to slow down climate change. It is now all up to us, and only us. The future is in our hands.”
It should be no surprise that the fate of the planet is a key concern for millennials, which is evident in how they act as consumers and employees. The event demonstrated these ideals in action, with the majority of attendees saying that they would reconsider doing business with a company that does not care about the impact it has on the environment.
A company that wants to truly engage its up-and-coming employees will therefore need to demonstrate that it shares the same values. HSBC for example, has made a clear commitment across the organisation to go net zero by 2030, which Group CEO Noel Quinn describes as “a material step up in our support for customers as we collectively works towards building a thriving low carbon economy.”
HSBC’s Clear Waterways Programme is an innovative initiative that has four solar-powered boats scouring Hong Kong’s harbour to collect and sort floating plastic that pollutes the waters. Not only does this clean up waste, it also protects local biodiversity, which consists of more than 6,000 local marine species1.
The project is an opportunity for HSBC staff to get involved in a meaningful sustainability project alongside other members of the community. “Simple choices and small actions can have a lasting impact,” said Sabrina Duffy, Head of Business Management Hong Kong, Markets and Securities Services at HSBC. “How can an individual make a difference in a goal as large as creating a sustainable future? We can educate ourselves and collaborate with colleagues and customers to ensure that everyone knows what actions that will make a difference. We can for example, examine our carbon footprint and make choices in how we work and live our daily lives that minimise our negative impact on the environment. This could include cycling instead of driving, cutting down on printing documents and reducing meat consumption”.
The role of finance
The financial industry has a special role to play in the creation of a more sustainable future. HSBC’s approach is encapsulated in its Business Plan for the Planet – a strategy to accelerate the transition to a net zero economy through finance, within their own operations and supply chain.
“The foundation for Business Plan for the Planet is that we now live in a world where we think of return on investment not just in financial terms, but also in terms of positive environmental or social outcomes,” said Glenn Kennedy, Head of Trustee and Fiduciary Services, Asia-Pacific, Markets and Securities Services at HSBC. “Speaking as someone who has worked in the industry for some time, that shift in thinking is massive.”
The next step is realising that although many economic activities are contributors to climate change, the sustainability challenges cannot be solved without recognising that business will be part of the solution. In fact, 96 per cent of investors now realise that environmental and social concerns are somewhat or very important2. Businesses however, find it difficult to enact change in isolation, making its financial partner an important enabler.
Mr. Kennedy outlined the three key elements of the Business Plan for the Planet. The goal for Net Zero by 2030 is a fundamental transition that will require financing, as well as reworking HSBC’s own operations and supply chain.
From a client perspective, we are supporting them through their transition, whether they seek or go for zero carbon or partial decarbonisation. Specifically, this means that our financing will be aligned to the Paris Agreement goal to achieve net zero by 2050 or earlier. We aim to provide USD750 million to USD1 trillion worth of financing and investment to support this transition3.
Finally, he highlighted the importance of unlocking climate solutions and innovations, with HSBC setting up a team to support clients with financing and advisory that act as a pathway to net zero.
These are all concrete steps that align HSBC with the evolving values of our customers, as well as the concerns of our employees. They also enable us all to make a contribution to one of the world’s most pressing challenges. With the future of our planet in the balance, the stakes could not be higher. We all need to ask ourselves three simple questions. What am I doing to tackle climate change? Is it enough? And what more can be done?