Through the implementation of our Environmental and Social (E&S) commitments and our sectorial policy, we work in favour of responsible finance. The economic and social impact of our activity, the transparency of our financial communication and the fairness of our practices are concerns which strengthen our desire to improve customer satisfaction.
For Societe Generale, being a responsible company lies at the very heart of our business lines’ mission and reflects the essence of the relationship bank of reference that we strive to be. As a key player in financing the economy, our mission is to offer the best solutions to advise and connect individuals, companies and institutions, in order to support them in the development of their projects, the management of their financial means and their risk coverage, sensitive to the different stakeholders within our ecosystem.
Frédéric Oudéa, Chief Executive Officer
Affirming our Environmental and Social (E&S) commitments
Formalized in a Directive signed by the Chief Executive Officer and applicable to all activities, the E&S General Principles constitute a global framework based on the Group’s institutional commitments and its regulatory obligations.
Regarding human rights, the General Principles particularly list the standards and initiatives that Societe Generale has identified as the most significant for the E&S evaluation of its clients: These commitments to human rights in the Group’s sphere of influence are consistent with the signing of a global framework agreement on fundamental rights with the UNI Global Union.
In 2015 the Group reaffirmed its commitment to the fight against climate change by establishing a climate strategy that is consistent with the international objective of limiting global warming to 2 °C.
The application of these principles is incorporated into the existing decision-making processes with regard to both knowing the client (Know Your Customer process-KYC) and transaction assessment, depending on the significance of the E&S risks.
A set of sector and cross-sector E&S policies supplements the E&S General Principles. They specify the standards that the Bank wishes to apply to sensitive sectors as well as to certain cross-sector issues. The E&S policies now cover a dozen sectors in which the Group plays an active role (Dams & Hydropower, Thermal power, Coal-fired power, Defence, Mining, Shipping, Civil Nuclear Power, Oil & Gas, Palm oil, Forestry & Forest products, Fishing & Agri-food) in addition to the cross-sector policy on biodiversity. Download these policies by clicking on each picture here below or at the foot of this page.
Developed by cross-business working groups, the E&S policies are approved by the Executive Committee, signed by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and applied throughout the Group. In a continuous improvement process, sectoral monitoring makes it possible to assess the need to update the existing policies. As an example, in 2015 the policy for the Coal-Fired Power Plants sector was updated in order to clarify the requirements for the thermal efficiency of new power plants that may be the subject of financing or advice provided by the bank.
In order to enable the gradual implementation of these E&S commitments (E&S General Guidelines, sector policies and Equator Principles), the Group established several procedures defining the identification, assessment, and treatment of E&S impacts associated with transactions or clients to whom the Group provided financial services and aims to ensure that all the Group's entities implement the commitments taken in an integrated and coherent way. Compliance with this instruction helps minimize the reputation and credit risks related to Societe Generale’s E&S issues.
The procedures implemented concern on one hand, the E&S evaluation of the dedicated transactions and on the other hand the E&S assessment of clients. Some identification tools, including an E&S watchlist based on the sector policies, civil society alerts and an exclusion list for defence sector companies involved with controversial weapons are part of these procedures.
For more than ten years, the credit risk and reputation management policies and processes have gradually incorporated the assessment of E&S risks. In particular the commitment to factor E&S risks into credit risk was demonstrated by the adoption of the Equator Principles (EP) in 2007. The EP are the reference framework for determining, assessing and managing E&S risks in the projects to which financial institutions provide financing and advisory. They have been adopted by 83 international financial institutions to date.
Since June 2013, in addition to project financing which constitutes a specific financial product, the EP now covers certain loans to companies directly related to a project. This new scope recognizes the spread of E&S due diligence practices to a growing number of financial products. The EP have also enhanced the requirements in relation to Human Rights. In 2015 the EP introduced new reporting obligations in order to improve transparency on transactions financed by members of the association.
47 transactions within the scope of the Equator Principles underwent an E&S review and were signed by the Group in 2015,: 31 project finance transactions, 5 project-related corporate loans, 1 bridge loan and 10 project finance advisory mandates. The amount of new financing in 2015 for these transactions rose to EUR 2.9 billion.
In total, 106 transactions having undergone an E&S review (EP scope and Societe Generale’s voluntary scope of application) were signed in 2015 for an amount of new financing of EUR 6.7 billion.
Go to the Equator Principles Implementation Report (2015 data).
70% of commitments made in the electrical production and distribution sector involve renewable energies.
Economic and Social Impacts of our Activities
Through its network of domestic and international subsidiaries, Societe Generale plays a leading role in the development of the regions and/or countries where it operates. Its subsidiaries or branches actively contribute to the economy in their respective countries, fully assume their social and environmental responsibilities and undertake initiatives to promote progress for the communities and the local economy.
The bank reinforces its image as a socially responsible bank by offering employment, assisting clients in difficulty, supporting the creation and development of businesses and assisting local authorities with their projects.
Loyalty of Practices and financial transparency
By ensuring that it abides by the loyalty and integrity rules set for itself, the Group helps to develop a key asset: the trust of customers, other counterparties, employees and regulatory authorities on which it depends. It has developed tools in this regard and implemented specific actions.
Charter for a responsible representation
In May 2014, Societe Generale wished to follow Transparency International France's collective declaration for the promotion of transparent and honest lobbying, considering principles recommended by Transparency International France. The Group also published a Charter for a responsible representation for public authorities and representative institutions. In accordance with our commitments, the Group's main stances regarding its policy of responsible representation are public.
Digital security and data protection
Within the global context of digital transformation one of the challenges the Group is facing consists of offering customers a digital service that is easy to use, readily available and highly secure. Consequently Societe Generale is continuously investing in order to ensure the security of transactions and the protection of its customers’ data. It is a crucial issue given the escalation of cybercrime. The Group guarantees the security of data and of compliance with banking secrecy.
As part of the transformation of its relationship banking model, Societe Generale's French network has announced that it will invest EUR 1.5 billion in its information system by 2020; 5% of this will be dedicated to security.
Furthermore, the use of customer data meets the defined goal, with the aim of ensuring the expected level of quality and supply.
Preventing over-indebtedness and financial exclusion
In the fight against over indebtedness and support for vulnerable customers, Societe Generale is implementing a proactive approach. Systematic assistance of vulnerable customers is implemented to prevent over-indebtedness.
In 2013, it extended to the whole French network the deployment of amicable settlement platforms, who work with customers in temporary financial difficulty, in order to help them return to a stable situation.
Societe Generale and the CRESUS association (Regional Chamber for Social Over indebtedness) have devised and implemented a budget education programme, which is delivered within the framework of skills sponsorship. Since 2013, the Financial Education project aims to raise awareness among young people about the importance of good budget management. From 2014-2015, 1,935 young people were given advice thanks to the commitment of more than 150 employees.
Protecting the vulnerable
An over-indebted person is vulnerable and should not be granted any further credit. Having said that, access to a bank account and payment methods means they are not totally excluded from society in general. Societe Generale offers a range of alternative means of payment under the trade name "GENERIS".
There is a dedicated system for customers with a serious health risk.
At the same time, the Group offers its customers a range of practical and educational tools: an online budget calculator to assess repayment ability, an online educational section about the various types of loans and how they work, a mobile app to follow and manage their budget, etc.
Assisting those with disabilities
The Bank offers its customers tools and services adapted to their disabilities that allow them simple and practical access to their banking services.
At the end of September 2015, one year before the deadline set by the law of 11 February 2005 for equal rights and opportunities, 2/3 of Societe Generale and Crédit du Nord agencies were declared accessible to those with disabilities.