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Via Bona laureate: A big company always has big responsibility

Slovenská Sporiteľňa believes that the prosperity and the future of the country are in our hands.

Badminton played on Charity Day.(Source: Slovenská Sporiteľňa)

Category: Main Award for a Responsible Large Corporation

“As we use to say, every Slovak village has a post office, church, and a Slovenská Sporiteľňa branch,” says Barbara Henterová, head of the bank’s events and sponsoring department, with a smile.

Slovenská Sporiteľňa is the biggest commercial bank in the country. It has a full foreign exchange licence and permission to offer mortgages to its clients. At the same time, it has the biggest share in the market with deposits, the biggest network of branches and a dominant position in the issuing of payment cards.

The bank believes that a company with such importance and size needs to act responsibly, not only towards its clients, but also its employees, business partners, competition, communities, and regions.

“We realise that the prosperity and the future of Slovakia is in our hands,” said Peter Krutil, chair of the board of directors and CEO of Slovenská Sporiteľňa.

The bank’s responsible business strategy is based on its effort to contribute to a better life, prosperity and the development of civil society in Slovakia. This is the reason why they are helping people improve their lives, either by their activities in “core business” or welfare activities.

“We think that to be a responsible member of the community means to feel responsibility for the society we are living in,” Henterová explained, adding they always take this into consideration.

Focus on social banking

One of the activities to achieve this goal is social banking.

“The basis is to provide banking services, financial education and counselling to target groups not targeted by any other bank in Slovakia, like starting entrepreneurs, non-profit organisations and low-income groups,” Henterová explained.

The bank is contributing to solutions to problems like poverty, weak financial literacy or limits for starting small entrepreneurs to finance their activities via a bank loan. Its idea is that social banking activities should be economically sustainable and feasible, both without losses and profits. At the same time, they want to affect thousands of people in Slovakia.

As for the support to starting entrepreneurs, Slovenská Sporiteľňa is mostly offering them education, part of which is the scrutiny of the risks and their financial and business plan. Moreover, it offers them banking services, like financing, which is hard to acquire in other Slovak banks, as well as mentoring.

“Statistics prove that if somebody is working with starting entrepreneurs, the chances of their business surviving are almost three times higher,” Henterová explained.

Moreover, the bank provides non-profit organisations with education, banking services, including financing, and mentoring.

“We have seen many non-profit organisations that have fully or partially transformed into sustainable social companies,” Henterová said, adding they help their clients survive the time between receiving payments from state or grants and invest into the long-term sustainability of their activities.

Another target group are people who found themselves in a difficult situation while paying off their loans. In addition, the bank offers financial education.

Employees are important, too

Another idea pursued by Slovenská Sporiteľňa is that responsible companies need to create an employee-friendly environment. One way to achieve this is favourable working environment and benefits.

Henterová says their employees are very satisfied with the benefits offered. People mostly appreciate managerial skills training, badminton after work and the opportunity to “reset” their minds.

The system of benefits has recently changed. The bank is trying to reward their employees with, for example, an above-standard medical check, a day of volunteering that usually takes place during working hours, allowing people to help their communities, as well as massages, development lectures, workshops and various discounted offers.

A group of benefits is offered via HydePark, a special area created at two of the bank’s headquarters: in Bratislava and Banská Bystrica. It usually offers discussions with various interesting guests as well as workshops on both serious and less serious topics. Employees can discuss homelessness, ethics in society, a healthy lifestyle or make their own chocolate pralines.

“We organise about 50 such events every year,” Henterová said.

The events are also open to employees who can propose their own activities or lectures. For example, some of them have conducted their own yoga or karate classes. Similar events are held in regions under the name Wandering HydePark. Usually there is a different topic in a different region.

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