The sustainability agenda has long been a priority for Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank). Its efforts in this direction are anchored in its mission of humanising financial services. Bursa Malaysia’s largest company by market capitalisation has made it a practice to regularly engage its stakeholders as part of its 20/20 Sustainability Plan to deliver meaningful long-term value.

According to Maybank, the country’s largest bank in terms of asset size, its yearly performance is reported against the plan — a five-year sustainability strategy approved in 2014. The plan aims to generate long-lasting impact and value across three pillars — Community and Citizenship, Our People and Access to Products and Services — and 10 commitments.

While it is nearing the end point in the implementation of the plan, Maybank says, it has made significant inroads in its everyday business.

“We have seen key shifts in the organisation in the last five years with sustainability increasingly seen as part of business as usual. While we are able to show further progress and achievements in 2018, there is still more to be done, especially in driving sustainability as a strategic imperative,” the bank says in its 2018 annual report.

Last year, Maybank made further progress, especially in the areas of environment, social and governance (ESG), human capital and community empowerment, through its foundation. It channelled 1% of net profit or RM72.90 million to community programmes, higher than what was spent previously.

Given its regional presence, the banking group expanded its four flagship programmes — RISE, eMpowering Youths Across Asean, Maybank Women Eco-Weavers and Maybank TLC — across 10 Asean countries.

The RISE (Reach Independence & Sustainable Entrepreneurship) programme, which supports disadvantaged communities by helping them grow their income and become financially independent, entered its last phase to train a total of 6,080 people in Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

“The programme has successfully enabled participants to adopt innovative strategies to realise their business ideas, enhance their business management skills and improve client acquisition and retention. This has led to a quick and sustainable increase in income without having to obtain loans or additional funding,” says Maybank, which has a presence in several Asean countries.

As part of efforts to continue the growth journey, Maybank Foundation Board of Trustees approved the 2019-22 Strategic Plan, themed “Positively impacting community”. The plan will continue to look at expanding existing flagship programmes and elevating community investments, among others.

Internally, learning and skills development continued to be enhanced with RM131 million invested by the banking group.

Maybank says employee participation in training rose 14.5% year on year in 2018 to 41,544 whereas the average training hours per employee was 55.6, up 11.6% y-o-y.

Additionally, more than 18,000 of its employees in Malaysia were upskilled to the foundation level of digital literacy through e-learning, interactive team sessions and assessments.

Diversity and inclusivity in the workplace continued to be enhanced. Last year, Maybank extended the flexibility to parents of newly adopted children when it introduced a parental leave policy for child adoption.

Access to financial services also remained at the heart of the bank’s community service work. Last year, it maintained its support for small and medium enterprises through RM2 billion worth of financing under the Portfolio Guarantee Scheme.

“We have increased access to microcredit facilities for small enterprises that do not always have access to conventional financial services. We disbursed RM40.9 million to micro businesses, benefiting 961 customers,” says Maybank.

With its commitment to develop its people and the community at large, the banking group will surely continue to make an impact for many years to come.