Our approach to sustainability

Our approach to sustainability

In the context of the current economic crisis, our sustainability agenda will maintain an unwavering focus on addressing the long-term challenges that the world faces as well as taking into account the fundamental task of re-establishing confidence and trust in banks.

We will continue to demonstrate that the way Standard Chartered works has been focused on building a sustainable business and creating long-term value for customers, investors and society as a whole.

Our markets face some of the worst consequences of climate change; many struggle to provide the basic necessities of access to safe drinking water, energy, food and healthcare. Doing business in these countries gives us a unique opportunity to contribute to sustainable development. We are helping to address some of these challenges through our banking activities and our skills and resources to foster economic growth, tackle climate change, poverty and other barriers to social, environmental and economic progress.

This is integral to our business strategy to ensure that we continue to deliver long-term shareholder value. We operate in many of the world’s most dynamic markets and we want to lead by example, being recognised in these countries for building a sustainable business.

“Sustainable lending, access to finance, tackling financial crime, responsible selling and marketing – these are the basics you have to get right. Otherwise you are not going to be able to do the rest.” Peter Mason,
Ethical Performance

Our approach to sustainability focuses both on continuing to manage our core banking practices responsibly and on the seven specific areas which have been at the heart of our sustainability strategy for some years, outlined below.

Sustainability covers an enormous field and we need to choose where best to act. We focus on areas that integrate with our business strategy, based on three criteria:

  • Relevance to our markets
  • Where we can best use our capabilities and infrastructure to maximise our contribution
  • Where we can add distinctive value for our business and the countries we operate in

Sustainability priorities

Sustainability Diagram

Extensive consultation with stakeholders has helped us to identify seven priorities which meet these criteria:

  • Protecting the environment: Reducing our environmental impact and helping others to do the same
  • Sustainable finance: Addressing the environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities involved in doing business with our customers
  • Access to financial services: Making finance more accessible to people excluded from formal banking services
  • Tackling financial crime: Detecting and preventing activities such as fraud and money laundering, corruption and terrorist financing
  • Responsible selling and marketing: Treating customers fairly through the highest levels of service, transparency and responsible banking practices
  • Great place to work: Attracting, developing and retaining the best talent by making our people feel valued, included and engaged
  • Community investment: Using our expertise and resources to help communities develop and economies grow

The above priorities are supported by appropriate business practices and policies. They are also underpinned by:

i) Our human rights policy (PDF) which commits Standard Chartered to uphold the fundamental rights enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in all circumstances. In December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Declaration, we reaffirmed our commitment to human rights by signing the UN Global Compact on Human Rights.

ii) Our Code of Conduct which aims to ensure that we do business in a lawful and ethical way, in line with our core values: Responsive, Trustworthy, Creative, International and Courageous. Every employee is expected to abide by the Code’s standards of integrity and fair dealing towards their colleagues, our customers, regulators, and the communities in which we operate.



  • $3.2bnValue of renewable energy and clean technology projects financed since 2007
  • $385mCredit extended to partner microfinance institutions
  • 2m peopleEyesights restored thanks to Seeing is Believing