Corporate responsibility has been at the heart of Hang Seng Bank's operating philosophy since our establishment in 1933. While the terminology may have changed over the years, a strong commitment to achieving business success while contributing to community betterment remains one of our core values.
Our corporate responsibility report (CR Report) details our aspirations and achievements in building a sustainable business that reflects the needs and expectations of our stakeholders.
Hang Seng's reputation as a local leader in promoting sustainability relies on our efforts to continually improve our performance and the credibility of the information we report. In our 2010 CR Report, we became the first local bank in Hong Kong to apply the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines. I am delighted to announce that our 2011 CR Report has achieved a GRI application level of A+ – the highest available rating. This is a concrete reflection of our determination to 'walk the talk' in sustainability best practice.
In September 2011, we were the first local bank to be made a constituent stock of the Dow Jones Sustainability Asia-Pacific Index. We have been a constituent member of the FTSE4Good Global Index for over a decade and of the Hang Seng Corporate Sustainability Index since its launch in 2010.
Other achievements in 2011 include becoming the first local bank to attain ISO 14001 certification, which assesses environmental management systems, for all our offices and branches in Hong Kong. Our efforts to encourage companies in the Pearl River Delta region to improve their environmental performance through the Hang Seng Pearl River Delta Environmental Awards were recognised with the overall Most Creative Campaign Award and a Certificate of Merit in the corporate social responsibility category at the Hong Kong Public Relations Awards organised by the Hong Kong Public Relations Professionals' Association.
Our emphasis on building strong internal and external relationships through service excellence continues to reap rewards. A trusted financial partner to over half of Hong Kong's adult population and the most recommended bank by customers in Hong Kong, our banking services were independently verified as being the highest rated in the local market for the seventh consecutive year.
Our volunteer team expanded its activities, recording around 25,000 hours in community service – an increase of about 30% compared with 2010. Over the past decade, we have allocated more than HK$217m in donations and community sponsorships – including about HK$25m in 2011 – to a wide range of educational, environmental, social welfare, sports development and arts programmes.
I will retire from my position as Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive and from the Board of Directors in May 2012. It has been an honour to lead Hang Seng since 2009 and to be part of a team that champions sustainability and world-class service as key principles for business growth.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish my successor Ms Rose Lee – who is currently a Non-executive Director of Hang Seng – every success in her new position.
Uncertainty in the international economy will continue to create challenges for business in Hong Kong and mainland China in the year ahead. Against this backdrop, corporate credibility will play an increasingly prominent role in maintaining existing business relationships and building new ones. Hang Seng's strong emphasis on sustainable practices that create value for stakeholders will support its long-term growth and success.
Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive