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Corporate Social Responsibility within Community Banking

Tracy SimsPosted At: October 4, 2012 3:20 P.M.
by Christina Steward


When you think of corporate social responsibility among banks, you may think of large multi-billion-dollar institutions giving millions of dollars to national charities. However, local banks play an important part in CSR, too.

According to an article from Forbes, the essence of CSR is “reducing environmental impact, increasing employee engagement, ethical sourcing and improving community investment.”

This corporate social responsibility definition and the banking industry do not always correlate. The primary goal for a financial institution is to gain shareholders’ trust, which means bringing in a profit. With a sluggish economy, this can be harder than it seems. However, supporting a local bank that practices social responsibility is important for the community and the economy.

“Community investing and socially responsible banks and credit unions provide the best opportunity for consumers to avoid supporting negative practices,” Fran Teplitz, Green America’s director of social investing programs, said in an article by Joelle Novey and Tracy Fernandez Rysavy.

In order to encourage banks to practice socially responsible techniques, American Bankers Association honors 10 banks across the nation each year with the ABA Community Bank Award.

Bryant Bank of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was the recipient of the 2012 ABA Community Bank Award for “Revitalizing Your Community.” Bryant bankers pulled together after the devastating April 2011 tornadoes to help their communities through many different volunteer efforts.

“We were out at daylight the next day trying to make roads passable, collecting and giving out supplies, and cleaning up debris. We continued through the weeks that came,” said Claude Edwards, CEO of Bryant Bank.

Although local banks are important to CSR, they are not much different from any other bank or company that practice social responsibility, said Jim Fleming, CEO of First National Bank of Central Alabama.

“Local banks tend to support local charities, because it is a way to make an impact on its community and support smaller initiatives that can be easily forgotten,” said Edwards.

The importance of CSR is to support your community, and who is better to do that than your bank down the street?

“We are all citizens of the community and we must be mindful of the opportunities to give and help others,” said Edwards.

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