Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


iPod lure reels in readers

November 2008

A global bank is testing some novel ways to increase readership of its annual sustainability review, including a prize draw for staff to win iPod players.

Standard Chartered, with 75,000 employees worldwide,  invited its staff to answer seven questions about the content of the review, with those giving the right answers entered into a draw to win one of five iPods.

The bank says the response exceeded expectations by attracting correct entries from 3500 employees. An unspecified number of others did not get all the answers right.

Standard Chartered believes the approach led employees to read large parts of the review and has sparked interest at all levels of the company. Questions covered a variety of subject areas to encourage readers to look at topics they might not normally consider and were designed to make it difficult for anyone skimming the document to retrieve ‘clues’.

All employees were sent an email inviting them to enter the competition and read the review, which was posted in html format on the company’s intranet. All bank branches also received a printed copy of the report, which was translated this year for the first time into Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean. Staff in ‘up-country’ offices  with limited online access were sent the questions on paper. The competition was held over a period of ten days.
‘An amazing number of people participated, more than we expected’, said Marianne Mwaniki, Standard Chartered’s senior sustainability manager.
‘It created a bit of excitement and there’s certainly a greater level of awareness among employees as a result. Since the competition we’ve had more than the usual number of inquiries from staff, plus anecdotal evidence of employees referring to the review when talking to clients.’

Mwaniki said Standard Chartered had been keen to engage employees more widely on the contents of the review. She told EP: ‘We knew there was a problem because before when we did presentations to staff very few people appeared to have read it.’

The bank will almost certainly repeat the exercise next year, but in a different form.

An attempt has also been made to persuade more customers to read the review by drawing it to the attention of users of online bank accounts. When logging out of their account, customers are shown a snippet about the bank’s social and environmental performance and are invited to click through to the sustainability area. In the first month traffic increased by 20 per cent.

Mwaniki said: ‘When people are intent on doing a transaction they tend not to be distracted by anything else on the website, but our thought was that once they’ve completed what they’re doing and have logged out, then they might be more inclined to spend a few minutes doing something else.’
In addition, the bank has a Facebook-style social networking site on its intranet where employees can form ‘action groups’ to make social and environmental changes within the company.

Since the site was created in April, more than 1500 action groups have been formed. Employees share tips, pledges and data on activities such as recycling and volunteering.

Standard Chartered | Global | Nonfinancial reports

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