“HDFC Bank is exploring new opportunities in the environmental and social space”

For a long time now, CSR has been an integral part of corporates to go beyond the usual business and give back to the society. The ultimate purpose of CSR is to maximise shared value among organisations, employees, customers, shareholders, and community members. Today, CEOs are very closely aligned with CSR and ESG activities of their companies.

To observe World Environment Day, HDFC Bank recently announced the launch of four unique films that highlight the bank’s social and environmental initiatives under its flagship programme – Parivartan. Each film focuses on a different cause with which HDFC Bank is associated and shows how the future can be better if we change things today.

In conversation with Adgully, Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer, Head - Corporate Communications, Head - Liability Products and Managed Programs, HDFC Bank, speaks at length about the Bank’s commitment to delivering large-scale positive impact.

Why is ESG so important for a reputed financial brand like HDFC Bank? How do you plan to leverage the same? How will it help in the growth of the bank?

HDFC Bank is India’s largest private sector bank and among the top CSR spenders in the country today. We believe that we need to lead responsibly and use our brand to create a positive social impact. Climate change is possibly one of the biggest threats to humanity and global warming has huge potential to disrupt both lives and livelihood. Therefore, as a socially responsible corporate citizen, we have been taking small but sure steps to mitigate the impact of global warming.

Our commitment to delivering large-scale positive impact prompted us to include sustainability as one of our core values. Today, we factor in environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects while designing our products, processes and policies. Our ESG strategy focuses on climate change, community and society, along with practices related to people, customers, lending, procurement, and governance. We have a Board level committee that sets targets and identifies opportunities for improvement in areas of emissions, energy, water and waste.

Our success as an organisation is defined by the long-term well-being of the people we engage with, the places in which we operate and the planet that we leave behind for our future generations. We believe that these initiatives will be key drivers of growth.

Could you share some key highlights of some of the activities in the ESG space in the last few years that the bank has been doing and how are they shaping up?

HDFC Bank has set a target to become carbon neutral by FY32. As part of this commitment, we have set a goal to plant 2.5 Million trees by FY25 and in fact being passionate the initiative, we’ve covered the half way mark on this. There We also consider ESG parameters when it comes to financing and we do not fund projects that have an adverse impact on environment, health, safety (EHS) levels.

We’re exploring new opportunities in the environmental and social space, including those like Green Bonds. We focus on employee diversity & inclusion, training & development, and employment practices. We invest in communities through our Sustainable Livelihood Initiative, Holistic Rural Development Program, Teach the Teacher Initiative and we provide access to financial services to communities.

All these initiatives and more, come under the umbrella of our flagship program- ‘Parivartan’ and they aim to contribute towards the economic and social development of the country. Through Parivartan, we have impacted 10 crore lives.

What’s the objective of the 4 films? Who are you targeting the same and how did you draw the insights for the films?

HDFC Bank has been working across a host of programmes by way of CSR for over two decades. With this campaign we wanted to highlight several important issues, as well as share the work that has been done by the Bank in some of these areas.

What’s your communication strategy for the films and if you could elaborate the creative thought on the films?

Film is a powerful medium – we wanted to present, through dramatic and compelling visuals, the reality of the bleak future that is imminent if we don’t act more responsibly now. On the positive side, the films share the good outcome of the initiatives undertaken by the Bank that are already contributing to making lives better.

Our campaign, conceptualised by Leo Burnett, shows how the future can be better for us all if we act more responsibly now. Small changes at an individual level are as important as those adopted at a macro level.

The four films, which shed light on the different causes that HDFC Bank is associated with, take a dive into the future. We see the repercussions of our collective actions if we do not think and act more responsibly for a better tomorrow. We are then, transported back to the present where we see how HDFC Bank is working today to enable a better tomorrow.

How do you plan to get the maximum mileage for the films? Any structured media plan is drawn to reach your defined audience?

We have planned for TV+ (TV, Digital, Cinema, OOH – innovative activations) high impact and high frequency media plan for over seven weeks. We are running these on prominent News and Business channels, through both, FCT and Non-FCT elements, including content integrations. Social Media platforms were actively used to share the message with a wider audience.


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