A message from our CEO.

David McLean.

Tēnā koutou katoa, nei rā te pūrongo, Toitū te whenua, Toitū te tāngata, Toitū te pūtea

We live in a time of unprecedented change which continues to present large challenges for our business and society. Climate change, technological disruption, economic inequality, and changing consumer habits and expectations are just a few. I firmly believe business should be a positive force in society. At a basic level, businesses create jobs and pay tax, without which modern society couldn’t exist. Businesses should also try to solve customer problems and bring resources and a different lens to the challenges we face.

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A healthy environment, society and economy are fundamental to a healthy business.

As a business, we need to provide a return to our shareholders, but we want to be able to do that year after year – not just next quarter or next year. Our view of sustainability is influenced by our 158 years in New Zealand, and our goal of still having a healthy business in 158 years’ time. A healthy environment, society and economy are fundamental to that goal. Those ideas sit at the heart of our sustainability strategy and align with the purpose of Westpac New Zealand - helping our customers financially, to grow a better New Zealand.

The theme of our 2019 Sustainability Report is Toitū te whenua, Toitū te tāngata, Toitū te pūtea (Productive land, Prosperous people, Sustainable wealth). It’s built upon the three pillars of our sustainability strategy:

  • Growing New Zealanders’ financial wellbeing.
  • Taking action on climate change.
  • Caring for our people and communities.

In the past year we’ve taken big strides on these fronts and we’ve also faced some big challenges and continue to learn many lessons along the way.

Our commitment to lifting Kiwis’ financial wellbeing and building stronger communities has seen us become the first New Zealand bank to be Living Wage accredited. Our employees have been delivering free financial capability workshops around the country, with 8,464 New Zealanders attending a workshop in 2019. We came together with the banking industry to collectively donate $1 million to victims’ families following the Christchurch shootings.

Social responsibility continues to drive our decision making. In September we published our Gender Pay Report, which was an open and transparent look at our own gender pay gap, a commitment to reduce our gap, and a call for honest discussions by other corporates. We’ve expanded our Women of Influence programme, celebrating the achievements of Kiwi women. We’ve supported the LGBTQIA+ community through our sponsorship of the inaugural Rainbow Excellence Awards, and in July we became the first New Zealand bank to receive the Accessibility Tick. And of course, we’re into our fourth decade of supporting the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to save lives all over the country.

Housing affordability remains a major challenge for New Zealanders, but in the past year we launched Westpac Prebuilt, the only dedicated lending solution for prefabricated homes. Prefabs are faster and cheaper to build, helping with issues for supply and affordability. We also continue to work with iwi to deliver shared equity schemes in Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

We’ve hit our target to convert 30% of our vehicle fleet to electric and are currently considering what our next target should be. We continue to reduce both our energy and waste footprint and in June we became the first New Zealand bank to issue a green bond, raising $860 million from European investors to support the funding of climate change solutions. We also continue to make progress towards our target to facilitate $2 billion of climate change solutions lending by 2020.

However we recognise that most of these challenges require businesses, government and community organisations to step up and work together. We continue to play an active role as a founding member of the Climate Leaders Coalition and the Aotearoa Circle. Westpac General Manager, Karen Silk, currently co-chairs the Circle’s Sustainable Finance Forum and also chairs the Advisory Board of the Sustainable Business Council.

We’re grateful to our Sustainability Advisory Panel for their guidance, oversight, challenge and scrutiny and we’re also keen to learn from you, the public. I look forward to your feedback on how we can serve New Zealand better.

Our highlights reflect our continual support for toitū te whenua – ensuring productive land through tackling climate change; toitū te tāngata – helping our people, our customers and our communities to grow financially; and toitū te putea – creating sustainable wealth.

Noho ora mai

David McLean

Chief Executive Officer, Westpac New Zealand