At BMO, we like to say that we’re bankers, but we’re not just bankers. We understand that our bank has an important role to play in convening people around important causes, in acting as a catalyst for meaningful action, and in empowering change that sustains growth and enhances social good. At the same time, we know that being a responsible bank means listening carefully to stakeholders, asking tough questions and looking for answers that achieve the right balance within a range of priorities.
This is the perspective we bring to our 2018 Environmental, Social and Governance Report and Public Accountability Statement. And it’s a worldview that frames all of our decision-making as we put the bank’s strategy into action. Our strategic priorities are complemented by a set of sustainability principles that shape how we conduct business, make key decisions, prudently manage risk and drive long-term growth.
Our bank has always believed in the value of taking the longer view. As we serve our customers today, we’re also helping them save, borrow and invest for the future. And the returns we produce for BMO shareholders are part of a broader effort to drive sustainable economic growth over the long term. Because we know our success as a business depends on our efforts to build stronger, healthier, more prosperous communities that grow and endure.
Taking the longer view also means gaining other perspectives. For instance, in our relationships with employees, customers, business partners and other stakeholders, we are taking seriously our responsibility to respect human rights, consistent with the expectations of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. And in facilitating the transition to a lowercarbon economy, we not only assess social and environmental risk as part of our responsible banking approach; we were one of the first banks globally to publicly support the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure. We spotlight both human rights and climate change in this year’s report. It’s an example of how our reporting evolves in response to emerging issues – as do the steps we take to address them.
Part of our role as a responsible bank is to dig deeper into the pressing issues of our time. One area where we’ve intensified our focus is the challenge of economic disparity. Across BMO’s North American footprint, and particularly in urban centres, inequalities of opportunity continue to impede prosperity. As a vital financial intermediary, we can help to reshape the conditions that give rise to these chronic imbalances. In determining where to place our focus, we consult with stakeholders of every type, including community partners who are seeing the impacts of these inequalities on both a macro and local level. Consultations like these have catalyzed initiatives like our recently announced public and private sector collaboration launched in partnership with United Way Greater Toronto, which we hope will uncover potential models for more inclusive economic development across urban areas on both sides of the border where inequities persist.
As long as the world refuses to stand still, the specific challenges we face will continue to change – and BMO’s approach to sustainability will evolve and adapt in step. What won’t change is our dedication to transparency, accountability, sound governance and the highest standards of ethical conduct.
The impact of BMO’s sustainability commitment can’t be fully captured in a report. It’s the sum of all the concrete actions we take each day to fulfill what society expects of us, and what we expect of ourselves. And it reinforces the bedrock of earned trust that enables us to continue moving forward, helping our customers meet their goals and working alongside all of our stakeholders to strengthen the social and economic well-being of the communities we serve. Thinking for the long term is not just a cornerstone of our business; it’s fundamental to who we are and the values we share with all of our stakeholders.