Gaia Ghirardi of UniCredit explains how the <IR> process of integrated thinking and Integrated Reporting has contributed to their strategic goals.
The move to Integrated Reporting has enabled us to create greater awareness about our participation in a complex value chain, showcasing how we deploy financial, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and natural capital. These are fundamental to our business model, influence the quality of the products and services that we provide, and have a positive impact on society and the environment as a whole.
In 2015 we continued to move toward sustainable profitability. We are transforming our operations to meet the evolving needs of our customers, deliver high-value products and provide a unique banking experience. In response to persistent economic challenges we have elected to accelerate our transformation by adopting a strategy that explicitly aims to boost sustainable profitability and confirm our role as a leading pan-European commercial bank. We are working to reduce our cost base, streamline our structure and accelerate our digital transformation. This will enable it to be more responsive to external challenges and to allocate resources more effectively.
In pursuing these results, we leverage our different capitals: competent, skilled professionals (Top Employer, Top Professionals, Top CIB Specialist) and diversified workforce – Human Capital. Secondly, effective and safe ICT systems and Innovation capability (from 2016 to 2018 we will invest €2.6 billion in our ICT infrastructure, including about €1.2 billion – 44% – in digital initiative) – Intellectual Capital. Also building long term stakeholder relationships – Social and Relationship Capital.
Our focus on connectivity has enabled us to better illustrate through our strategic business initiatives, how our ability to connect strategy to the use of different capitals produces positive outputs such as our revenues, as well as positive socioeconomic outcomes (in one example we measured our contribution to key Italian business sectors to the national GDP and to the employment rate in Italy).
We consider the Integrated Report an outcome of our integrated thinking approach and for this reason it is also a means of communication to spread the culture of sustainability among colleagues and other stakeholders. Visual aids and infographics with accompanying explanations and further communication tools (such as video) have helped to convey these concepts in a more effective way, as confirmed by initial feedbacks received from our stakeholders.
We expect the report to also help us in the important task of regular, proactive communication with our investors. Our next outreach initiative is a roadshow where buy-side analysts and portfolio managers will meet with investors to discuss our sustainability strategy.
To communicate the extensive work of our intricate organization, we have published sustainability reports since 2007 and evolved to integrated reporting from 2014. Reporting on our sustainability performance has contributed to our Group’s reputation and promoted our inclusion in major sustainability indexes.
With the release of our second Integrated Report we improved our reporting on the outcomes of value creation, which we now categorize as economic, social and environmental values. We also invested in enriching materiality and connectivity of information.
UniCredit is a leading European commercial bank operating in 17 countries, with more than 144,000 employees and an international network that spans 50 markets. We greatly benefit from this international presence, as well as our broad customer base and our strong European identity. This carries a responsibility to consistently improve the quality of information UniCredit provides to its main stakeholders.