Westpac markets itself ‘green’

Wind turbinesWestpac is about to become the first and biggest company in Australia, that is not an energy company to base it’s whole marketing strategy on its environmental credentials.

The Sydney Morning Herald has coverage of this strategy, suggesting analysts are uncertain yet whether Westpac’s commitment to the environment is real or ‘corporate greenwash’.

“We’re in for a tidal wave of inauthenticity,” said Nigel Marsh, creator of the Earth Hour project and chairman of Leo Burnett. “There will be people who do it genuinely and, like any fad, there will be a whole bunch of pretenders. If Westpac is actually doing it and not just saying it, they should be applauded.”

“This is a step up for the banks,” said Westpac spokesperson Mike Pratt. “You won’t hear Westpac going out and saying we’ve got the best customer satisfaction levels in the market. We have the credentials in our commitment to sustainability and ethical banking. The question is, does sustainability really generate business at the customer level? We believe it does.”

Finsec believes that the real challenges that all banks face, Westpac included, in their efforts to prove their environmental credentials, are twofold.

The first is how they invest their money. It is all very well having environmentally friendly light bulbs and not printing emails in your corporate head office, but if you are investing billions of dollars in to Nigerian oil extraction, uranium mining or third world logging the environment isn’t winning. As a general rule the public does not know enough about whether or how banks make ethical investment decisions.

Secondly banks need to be working with their workers to help reduce the greenhouse emissions that are associated with getting to and from work. Banks have large enough networks of workers that they could be working together to build innovative subsidised public transport networks, cycleways and walkways for their workers. Finsec members think we can help.

(thanks to Fort Photo for the photo)

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