2.3 Responsible business conduct towards the local environment

Relevance of the topic to SZKB and goals

As a bank rooted in the region, SZKB has a wide range of interactions with its local environment. There is potential for both positive and negative impacts.

If these interactions were to cease, the following negative effects are conceivable:

  • Events and community gatherings could no longer take place (due to financial constraints)
  • Loss of cultural traditions
  • Reduction in material wealth and decline in association activities
  • Deterioration of the Swiss militia system

Positive effects of the interactions can include:

  • Vibrant community life
  • Empowerment of underprivileged community groups to participate in sporting events
  • Bolstering of the willingness of the community to engage in voluntary work
  • Positive impact on nature and the environment

In accordance with the Schwyzer Kantonalbank Act Section 3 Purpose 2, SZKB must contribute to balanced and sustainable development of the Canton of Schwyz, taking the needs of the general public, the economy and the public sector into account in particular. SZKB attaches great importance to sponsorship and local involvement in relation to culture/customs, sports, society/social affairs, nature, tourism and the regional economy.

In its brand promise, its values and its conduct, SZKB emphasises that it is a generational bank. SZKB thinks in terms of generations – and this has been true for generations. This is why SZKB is dedicated to serving its clients and the community of the Canton of Schwyz. SZKB’s relationships with the people, companies, associations and institutions of the Canton of Schwyz are deeply rooted and continue to grow. The ownership of SZKB by the canton, which means it is 100% owned by the people of Schwyz, also plays a role in this.

Key topics from SZKB’s sustainability strategy in the area of responsible corporate behaviour towards the local environment are «Generations and local commitment» and «Fostering the local community and economy». SZKB has the following objectives in this regard:

  • Local commitment (sponsorship) of at least CHF 0.8 million per year.
  • Increase the number of financial literacy events hosted.

Management approach

The Segment/Sales Management, Marketing & Communication department is tasked with evaluating and approving sponsorship requests. This department reports directly to the Head of DP. SZKB prioritises supporting a wide range of projects and events that are attended by the general public and align with its corporate philosophy as a generational bank, rather than focusing solely on individual large projects. The Marketing & Communication team is authorised to make commitments of up to CHF 2,000. The Head of DP is responsible for sponsorship commitments ranging from CHF 2,000 to CHF 10,000. The Sales Commission is tasked with making decisions regarding commitments exceeding CHF 10,000.

For the purpose of pooling common interests, SZKB is involved in various organisations (see Chapter «2.3.2 ‘Generations and local commitment’, Section Memberships»). The Bank is convinced that this will enable synergies to be exploited. SZKB’s involvement and membership in these organisations are aimed not at exerting influence but rather at expanding its network, enhancing its knowledge and expertise beyond the banking sector and establishing a presence in key institutions. The Executive Board decides whether to enter into memberships and partnerships.

Another important area of focus for SZKB is the comprehensive promotion of basic financial knowledge (financial literacy) within the Canton of Schwyz community. SZKB wants to help increase the financial literacy of the people of Schwyz and promote awareness of saving, financing, investing and retirement planning in order to ensure the expansion and security of prosperity for future generations. There are plans to gradually increase the number of free and publicly accessible events throughout the canton in the coming years.

Key measures:

  • Sponsorship
  • Memberships
  • Commitment to the start-up programme *zünder
  • Fostering innovative and young enterprises
  • Schwyz Mentoring Programme
  • Future Day
  • Volunteering
  • Change of perspective
  • Financial literacy

Sponsorship

SZKB has always had close ties with the Canton of Schwyz. As a sign of its proximity to the local community, the Bank focuses on broad support of local projects and events that are embedded in the region and that generate added value. Sponsorships are awarded and contributions are made in the areas of culture/customs, society, economy, tourism, sport and nature.

SZKB provides smaller sponsorships (up to CHF 2,000) in cash or in kind (such as in the form of promotional material) in a broad-based and straightforward manner. SZKB ensures that events and their organisers receiving sponsorship payments over CHF 2,000 uphold values such as fairness and social and environmental responsibility. For commitments in excess of CHF 10,000, this obligation must also be clearly outlined in appropriate agreements and documented for SZKB.



 

SZKB has specific criteria for exclusion when it comes to sponsorship and does not make any contributions in the following cases:

  • Events and projects outside the Canton of Schwyz
  • National and international projects and events
  • Projects/events managed exclusively for commercial purposes
  • Political and religious events
  • Support for individuals (such as athletes and artists)
  • Extreme sports or dangerous events
  • Projects/events from the automotive or motorbike sport sectors
  • Private events
  • Book projects, work catalogues, commemorative publications
  • Construction projects, renovations, refurbishments
  • Image and sound storage media

Because of its significant presence in the Canton of Schwyz and its close proximity to clients, SZKB frequently receives requests for sponsorship and support contributions. In 2023, it processed 757 applications for sponsorship and contribution applications and awarded a total of CHF 0.9 million. All of these commitments are spread across the entire cantonal territory for the benefit of local associations and institutions.

On its website SZKB.ch and through multiple communication channels, SZKB proactively communicates a selection of its major sponsorship commitments in sports, culture, society, social affairs, nature, environment and sustainability. The Bank communicates transparent information about the sponsorship conditions, provides access to application forms and identifies a contact person.

Memberships

SZKB and employees of SZKB, in their professional roles, are members of the following organisations in particular:

  • ACI Suisse
  • AMAS
  • ESISUISSE
  • Finnova-Kantonalbanken (Finnova Cantonal Banks)
  • Gewerbe plus Feusisberg-Schindellegi (Trade plus Feusisberg-Schindellegi)
  • Gewerbeverein Brunnen-Ingenbohl (Brunnen-Ingenbohl Trade Association)
  • Gewerbeverein Muotathal (Muotathal Trade Association)
  • Gewerbeverein Schwyz (Schwyz Trade Association)
  • Gewerbeverein Unteriberg (Unteriberg Trade Association)
  • Handwerker- und Gewerbeverein HGVF (Crafts and Trade Association HGVF)
  • Handwerker- und Gewerbeverein Lachen/Altendorf (Craftsmen’s and Tradesmen’s Association Lachen/Altendorf)
  • Health Tech Cluster Switzerland
  • H+I Der Schwyzer Wirtschaftsverband (H+I The Schwyz Business Association)
  • Industrie- und Handelskammer Zentralschweiz IHZ (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Central Switzerland)
  • JCI Junior Chamber International Ausserschwyz
  • KMU Frauen Schwyz (SME Women Schwyz)
  • Lions Club Schwyz
  • Schweizerische Bankiervereinigung SBVg (Swiss Bankers Association)
  • Schweizerische Management Gesellschaft (Swiss Management Society)
  • Schwyz Next
  • SIV Schweizer Immobilienschätzer-Verband (SIV Swiss Association of Real Estate Valuers)
  • Swiss GAAP FER
  • Swiss Sustainable Finance
  • Verband Schweizerischer Kantonalbanken (Association of Swiss Cantonal Banks)
  • Verein Institut für Finanzdienstleistungen Zug (Association Institute for Financial Services Zug)
  • Verein Netzwerk Arbeit Kanton Schwyz (Association Network Work Canton Schwyz)
  • Verein Successio (Successio Association)
  • VUD (Verein Unternehmens-Datenschutz/Association for Corporate Data Protection)
  • Zentralschweizer Public Relations Gesellschaft (Public Relations Society of Central Switzerland)

Commitment to the start-up programme *zünder

*zünder is the independent and proactive orchestrator of the start-up community of Central Switzerland. This non-profit organisation is a programme managed by ITZ InnovationsTransfer Zentralschweiz and is funded by all the cantons of Central Switzerland as part of the New Regional Policy.

Together with the cantonal banks of the Cantons of Lucerne, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Uri and Zug, SZKB is the primary sponsor of the *zünder start-up programme. In this way, it supports (young) entrepreneurship in the region.

Fostering innovative and young enterprises

The SZKB Innovation Foundation exists in the Canton of Schwyz with the aim of supporting innovative and young enterprises. It is a well-established and thriving venture capital investor that funds emerging technology companies. As a lead investor, the Innovation Foundation provides seed financing starting at CHF 0.2 million. SZKB made its endowment capital of CHF 20 million available in 2006. The Innovation Foundation is managed by an entrepreneurial Board of Trustees and is financially, legally and strategically independent of SZKB in its operations.

Schwyz Mentoring Programme

SZKB supports the Schwyz Mentoring Programme. The Schwyz Mentoring Programme is based on a partnership that came into being in the spring of 2022 between the SZKB, the Women’s Network of the Canton of Schwyz, SME Women Schwyz, the Schwyz Next business platform, the Schwyz Business Association H+I, the Schwyz Hospital and the Schwyz University of Teacher Education. The objective of the programme is to assist young women who are getting started in their careers through mentors from various industries who offer their skills, knowledge and resources in order to:

  • Encourage career planning
  • Draw attention to the benefits of networking
  • Accompany them as they reflect on reconciling work and family
  • Raise awareness of occupational pension issues

Future Day

SZKB has been participating in the national Future Day with a special offer since 2019. In addition to the established national Future Day for children of employees organised in 2023, SZKB held the additional special programme «A Day As a Bank Manager» for the second time. This special programme was intended to serve 5th-, 6th- and 7th-grade girls without a caregiver at SZKB who want to gain insight into what the everyday working life of a female executive at SZKB is like. 32 boys and girls participated in national Future Day, and 28 girls took part in the special programme «A Day As a Bank Manager».

Voluntary engagement

Numerous SZKB employees are privately involved in various associations and political functions outside the Bank. All secondary employment (also including work outside associations and non-political functions) must be approved by a member of the Executive Board. In 2023, 274 employees were authorised to engage in secondary employment, compared to 256 employees in 2022.

Change of Perspective

In a programme designated «Change of Perspective», SZKB provides all employees with a day off from work to engage in charitable activities. The last Change of Perspective event took place in 2022 as part of a two-year cycle, and is planned again for 2024. In future, Change of Perspective will take place on an annual basis.

Financial literacy

SZKB has long offered numerous public events in the canton on all aspects of preparing for retirement financially, sometimes in cooperation with local partners (including the Frauenfachschule Schwyz/Schwyz Women’s Technical College and Pro Senectute) In 2024, SZKB will be hosting a series of free events aimed at the Canton of Schwyz community. The series of events will kick off in the autumn of 2024 with activities focused on the theme of «Prevention». The goal is to progressively broaden this series of events and provide assistance to various community groups with their financial questions.

At CHF 0.9 million, SZKB’s sponsorship commitment exceeded the target value of CHF 0.8 million. There was also a backlog of social activities in 2023 (after the coronavirus crisis), which was reflected in a higher number of applications and a higher total sponsorship contribution by SZKB.

No statement can yet be made regarding the number of financial literacy events, as these are not planned until 2024.

Overall, SZKB considers the measures taken with regard to the local environment to be effective.

Further development and next steps

In 2024, SZKB will assess its interest in joining other organisations that contribute to a more sustainable world.

The series of events aimed at enhancing the financial literacy of the people of Schwyz will be launched with pilot events in autumn 2024.

With the restructuring of the Change of Perspective event, which will take place annually from 2024, SZKB will invest up to 600 person-days per year in selected charitable projects. SZKB hopes that this focus will also bring about a noticeable impact.