Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability have been at the forefront of most companies’ agendas for quite some time- it is no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” The fact that millennial have a high level of social awareness and they are entering into the formal job market, gives most corporations solid reason to be “purpose-driven”. Giant corporations like Google, Microsoft are deemed as the world’s most reputable companies for CSR activities. Having said that, Financial Institutions are coming in the front row in the realm of CSR and sustainability.
In Bangladesh, the banking sector is embracing a bunch of initiatives to address social/environmental issues. IDLC CSR Guideline confers to International Standards and has maintained signatory membership status with both United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEPFI) since 2011. In the past few years, commercial banks of Bangladesh have witnessed a splendid CSR expenditure in areas of education, health and disaster management. The CSR outlay took a leap in 2018 to BDT 904.7 crore from BDT 743.9 crore in 2017, triggering 21% y-o-y growth. In order to raise the banking sector’s spirit to be engaged in sustainable CSR initiatives, Bangladesh Bank determined some areas of tax exemption related to CSR for Financial Institutions. When that is a good start to make the financial sector more people and community-oriented, it has to be kept in mind that whether these initiatives are bringing infrastructural development for the long term benefit rather than being just a one-off initiative.