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Key ESG topics for our stakeholders

Being purpose-led means we strive to create value by balancing the different needs of our stakeholders. And as the leading bank in the UK for business customers, and one of the largest for retail customers, we know the impacts of our business are wide-ranging.

In 2021, our ESG materiality assessment involved a programme of stakeholder engagement to deepen our understanding of the ESG issues that matter most to them. The findings guide our reporting and decision making, ensuring we remain focused on the right issues.

While we have identified climate, enterprise and learning as the three focus areas of our purpose where we can make a meaningful contribution, our 2021 assessment confirmed that broader ESG topics and those related to our core business responsibilities, as illustrated opposite, are also important for many of our stakeholders.

As a responsible business, some topics like financial crime, operational resilience, and responsible governance – as well as diversity, equity and inclusion – are topics we already focus on and will continue to strengthen further. On the other hand, topics such as biodiversity and human rights are less progressed and will require further work in 2022 and beyond.

In delivering our purpose-led strategy, we expect the measures we report on to adapt and expand over time as we seek to improve our understanding of our environmental and social impact – as well as our stakeholders’ changing expectations on how we address these topics.

Identifying the key ESG topics for our stakeholders

Our ESG materiality assessment in 2021 was supported by a third-party expert and involved three steps:

  1. Refinement of key ESG topics - This involved desk research and internal consultation, including a senior management working group and wider employee engagement, to challenge and evolve our list of ESG topics. Our review was further informed by societal megatrends, the UN SDG’s and our top and emerging risks.
  2. Stakeholder engagement - We carried out qualitative interviews with representatives across all our stakeholder groups (customers, colleagues, communities, investors, regulators and suppliers). We also conducted a quantitative survey with over 2,500 respondents to explore the relative importance of the various ESG topics. This included specialist samples of SMEs and opinion formers, as well as a sample of UK consumers and NatWest Group customers.
  3. Strategic analysis - We conducted analysis of both the qualitative and quantitative findings, and the inter-relations between them, giving us an understanding of the ESG topics and their importance to our stakeholders.