IWD Q&A: Barclays’ Denise Wong on DEI and sustainability

On Worldwide Ladies’s Day (IWD), FinanceAsia not too long ago caught up with Denise Wong, co-head of Sustainable Banking Group, Asia Pacific, Barclays.

Wong (pictured) is predicated in Hong Kong and mentioned the financial institution’s efforts round range, fairness and inclusion (DEI), efforts to scale back carbon footprints and the way banks will help their purchasers throughout the Asia Pacific (Apac) area.

FA: Though there are restricted laws relating to DEI in Apac, how nicely prioritised is DEI amongst senior administration at Apac corporates and what sort of initiatives are there to assist promote DEI?

Wong:  At Barclays, our DEI efforts are mirrored within the progress we’ve made throughout our six core range agendas – gender, incapacity, multigenerational, socio-economic, multicultural and LGBT+ and the initiatives inside every of our worker networks. Our perception is that the various backgrounds, views, and experiences of our colleagues permit us to higher serve our clients and purchasers. We’re obsessed with constructing an inclusive office.

Providing ample go away for major and non-primary caregivers, together with for adoption, is a important element of enabling a various, equitable and inclusive tradition. We offer six weeks for non-primary and 22 weeks for major caregivers of full pay in lots of places throughout Apac, which supplies important assist and luxury to caregivers and aids the wellbeing of the whole household. On gender range, we’re taking energetic measures to determine and develop feminine expertise, and enhance illustration throughout senior management roles, our group govt committee and on the board stage.

FA: In Q1 2024, what are a few of the key points on the minds of company and institutional purchasers in Apac relating to lowering their carbon footprints?

Wong: Because the Apac area continues to maneuver from dedication to implementation, the problems associated to decarbonisation are advanced and multi-faceted, and what’s ‘high of thoughts’ varies relying on the place the corporate is of their sustainability journey. They’re additionally formed by different elements together with, however not restricted to, trade and geographic publicity, entry and availability of scalable decarbonisation options, and ongoing regulatory and market developments.

In Apac, there’s additionally a divergent pattern in vitality demand between superior and growing economies that contributes to the complexity of points and the general transition, and every market is at a unique stage of capability and functionality constructing. 

Navigating and addressing provide chain and scope 3 emissions proceed to be high of thoughts, particularly for Apac corporations with publicity to the US and EU the place compliance necessities are growing. We see extra Apac corporations taking multi-disciplinary approaches to interact with their suppliers and clients, conduct audits, set insurance policies, collaborate with friends and trade associations, and spend money on carbon offset initiatives or renewable vitality sources as mitigant methods. Defining and executing the pathways in the direction of a simply and inclusive vitality transition throughout the area will stay a key matter for many years to return.  

Apac can also be extremely uncovered to bodily local weather threat, and excessive climate occasions all through 2023 have actually put local weather adaptation excessive on the checklist of points to deal with.

FA: Are Apac corporations behind the curve when in comparison with European / US friends when IT involves transitioning to a low carbon economic system? Is greenwashing a problem in Apac?

Wong: Whereas the EU regulatory atmosphere is extra superior, IT’s troublesome to generalise solely based mostly on the place an organization is predicated. Many elements are in play, and IT is a combined image throughout industries. For instance, China has been a driver of electrification within the highway transport trade and has been the world’s largest market for electric vehicles for several years, but the transition to wash transportation stays a problem within the freight transport trade.  

Greenwashing is a world difficulty, and Asia is actually not exempt from this. We now have seen extra initiatives by governments and regulatory our bodies to ascertain tips, taxonomies, laws and requirements, trade associations selling them, and corporations themselves growing transparency and accountability to deal with this.    

FA: How can banks in Apac assist corporates obtain their goals?

Wong: The transition to a low-carbon economic system requires collaboration throughout all stakeholders, and banks in Apac have a important position to play. Banks can proceed to take part in coverage and regulatory developments and facilitate capital circulation to assist the decarbonisation efforts of company purchasers. This contains, however shouldn’t be restricted to, the event of inexperienced and sustainable Finance, project-related Finance, carbon markets, and different new market and product innovation and associated advisory providers.   

FA: What particular steps are Barclays taking to assist purchasers in Apac?

Wong: We perceive the complexities round addressing local weather change and are able to assist purchasers to satisfy their sustainability objectives. We’re dedicated to progressing our ambition to be a internet zero financial institution by 2050. We not too long ago up to date our Local weather Change Assertion to focus our capital and sources at these vitality corporations engaged within the transition. Throughout 2023, we facilitated $67.8 billion of sustainable and transition financing and are dedicated to mobilising $1 trillion of sustainable and transition financing by the tip of 2030, which advantages our purchasers in Apac.

Our newly fashioned World Sustainable Banking Group is concentrated on supporting the sustainability wants of APAC purchasers by way of a tailor-made method to protection, advisory and execution throughout M&A, debt, fairness, and threat administration. Additional, by way of membership of trade associations just like the Hong Kong Green Finance Affiliation, we actively assist facilitate the event of sustainable Finance within the area.

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