Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Questions

At CWB Financial Group, we believe our success depends on the responsible creation of value for all of our stakeholders, so we made it easier for you to find out about our corporate social responsibility activities. The following suite of most recent reports contains our ESG information, and we have added common ESG questions and answers to help you find the information relevant to you.

On This Page:

General Social Environment Governance

General

What is CWB's official name and where is your headquarters located?
Canadian Western Bank Financial Group and our head office is located at 10303 Jasper Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T5J 3X6.
What markets do we serve, and what products and services do we offer?

1) FULL-SERVICE BUSINESS BANKING

We offer our business owner clients access to a full suite of financing and cash management solutions through in-person and digital channels. Business owners can streamline their financial management to focus on what matters most: growing their business. Our continuing investment in digital capabilities will enhance their experience even further

2) FULL-SERVICE PERSONAL BANKING

We offer our personal clients, who are often our business owner clients and their families, access to a full complement of banking services through in-person and digital channels. We just launched digital client onboarding for our personal clients.

3) SPECIALIZED FINANCING 

We offer our clients access to a differentiated, proactive client experience through highly personalized service, specialized expertise within specific industries, customized solutions and faster response times.

4) WEALTH MANAGEMENT

We offer our clients access to comprehensive wealth management approaches for their personal and business wealth. Discretionary wealth management, comprehensive financial planning and investment solutions are available through our boutique approach delivered within CWB Wealth Management and CWB branches.

3) TRUST SERVICES

We offer a wide variety of comprehensive trustee and custodial solutions for individuals and businesses.

See the “Enhanced Capabilities Provide Strong Platform for Growth” section in our Annual Report.

Where do we operate?
We operate in all 10 Canadian provinces.
What is the legal ownership form of CWB?
Canadian Western Bank (CWB) is a publicly traded, federally regulated Canadian bank. CWB is a diversified financial services organization serving businesses and individuals across Canada.
What are our annual revenues, total assets, and overall organization size?
See the “Five Year Financial Summary” in our Annual Report.
How many full-time employees do we have?
At October 31, 2020, we had 2,505 full-time equivalent employees.
What is our principle approach to risk management, overall and specifically with reference to ESG issues
We provide detailed information about our risk management framework and approach within the “Risk Management” section in our Annual Report. Within this section you will find our approach to ESG related risks, including credit-related environmental risk as well as environmental and social risk.
Is there a message from the CEO on ESG issues?
Chris Fowler speaks to ESG issues in his letters contained in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report and in our Annual Report.
What are our core values?

Our success is built from a strong foundation of our core values:

People First - Caring people are the key to our success. We work as a team and support one another. We always treat each other with respect and have the courage to be candid.

Relationships Get Results - Clients choose CWB for the best experience. We build relationships proactively, with intention and consistency. Our results depend on it.

Embrace the New - Change is everywhere. We seek out new ideas and are committed to continuous learning. We know that better is always possible.

The How Matters - How we do things is as important as what we do. We take ownership, and move with urgency and efficiency. We always act with integrity, and balance risk and reward.

Inclusion Has Power - Diverse teams unleash new ideas and perspectives. We are aware of our own biases. We are proud of who we are, and we are allies for those around us.

How do our team members report ethical violations or concerns regarding potentially illegal activity?
The CWB Financial Group Ethics Hotline is a channel for all CWB Financial Group Employees and contractors to anonymously ask questions and report concerns about illegal, fraudulent, or corrupt activity. The hotline is managed by a third party and available 24/7 at 1-844-254-3068 with all calls investigated and reported to our Board of Directors.
What entities were included in the consolidated financial statements?
The consolidated financial statements include the assets, liabilities, and results of operations of CWB and all of its subsidiaries, after the elimination of intercompany transactions and balances. Subsidiaries are defined as entities whose operations are controlled by CWB and are corporations in which CWB is the beneficial owner. See “Basis of Consolidation” and "Subsidiaries" in the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements in our Annual Report.
Have there been any major changes in the reporting period?
See our “Changes in Accounting Policies and Financial Statement Presentation” section, as well as the "Financial Highlights" and "Non-Financial Highlights" sections in our Annual Report.
What is our reporting period and cycle?
We report quarterly and annually. Our fiscal year runs November 1 – October 31.
Have further questions on our annual report or Corporate Social Responsibility Report
What is our commitment and approach to privacy?

Earning and maintaining trust is at the core of providing financial services. At CWB Financial Group, we understand this requires that we respect your privacy and protect the personal information you place in our care. Our Privacy Statement outlines the privacy management practices we have adopted to safeguard your personal information and to comply with Canadian privacy law. It is also our public statement describing how we collect, use and disclose personal information, and the choices you may exercise in this regard.

If you have any questions or concerns about this Privacy Statement, our privacy practices, or if you would like to review your personal information, please contact your CWB Financial Group branch or office. Alternatively, you may write to CWB Financial Group’s Chief Privacy Officer at:

Chief Privacy Officer
CWB Financial Group
3000-10303 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta
T5J 3X6

[email protected]

Social

What is our approach to community investment?
We take pride in actively participating in the growth, development, and sustainability of the communities where we operate. For us, this means helping our charitable and not-for-profit partners through volunteerism and financial support. See our Community Investment webpage and the “Our Communities” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.
How do we set our community investment priorities and decide which specific initiatives to donate to and become involved in?
We set our priorities by aligning community investment programs with our business goals and strategies, and designing them to ensure contributions have the greatest impact possible. We are focused on helping local charitable and community organizations fulfill their respective mandates in the areas of: enabling business and promoting inclusivity. See our Community Investment webpage and the “Our Communities” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.
How do we directly and indirectly contribute economic value to the community?
We contribute to the economic prosperity and wellness within our communities. Through our strategic direction and our commitment to corporate social responsibility, we will continue to transform ourselves into the bank of the future – for our clients, our people and our communities.

We make a positive impact on the economy by delivering shareholder returns, creating good jobs, paying taxes, helping savers, and providing credit to small and medium businesses and households. We also generate economic value in the community by donating to and supporting charities. See our Community giving webpage for detailed information on our community giving activities. See our Annual Report for information on our performance metrics, including salaries and benefits paid, community investment and income taxes paid. Our Public Accountability Statement contains additional information including income and capital taxes paid by jurisdiction/province and our breakdown of total Canadian business financing.
Which charities and community programs are we involved with?
We are committed to investing in the community through our giving priorities of enabling business and promoting inclusivity. See the Community Giving webpage or “Our Communities” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for information on the charities and community initiatives that we are involved with.
Do we provide services to those who might be economically disadvantaged?
We have a Community Banking Program granting charities low fee banking options, and flexible, low-cost accounts for those with basic banking needs including waiving account fees for students under 18 or pursuing post-secondary, and for seniors access to our no-fee Gold-Leaf-Plus account for ages 57+. See the “Making Every Relationship Accessible” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.
How do we continuously improve access to financial services?

We are committed to treating all people, including our clients, employees and applicants, in a way that allows them to maintain their independence and dignity. Believing that inclusion has power, we strive to create an accessible environment for all, including people with disabilities. See our Multi-Year Accessibility Plan on our Accessibility webpage for more information.

We also offer accessible products at low-cost and accessible services through online banking. For more information on these products see the “Access to financial services” section in our Public Accountability Statement and “Making Every Relationship Accessible” in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Do we have financial literacy programs?

We believe we have a responsibility to support the financial health of our clients, our team members and our communities. To support vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic, CWB has supported a number of employability, professional development and financial literacy programs, such as:

  • Bissell Centre’s Financial Empowerment Program in Edmonton
  • The Dollars and Sense Program through the Launch Community Development Foundation in Kelowna
  • Wellspring’s Return to Work Workshops through the Alberta Cancer Foundation in Southern Alberta
  • Read Saskatoon’s Financial Literacy Program
  • The Calgary John Howard Society’s Learning Employment Enhancement Program
What loan programs do we have for small businesses?
We are the only full-service bank with a strategic focus to meet the unique financial needs of business owners in Canada. Our proven business model is focused to create value for the business owners. In 2020, we had outstanding loans to small businesses totaling over $3 billion dollars. See Tables 10 and 11 in our Annual Report and the “Breakdown of Total Canadian Business Financing” section in our Public Accountability Statement for a provincial breakdown of our financing to Canadian businesses.
Do we support infrastructure services through loans?
We support infrastructure development through lending to relevant industries. In 2020, 19% of our lending went to the construction industry, supporting infrastructure development. See Table 11 in our Annual Report for our total advances by industry.
How do we strategically approach customer service and customer satisfaction?
At CWB Financial Group we take a relationship-based approach to meet the unique financial needs of small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. We set ourselves apart through proactive client experiences: our people know our clients and their industries, we ask the right questions, and work to find the right financial solutions. Our core strength in full-service business and personal banking is complemented by targeted capabilities in deeply knowledgeable and highly-responsive business lines offering specialized financing, wealth management and trust services . For more information, see the “Enhanced Capabilities Provide Strong Platform for Growth” section in our Annual Report.
How do we evaluate customer satisfaction?
We regularly conduct client research: voice of client surveys, focus groups, and ongoing market research. Topics for client feedback include: client engagement, client satisfaction with branch relationship, product, and channels; product feedback, feelings about business climate and environment, business challenges, and confidence in banking products.
How do we resolve customer concerns and complaints?
We are committed to taking our customers' complaints seriously, handling them appropriately, and providing a high standard of customer service. We have outlined a process for customers to escalate their concerns with us on our “Resolving Your Concerns” webpage. We also outline unacceptable sales practices in our Code of Conduct.
How do we assess client needs regarding financial products and services?
We set ourselves apart through proactive client experiences: our people know our clients and their industries, we ask the right questions, and work to find the right financial solutions.  See the “Enhanced Capabilities Provide Strong Platform for Growth” section in our Annual Report.
What is CWB's approach to product and service responsibility and sales?
Our clients and employees provide us insight on how we are doing and what we can do better. Ongoing dialogue with these groups allows us to gain feedback on our strategy and priorities. More information on our approach can be found on our codes and commitments web page and in our Code of Conduct.
How do we specifically ensure products and services are being sold fairly?

Our clients are at the heart of our value proposition. We take the long view and build relationships with business owners. We believe in helping our clients make informed choices and help them every step of the way. This belief and focus on our clients pervades all levels of the organization, as much a tone from leadership as it is the passion in the field.

We believe this has minimized our risk of selling unsuitable products to our clients or products with misleading information, or not taking reasonable account of consumer needs, goals or financial situations, or not explaining key terms and conditions.

More information on our approach can be found at our coercive-tied-selling webpage and within our Code of Conduct on page 22.

What is our approach to inclusion and diversity?
We believe that inclusion has power. In fact, that’s one of our values. We know that diverse teams unleash new ideas and perspectives. We work to create an organization where people can be proud of who they are and allies for those around them. We know that there is power in our differences, and we are committed to providing equitable treatment to all employees, applicants and clients. Beyond that, we celebrate our people and those differences. We believe this work is never done, and we are continuously working to improve both the diversity of our workforce and the inclusive nature of our workplaces. See our inclusion and diversity webpage to find out more about how we are supporting our culture to ensure we attract and retain top talent.
What are our inclusion and diversity goals?

At CWB, we believe in our core value that Inclusion Has Power. We believe we reach our true potential by attracting top talent of all backgrounds and welcoming new ideas and perspectives. We have seen the impact that establishing representation targets can have to enhance the diversity of our organization and ensure we are stronger and more prepared for the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.

In 2020, our CEO, Chris Fowler, signed the BlackNorth CEO Pledge and we committed to have Black, Indigenous and racialized people comprise at least 5% of our Executive Committee by 2025. We have also committed to have 30% of the Executive Committee comprised of women.

In addition, the Board set new representation targets for itself. The Board aims to have Black, Indigenous and racialized people comprise at least 5% of the Board by 2025 and have women comprise at least 40%. Currently 42% of our director nominees are women.

In accordance with our Corporate Governance Policy, the GCR Committee considers a number of factors when seeking new directors for nomination, including each candidate’s skills, expertise, experience, integrity, independence, residency and geographic location and diversity criteria such as race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexuality, and abilities. Understanding that systemic biases exist broadly across society and our industry, the Board will consider the impact of biases on candidates to obtain specific qualifications or experiences in considering Board and Executive Committee candidates. See our Proxy Circular for our policies regarding Board and Executive Committee diversity.

What human rights and diversity and inclusion training do we provide our employees?
Two learning modules, “Respect in the Workplace” and “Power of our Differences” which focus on understanding unconscious bias are required at the time of hire. Our new-hire orientation also includes thorough content related to our values, and at our senior leadership conferences, leaders engage in sessions and keynotes related to inclusion and diversity.
What is our approach to attracting skilled employees?

The strength of our people is an essential part of our success, and we are committed to a culture that attracts and retains top talent.

We do this by proactively investing in our practices and programs to build a positive, rewarding and collaborative work environment where teams are empowered to deliver exceptional client experiences, and employees are celebrated for who they are. Our brand and values include a people-first approach to planning and execution, a focus on driving inclusion and diversity as key business advantages, and specific strategies to increase CWB’s brand awareness in the markets where we operate. We complement this with a specialized and knowledgeable approach to talent acquisition, a competitive total rewards offering with differentiated benefits, flexible work arrangements, comprehensive learning and development opportunities and a proactive focus on succession planning. When necessary, we embark on specific recruitment strategies to attract diverse candidates with diverse slate requirements for all leadership roles.

How does management ensure employee satisfaction and retention?
The strength of our people is an essential part of our success. We are committed to a culture that attracts and retains top talent. We invest in improved people-related infrastructure, processes and initiatives to support our objective to be the best choice for top talent. We want top talent to continue to choose us because of our collaborative, performance-based environment that is fair, fun, caring, progressive, diverse, inclusive, and opportunity-rich.
How do we measure employee satisfaction?

Each year we conduct an in-depth trust and engagement survey with our partner Great Place to Work™. This is a comprehensive survey we use to actively and regularly measure our culture. It provides us rich quantitative and qualitative data that we use to drive our culture work. 

Despite managing significant cultural disruptors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CWB was able to enhance the employee experience in 2020. For the second consecutive year, CWB has been certified as a Great Place to Work™ and was named one of Canada's Best Workplaces, moving up 13 spots to come in at number 28.

This achievement recognizes the hard work and dedication each of our people brings to work each day and further demonstrates the strength of living our values during times of adversity.

 
How much do we spend on compensation and benefits?
In fiscal year 2020, we spent $281 million on compensation and benefits.
What is our approach to developing employee skills?
We take a holistic approach to employee development, offering our team members opportunities for on-the-job training, formalized learning and development (in class and online), mandatory compliance training programs (including topics on unconscious bias and respect in the workplace), and a variety of leadership development programs. Our Learning Centre also offers a significant library of online modules on a wide range of soft skill development topics that can be accessed at any time. Employees are further supported through opportunities in our career coaching program and access to financial support for outside learning (through a formal application program).
How do we ensure employees continue to make progress?
To enhance the knowledge and operational skills of our employees, we are proud to offer a variety of in-house professional development programs and learning opportunities. We provide support and guidance to teams wanting to improve their overall effectiveness in areas such as team building, communication and conflict resolution. See "Team Member Experience and Engagement" in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.
How do we evaluate learning opportunities provided to employees?
The Learning Center has allowed us to provide equitable access to training and resources. In 2020, CWB delivered 73,914 learning opportunities to 3,032 employees (an average of 24 per employee). See “2020 Learning Highlights” in our Equity Report Narrative.  
How much training did each CWB employee receive in the most recent year?
In 2020, we invested more than 35,000 hours of learning (an average of 12 hours per person). 
What programs do we have for employees to upgrade and learn new skills?

To enhance the knowledge and operational skills of our employees, we are proud to offer a variety of in-house professional development programs and learning opportunities. Many of our learning resources are on our online Learning Centre, providing our people with the opportunity to increase their skillset and expertise through educational workshops, virtual sessions and learning materials. We have an Educational Assistance program where we reimburse employees up to 100% of eligible fees for job or career related courses. To support our internal pipeline of talent as well as individual career growth, we provide access to certified career coaches through our Career Design program.

See our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.

How many employees undergo performance reviews? How often do they occur?
All employees participate in annual personal objective setting and performance reviews. CWB also requires in-depth leadership assessments for all leadership hires and promotions.
What part of our operations are assessed for risks related to corruption?

We maintain an integrated and disciplined approach to risk management. In relation to financial crime risk, we govern, oversee and assess principles and procedures designed to help ensure compliance with legal and regulatory requirements and internal risk parameters related to anti-money laundering, anti-terrorist financing and sanctions measures, and our compliance with anti-corruption and anti-bribery laws and regulations.

See our Annual Report pages 61-65 for information on our operational risk management.  Additional information related to anti-money laundering, anti-bribery, and anti-corruption is available on pages 21 and 23 in our Code of Conduct.

What anti-corruption and fraud training do we undertake for our employees?
We provide a statement on anti-corruption policies and procedures in the “Disclose and Manage Conflicts of Interest” section in our Code of Conduct, and upon hiring provide training for employees on how to recognize suspicious banking activity. We also train employees annually through AML/ATF Compliance, Privacy, Cyber Security, and Ethics Awareness compliance modules. See the “Risk Management section” in our Annual Report for information on our operational risk management. 
What is our policy on contributing to political parties?
To ensure we comply with all relevant federal and provincial laws and regulations, we have implemented policies related to political donations, including our code of conduct. Our political contributions policy states that employees may not donate in the name of CWB without prior approval of the Chief Ethics Officer. Contributions includes cash and other additions such as buying tickets for fundraising events or donating items. The policy applies to all political parties, candidates, and campaigns including municipal, provincial, or federal. See the “Political Activities, Contributions and Lobbying” section in our Code of Conduct for more information.

Environment

How does CWB approach managing environmental issues and the risks and opportunities presented by climate change?

Our Board of Directors oversees our ESG activities. Recently, we established a sustainability team under the leadership of our Chief Financial Officer. This team is responsible for designing and implementing a sustainability roadmap. The roadmap will include a focused approach on how CWB can best support the transition to a less carbon intensive economy. It will also seek to identify the part CWB can play to help address climate change.

Climate change presents both risks and opportunities for society and the global economy. It will take a collective effort between businesses, government, and individuals to limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to safe levels. CWB is committed to a more sustainable future and supports the transition to a low-carbon economy. As we develop a sustainability roadmap, our climate ambition will be a key focus area. This will include targets and a plan to reduce our own GHG emissions. It will be a focused approach to how CWB can support Canada’s climate goals.

Has CWB adopted the recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)?

Transparent and timely communication on our climate-related work is important to our stakeholders. This year, we will develop and initiate a phased approach to enhance our climate-related disclosures in alignment with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, which aim to facilitate consistent and comparable reporting of climate-related risks and opportunities across industries.

How does CWB ensure that they are reducing their impact on the environment?
In 2019, we prepared five- and 15-year plans to reduce emissions from our operations in the Alberta Capital Region based on electricity, heat, and employee commuting. This was made doable through the assistance of the City of Edmonton’s Energy Transition Unit and Climate Smart, and attending education sessions like the Corporate Climate Leader summit. To achieve these plans, we have implemented many initiatives to reduce GHG, reduce waste, and improve building sustainability.
What financial risks or opportunities has CWB identified due to climate change?

We have identified that while our day-to-day operations do not have a material impact on the environment, we face certain environmental risks including the risk of loss if a borrower is unable to repay loans due to environmental clean up costs, and the risk of damage to our reputation resulting from the same. In order to manage these risks, and to help mitigate our overall impact on the environment, we evaluate potential environmental risks as part of the credit granting process. If potential environmental risks are identified that cannot be resolved to our satisfaction, the loan application will be denied. Where financing is provided, Internal Audit provides third line oversight to ensure all required processes and documentation are in place. Reports on environmental inspections and findings are provided quarterly to the Board Risk Committee. See the “Credit-related Environmental risk” section in our Annual Report for more information.

How does CWB measure its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and what magnitude of GHGs are released?

We are working towards five- and fifteen-year plans to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our operations in the Alberta Capital Region. To measure our GHG output we partner with Climate Smart, a social enterprise in Vancouver, whose approach to measurement complies with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. The following figures include our GHG output from electricity, heat, and team member commuting, which we recognize as our highest energy outputs. GHG output is measured in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), which represents the varying global warming potential of different GHGs and converts them into equivalent tons of carbon dioxide.

 

Alberta Capital Region GHG emissions

2025 Reduction Target | 2035 Reduction Target | FY2017 emissions (baseline) | FY2019 emissions | FY2020 emissions
                 15%                                    25%                                 6,366 tCO2e                     6,070 tCO2e            4,878 tCO2e

 

Our FY2020 GHG emissions in the Alberta Capital Region were 23% below our baseline year, predominantly driven by a reduction in our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions from electricity and heat. This reduction reflects the increase of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced electricity consumption in our corporate office and throughout our network of banking centres. It also reflects certain efficiencies achieved through our increased use of eco-friendly building features, such as lights-on sensors and LED lighting. In 2021 and 2022, we expect our GHG emissions may rise from 2020 figures as many of our team members return to the office. As we refine our climate approach and disclosures, we will include more detailed analysis of the material sources of our GHG emissions.1

 

CWB’s fiscal 2017 greenhouse gas (GHG) baseline inventory and fiscal 2019 GHG inventory were recalculated in 2021 due to improvements in the accuracy of activity data collected for electricity and heating at the Central Alberta CWB locations. The revised activity data resulted in an 8% increase in emissions reported in the baseline fiscal 2017 and fiscal 2019 inventories. Climate Smart’s recalculation policy states any change in a company’s emissions over a ‘5% significance threshold’ triggers an inventory recalculation. This approach adheres to the GHG Protocol’s guidance on baseline recalculation and ensures CWB’s GHG inventories continue to align with the principles of the GHG Protocol.

What are CWB's specific plans for reducing energy consumption?

We commit to reduce our greenhouse gas release in the Alberta Capital Region by 15% by 2025, and 25% by 2035. Current reduction initiatives include:

  • Bicycle parking for employees
  • Retrofitting LED lighting
  • Programmed paper reduction initiatives in print-capable devices
  • Implementation of flexible work arrangements and telecommuting
  • Buying energy efficient appliances and equipment

Reduction initiatives in the planning stage include: 

  • Occupancy sensors
  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Regulated thermostat temperatures
  • Subsidized public transit pass for employees
How much water do CWB offices consume?
We do not currently measure water consumption, wastewater, or water recycling.
How does CWB's business travel impact the environment?
We do not formally measure greenhouse gases or other environmental effects related to business travel, but we encourage employees to consolidate trips, take public transit, bike, and telecommute when possible.
How much waste do CWB offices produce? How does CWB dispose of waste, and are there waste reduction initiatives in place?

Every year we strive to ensure our waste management processes are managed and followed rigorously by encouraging our employees to reduce, reuse, and recycle. In our Edmonton office and in other various locations, we have designated areas for employees to recycle their cardboard, paper, and bottles. See the “Our Environment” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.

Waste management is a key focus for us, as we commit to reduce, reuse and recycle. We continue to encourage our people to print fewer documents and reports and use paper-shred services on every office floor. In 2020, we shredded and recycled more than 97, 892 kg of paper, representing an estimated 1,844 trees.

Recycling old technology also helps us meet our environmental responsibilities. We partner with the Electronic Recycling Association to recycle old technology. In 2020, we returned more than 570 items, such as computer monitors, laptops and printers, after they were securely wiped of all files and information. Through this effort, we recycled more than 1,748 kg of hardware.

Governance

For questions regarding our Governance

Visit our Governance webpage.