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) CWB Full Service Banking

CWB Equipment Financing 
CWB National Leasing 
Broker Buying Center
CWB Maximum 
CWB Franchise Finance 
CWB Optimum Mortgage 
Motive Financial

2) CWB Wealth Management

CWB Wealth Management
CWB McLean & Partners

3) CWB Trust Services

See the “A Differentiated Full-Service Client Experience” 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 headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta. 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, 2019, we had 2,278 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 environmental 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 “Promoting Strong 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 “Promoting Strong 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 “Promoting Strong 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 “Offering Accessible Services” 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 the “Offering Accessible Services” in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Do we have financial literacy programs?
Through our community giving priority of promoting inclusivity, we are committed to improving financial literacy. We've partnered with organizations like Enactus Canada to be the named presenter of the CWB Financial Education National Challenge and support Junior Achievement across western Canada. We also sponsored a financial literacy event for women called “Show Your Money Who’s Boss” as part of our initiatives supporting women, and during a dedicated Seniors Appreciation Week, held financial learning seminars.
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 who deliver 50% of Canada’s GDP and employ 90% of Canada’s workforce. We currently have outstanding loans to small businesses totaling over $3 billion dollars. See Tables 11 and 12 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 2019, 20% of our lending went to the construction industry, supporting infrastructure development. See Table 12 in our Annual Report for our total advances by industry.
How do we strategically approach customer service and customer satisfaction?
Our relationship-based approach is focused 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 with targeted capabilities in highly-responsive business lines offering specialized financing, wealth management and trust services. For more information, see the “A Differentiated Full-Service Client Experience” 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?
Our relationship-based approach is focused 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. See the “A Differentiated Full-Service Client Experience” 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 are not everywhere, opening accounts for everyone.  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?
The Board recognizes the value and importance of diversity of thought both at the Board level and within CWB. In accordance with our Corporate Governance Policy, the GCR Committee considers a number of factors when seeking new directors for nomination, including age, gender, ethnic, and geographic diversity. The Board adopted a policy in 2014 with the goal of increasing the number of women who serve as directors on the Board. The policy set a target that at least 25% of the Board be comprised of women by the end of 2018. The Chair of the Board and the President and CEO are members of the 30% Club Canada, an organization that supports the aspirational goal of 30% of corporate board positions held by women. 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 refreshed 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?

We measure employee engagement annually. In 2019, we began collaborating with Great Place to Work Canada® using their Trust Index© Employee Survey. According to Great Places to Work, people experience a great place to work when they consistently experience trust in the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and experience camaraderie with their colleagues. This year, with this new partnership, we have embarked on the creation of an ongoing employee listening, trust and engagement strategy that involves many ways to gauge and monitor employee satisfaction and trust.

We are pleased to report that in 2019, based on our employee feedback, we certified as a Great Place to Work Canada™, and one of the Best Workplaces™ in Alberta. 

In prior years, we participated in the Kencentric (formerly AON Hewitt) Best Employers in Canada Survey when measuring employee engagement.

How much do we spend on compensation and benefits?
In fiscal year 2019, we spent $257 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 page 11 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 2019, we delivered over 69,000 learning opportunities to almost 2,000 employees. See the “Advancing Our Employees” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.
How much training did each CWB employee receive in the most recent year?
In 2019, we invested more than 23,000 hours in employee training and development, more than 3,300 of which of was focused to address diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias.
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 the “Advancing Our Employees” section in 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 64-68 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 implications of climate change?

We manage our environmental risk through our risk management policies and are focused on reducing our environmental footprint of our operations, particularly around greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, and improving building sustainability.

To manage environmental risks and to help mitigate our overall impact on the environment, we evaluate potential risks as part of its credit granting process. If potential environmental risks are identified that cannot be resolved to our satisfaction, the application will be denied. Further detail is provided in our Annual Report.

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 direct physical impact on the environment, environmental risks include the risk of loss given default if a borrower is unable to repay loans due to environmental cleanup costs, and the risk of damage to our reputation resulting from the same. See the “Environmental risk” section in our Annual Report for more information.
How much energy is used in CWB offices and what magnitude of greenhouse gases are released?

As a part of the Edmonton Climate Leadership Program, we measure our energy use for our operations in the Alberta Capital Region. We recognize that the highest energy outputs come from electricity, heat, and employee commuting. While we undertake energy reduction initiatives, and measure total GHG output, we currently do not measure specific energy use related to heat or electricity at any level of intensity.

Baseline (TCO2e)1 | Baseline Year | First Year | Reduction Target 2025 | Reduction Target 2035 | 
         5,876 2017 2019 15% 25%

CWB Annual Growth | Total to be reduced by 2025 | Total to be reduced by 2035
          10% 881.37 1,469.95

1 TCO2e - Tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent

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 does CWB measure greenhouse gas (GHG) release?
We measure in tonnes of CO2 as unit of output.
What are CWB's plans for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?
We plan to reduce our greenhouse gas release by 15% by 2025, and 25% by 2035 in the Alberta Capital region.
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 “Reducing Our Impact on the Environment” section in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report for more information.

Governance

For questions regarding our Governance

Visit our Governance webpage.