Brunon Bartkiewicz

Board Chairman at ING Bank Slaski

Nowadays, more and more often company managers put emphasis on the fact that their organization fits into a broader social context and undertakes initiatives related to corporate social responsibility. What activities do you carry out in this area, how is it implemented, what does responsible leadership mean to you?

Economic or business action has always made sense if it was part of the social needs affecting the enterprises concerned. The image of the separation between business and social interest was created by large global corporations unrelated to the communities within which they operated. It cannot be said that a new trend of corporate responsibility is now emerging. This is getting back to the roots. Referring to ING – all our activities are directed to the implementation of social tasks. We are here to serve our clients, to support them in making important decisions.

The question suggests a separation between social activities called CSR, now ESG, and the functioning of business. However, I would not like this type of differentiation. The activities of our ING for Children Foundation, the ING Polish Art Foundation in the field of supporting young artists in Poland or activities addressed to people with disabilities and their professional activation – this is an element of our normal functioning. 

More and more investors and financial institutions choose as their partners those organizations that operate in accordance with ESG recommendations. Do you think that is right? How does the company you manage go beyond the so-called business as usual? What is it doing for the climate, local communities, diversity or what would you like to implement in the near future?

ESG recommendations generally become legal norms. Therefore, each investor chooses entities operating in accordance with ESG, as those that have greater strength and ability to survive in the market. This is completely logical. The fact that a company shows genuine and not feigned concern for the community within which it operates increases the chances of success, sustainable income and business stability.

At ING a few years ago, we defined the goal we want to pursue. In 2017, we announced an environmental declaration in which we committed that after 2025 we would not finance customers whose activities are directly dependent on steam coal to a degree higher than 5%. It was one of the pioneering documents in Poland. Changes on the market and new regulations prompted us to decide to reimplement it in 2021. We have maintained the assumptions made in the earlier declaration. In the new document, we announced the allocation of 5.3 PLN billion to finance renewable energy sources and pro-ecological projects and the creation of a grant program for start-ups and young scientists for the implementation of projects in the area of sustainable development with an annual budget of 2 PLN million. We support an educational initiative addressed to primary school students, which combines expanding the ecological knowledge of children and youth with shaping their character and pro-social attitudes and improving digital competences. We also decided to actively support employee volunteering by creating a special eco-fund for the implementation of ecological projects for the benefit of local communities.

Every company creates its corporate culture that embodies the values that customers see externally. Do customers prefer to choose this particular company because it does something good with which the customer identifies or is it mainly price-driven purchasing decisions? What is your opinion, what trends have you observed, is something changing in this area?

The perception of corporate and business responsibility is constantly growing. Societies are beginning to attach more and more importance to the way the brand is managed, i.e. attitude towards climate change, the treatment of employees or the social environment in which it operates. Thanks to this, organizations become more credible in assessing stakeholders, both internal and external.

Entities that do not comply with standards or do not care about social elements must take into account the risks that will take the form of reputational risk – due to their activities or for contacts with an entity that is dishonest and does not meet ethical standards. Today, not only the price affects the customer’s decisions, but also how a given company produces its product or service – what it uses, how it treats employees or suppliers. All of this is of great importance of course. We have always dreamed that ethical companies would receive some form of compensation for their care for others, ethical activities, not violating accepted norms. For many years, this was not the case, because only the effect of the price was important, and the rest was not as important.

So we are returning to a level of normality where we treat functioning in business as a form of activity that is sustainable for many years. At the same time, I wanted to emphasize that the words ethics and business are really two sides of the same coin.

The development of values and ethical principles in many organizations may indicate that awareness in this area is growing. Many managers declare that they put ethics at the center of their activities. Is compliance with the principles of fair play in management a guarantee of stable development of the company?

In my opinion, these elements cannot be considered individually. I am absolutely convinced that companies that use values and have a strong culture of ethical behavior are entities that will survive and function in the medium and long term. On the other hand, those organizations that are focused on obtaining short-term high profits, without caring about its sustainability and ethical values – have no chance of success. That is why we have been building an organizational culture based on ethical principles at the bank for years. At ING, we call them the Orange Code. ING’s values reflect who we are and how we want to be perceived by our clients, i.e. we are: prudent, responsible, honest. In practice, we implement them, among others, by creating products and services that provide information needed to make important life decisions, share knowledge, warning about risks, constantly improving and at the same time caring for the environment.

ING’s actions, on the other hand, are a commitment that we, as employees, make to each other every day. These are the rules of conduct common to the entire organization, that is: you help others achieve success, take initiative and act effectively, you are always one step ahead. Both ING’s values and actions relate to how we treat other people – people outside the bank and each other. Orange Code is our banking DNA, which defines our identity and distinguishes us from organizations existing on the market.

The world needs wise and good leaders who want to have a positive impact on their environment. Was there a moment when you started to look for a deeper meaning in your work, an opportunity to do something good for your communities or country? What has been achieved?

Banks, through the allocation of capital and financing investments, play a very important role in the development of economic and social life. From the start of my job here, I had no doubt that our activities should serve these goals.

Brunon Bartkiewicz – President of the Management Board, ING Bank Slaski has been associated with ING Bank Sląski and ING since the early 90s.

In 1995 he was appointed President of the Management Board of Bank Śląski. In 2000, for the next four years, he became CEO and Member of the Management Board of ING Direct NV. In this position, he was responsible for credit and market risk management, IT and operational support and operational risk management.

In 2004 he was appointed President of ING Bank Śląski. In 2010, he became a member of the General Management Team at ING Direct, where he was, amongst other things, responsible for operations in Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain and Australia. Since 2012, he has supervised ING’s operations in France, Italy, Poland, Spain, Romania and Turkey.

As Chief Innovation Officer at the ING Group (since 2014), Brunon Bartkiewicz played a significant role at ING in implementing innovations, promoting innovative ideas and solutions, applying modern technologies and quickly introducing innovative ideas to the market.

In 2016, he was again appointed President of ING Bank Śląski

Brunon Bartkiewicz graduated from the Foreign Trade Department of the Main School of Planning and Statistics (SGH).

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Anastazja Lach