When I joined the board of Bank First a year ago very few of us could have predicted the circumstances we are all facing and the extent of the total disruption to work, the economy and the concerns that we have for friends, family and the community.
In a COVID world priorities have changed; the focus is on health, our children's education, job security and social welfare. Governments, the global economy and the corporate sector are scrambling to hold things together.
As we face these febrile times I have become increasingly of a view that concepts of “balance” and “sustainability” are critically important to us all. These concepts apply equally to our family lives and to the role capitalism plays in our economic lives.
Many years ago when I was a young banking CEO dealing with a very complex regulatory challenge I lost all sense of personal wellbeing. After 12 months of crisis management I was overweight, unfit and developing stress related blood pressure issues. My body was telling me that I was out of balance. That scare led me to change my priorities, to invest more time in healthy living, breathing, sport and a decent diet. Work for me remains important but is balanced by a focus on community investment and working with people and companies working with purpose and a responsible attitude to economic and environmental impact.
When we look at the economy and the nature of our capitalist economic model it is equally the case that things are becoming out of balance. The constant drive to maximise shareholder returns through dividends has led many companies to think short term rather than long term. They have compromised their ethical and environmental standards in search of profit. Human rights abuses occur in the making of the food we eat and the clothes we buy and, as a result, new laws are having to be introduced to eliminate slavery from our supply chains. Should it really be necessary to set laws to say slavery is wrong?.....sadly it is.
After a year now serving on the board of Bank First I am proud to be working with a company that operates with purpose. It has balance. We are not driven by the singular profit motivation of many financial organisations. We work hard to provide financial services to people who serve the community. We share in their success and our business success is integral with the success of our members.
As an employer we also value our people as individuals, as parents or carers and adopt an approach that recognises differences to help them thrive in these uncertain times. Connected to a strong values based culture, we demonstrate care for our people in understanding any specific challenges or vulnerabilities to incorporate flexibility and support balance in a variety of forms.
Wellbeing continues to be a key focus for Bank First where we have worked closely with our people and implemented initiatives around mental and physical health. Our psychological safety initiative has built upon an environment of openness and placed our future way of work in a strong position.
Thank you. Take care and have a great year.