Bankers Talk A Different Kind of Green

by Aman Singh Das | May 28, 2010

  • My Vault

How much do aspects like workplace safety and environmentally-friendly policies affect your job search? Every year Vault surveys employees to rank companies (by industry) according to standards that matter like diversity, prestige, work/life culture, salary, etc. Last year, we added a section on green, i.e., energy conservation, recycling, environmental friendliness and workplace safety, hoping to get a glimpse into what companies were doing to be more ecologically friendly. We're currently at the tail end of our 2010 Top Banking Employers Survey and the results are humbling. In a bad way.

Responses from some of the top consulting firms globally ranged from "couldn’t care less about being green" to others who emphasized that it was more about "paying lip service to the current buzz around sustainability." Associates and other members of some of the Top 100 Law Firms were alternatively smug, trivial and blithely ignorant about their firms' efforts in being eco-friendly.

Now for the banking industry, which admittedly has faced some duress recently, whether it was for their unethical business practices or seeing their profession fall to rock bottom in trustworthiness (See the results of our recent poll: of "Which of these professions is the most trustworthy?). Keeping that in mind, the comments are somewhat aligned with economic sentiments. However, the lack of objectivity and awareness towards ecology and green initiatives expressed by the respondents is at best, puzzling. For comparison, surveys from the law and consulting industries generated tens of thousands of comments for the green section—excerpts of which I discussed in past weeks. However, less than a tenth of total respondents commented on their firms' environmentally friendly practices. Seems like our esteemed bankers and traders just might have had a different green in mind all along.

The truth behind global warming according to Wall Street

Responsible business practices in the banking industry

"We don't recycle and I think that it is strange. But in an effort to be 'green' they stopped giving us garbage bags in the cans at our desks. There is also an energy star logo on the outside of the building, but I do not know why."

"Not sure we should be having a commitment to the political process given that global warming topics are not scientifically proven."

" I have no idea, it's not emphasized."

" No recycling exists in the office despite thousands of pages printed daily. Incredibly wasteful."

"Not really that relevant, given our industry."

"TVs are left on all weekend long on the trading floor."

"Have an environmental senior advisor on board."

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Paying lip service to the environment

"Offering recycling bins is the extent of firm's commitment."

" Touted as environmentally friendly, but I'm not convinced it's not cost saving inspired."

"I think they've gone off the deep end in this regard. They took away the large coffee cups to save paper, they have a crazy elevator system that is energy efficient but not people efficient, the shades go up and down automatically, and they grow grass on the roof and make ice in the basement at night."

"Our CEO writes all his emails in green text."

"Started environmental friendly policies, but way behind on this. Just not a priority with everything else going on at the firm."

"The firm provides some programs but, they do not honestly interest me."

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Green Initiatives in the Workplace

"We take our environmental policies very seriously and are actively involved in LEED building, reducing reliance on paper, etc."

"...has a $50 billion commitment to climate protection. My building is LEED certified."

"… is very environmentally conscious. Our New York HQ building was, in fact, one of the first buildings in New York to install ice-based air conditioning technology that utilizes off-peak electricity to generate ice during the evenings and then uses the stored ice to condition the air during the day. This helps reduce peak loads in the electricity system and helps reduce the need for additional power plant construction."

Got an argument that might save them some face? Or is offering online banking and PDF statements the extent of their green initiatives? Should bankers' primary priority be limited to boosting the economy? After all job creation must take precedence over saving trees. Right? Leave a comment or connect with me on Twitter @VaultCSR.

Filed Under: CSR

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