We continued to face a great deal of public scrutiny during the past year. In particular, the numerous legal disputes that had already cost us billions of euros unsettled investors, employees, and clients.
Can a company in this situation still credibly report on its corporate responsibility? My answer is an unequivocal yes. Now, more than at any other time, this is especially important. We must and we will show that we are drawing the right conclusions from our past mistakes.
Since my term as Chairman of the Management Board began in the summer of 2015, we have launched many initiatives to address our failings. We have simplified our structures, made many new management appointments, and resolved a number of our most important legal disputes. To win back trust we also embraced new approaches in communicating with our numerous stakeholders – our clients, shareholders and employees as well as regulators.
The path we are taking towards becoming a better bank, as I described it at last year’s Annual General Meeting, continues to be the right one for us. This includes accepting our corporate responsibility and living according to the values we wholeheartedly believe in. We have demonstrated this clearly in several instances. When, for example, the US state of North Carolina suspended the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in some cities in April 2016, we shelved our plans to create new jobs in Cary. In doing so, our intention was to make absolutely clear our commitment to diversity, tolerance and equality – one of several reasons why many of our employees choose to work for Deutsche Bank.
At last year’s Annual General Meeting we also announced that we will not be expanding our coal financing business, even if market opportunities present themselves. But we want to be even more ambitious and scale back our activities in this sector by up to 20% by 2020.
In addition, we want to provide transparency about how we manage the ecological and social risks related to our activities. We published a policy framework on this issue in May 2016 and are now using it as the basis for evaluating clients and transactions. We have declined several initially appealing transactions because of their associated environmental, social, and reputational risks, while we approved other transactions only subject to certain conditions.
As the Management Board of Deutsche Bank, we are acutely aware that acting responsibly is not just about one-off measures, projects, or initiatives. Our intention is to live up to the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact as the globally recognized cornerstones of corporate responsibility across the entire bank.
We are creating new functions and structures to give a higher priority to sustainability issues. We have appointed a new head of our Sustainability team and are now reinforcing the function. Furthermore, our Deutsche Asset Management business division appointed a chief strategist for responsible investments in December 2016. As a trustee for third-party assets and one of the signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), we aim to consider both financial and non-financial criteria when making investment decisions. The new chief strategist will ensure precisely that.
So we are doing much that is new as we strive to become a better bank. We are, however, also keeping some things unchanged where we are already well-regarded. We are one of the leading DAX-listed companies in terms of our social commitment. We contribute to every society in which we have business operations. In 2016, we were able to reach 4.9 million people worldwide with our corporate citizenship projects. We – and I personally – are very proud of this.
All of this represents the better Deutsche Bank on which we have set our sights. I am convinced that we best serve our clients, investors, employees, and society by upholding the immutable virtues and values of diligence, honesty, trust, and thoroughness. These are the virtues with which all of us at Deutsche Bank would wish to be associated once more.
With best wishes,
Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bank