Empowering our communities to progress goes far beyond the work we do inside our bank. In times of crisis, we understand that showing solidarity with those who need it most is the only way for us to truly fulfil our Purpose.
In early 2022, our people came together to support Ukraine: from funds raised, to opening homes to refugees and dedicating personal time to join the cause, we truly saw what it meant to be united by a single ambition.
During this time, 4,170 employees from across our countries came together to donate their personal funds through an employee giving initiative. All donations were matched (doubled) by the UniCredit Foundation for a final total contribution of approximately €846,000 benefitting the Red Cross, Save the Children and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Final total contribution benefitting Red Cross, Save the Children and UNHCR
At the same time, colleagues were able to send money transfers to Ukraine with UniCredit’s support without paying any transaction fees. Even more, we introduced a streamlined bank account opening process for refugees with a special current account offer of “Gold status”, with all fees waived for one full year. Separately, our Group Security team organised on-the-ground transfers from the borders of Poland, Romania and Slovakia to help Ukrainians find safety away from the major areas of conflict.
In different countries, we gave NGOs the opportunity to use empty spaces in our branches to collect and store goods which were sent to regions impacted by the conflict.
In Italy, we sponsored the opening of the #HelpUkraine Hub in partnership with non- profit organisation AVSI, which served as a central location for incoming refugees, providing resources and support services, as well as connecting the many Italians who wish to help with those in need.
Finally, in UniCredit HypoVereinsbank, several children’s sports and cultural activities were prepared and we offered virtual exchanges and readings for children in Ukrainian and Russian languages. At the same time, the bank introduced a list of trusted charities and organisations on the UniCredit HypoVereinsbank website with a call to action for clients to provide quick and easy financial donations.
Here at UniCredit, when we unite our people behind one common goal, we see the tangible impact of what it means to empower communities to progress. The action we took to support these communities in crisis was demonstrative of this Purpose.
A conversation with...
Irina Detlefsen, Social Impact Banking and member of the Ukraine support team in Germany
How have the Ukraine support projects contributed to our Bank’s overall strategy?
Social Impact Banking and member of the Ukraine support team in Germany
Banks have an important social role and responsibility. UniCredit has always been an active corporate citizen and has taken responsibility for society. What makes it special is that this social commitment is an essential part of a strong strategic ESG orientation with the three ESG pillars. UniCredit is continuously taking positive steps and committed to demonstrating real, tangible action and results in all our daily activities.
In practice, this means that engagement happens with all our stakeholders – in the bank’s organisation between colleagues, with our clients, our partners and with our communities. Otherwise, our support for Ukraine would not have been possible. ESG engagement is also a continuous learning process. We are flexible and attentive to a rapidly changing environment and specific social concerns or needs. UniCredit has the strategic framework to encounter those challenges and UniCredit people have the mindset and values to adapt and also realise visions.
Why are you particularly proud to have worked on this initiative?
The Ukraine conflict caused quite big challenges for Germany in terms of logistics, financial and social needs of the arriving refugees. For me personally, this is the second refugee project of the Bank I have been involved in after the Syrian crisis. It was great to experience how extremely quick decisions of our top management were made to put together a special aid package consisting of a variety of aid measures, which was launched within a few days.
The refugee support started in a kind of hands-on mentality according to our Value of Ownership: bank owned apartments for families, free bank accounts, donations to social organisations, catering service for a refugee camp and about 40 employees who engaged themselves up to 20 working days each for the people in need. It's always helpful to donate money but it's much more demanding for a company to launch such a complex aid programme. I am proud to have been part of this big aid programme.
Why was this important for UniCredit’s agenda and commitments?
UniCredit’s Purpose is “empowering communities to progress”. With the Ukraine support project, UniCredit has shown that this is meant seriously and backed up with concrete actions. This is important for the Bank itself, which wants to make an economic and social contribution, but also for the employees, who want to be proud to work for UniCredit and expect corresponding aid actions from their employer.
At this moment, it becomes clear whether our company is serious and acts according to its strategy and declarations of intent. Beside material help, it was just as important to set an example and support the personal voluntary work of colleagues.