The core elements of an engaging csr strategy

A webinar with Scotiabank

To truly engage and activate audiences, organizations must develop a CSR narrative that roots all communications in the organization’s core beliefs, values, and purpose, moving the conversation from “here is what we are doing” to “here’s why what we are doing matters to you.”

Watch this webinar with Samantha Mesrobian, Director Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank, to hear how their new CSR strategy dramatically altered how they engaged with their audiences, allowing them to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach (a traditional report) and embraced a wide range of communication tactics designed to provide all stakeholders the opportunity to take part in the conversation.

In this hour long webinar, we covered:

  • How to weave purpose into a strategic CSR narrative
  • Tips for creating a strategy frameworks that align CSR with core business strategy
  • When to (and when not to) leverage storytelling when interacting with various stakeholder groups
  • How to move beyond descriptions of what CSR does — and start speaking to why it matters to your audience

Please submit the form to access the webinar recording:


Guusje: Welcome everybody to our thinkPARALLAX webinar with Scotiabank with Samantha. We’re going to talk with Sam about her CSR strategy and the journey that the bank has made to get to where they’re right now.

First of all, my name is Guusje Bendeler. I’m co-founder of thinkPARALLAX. I’m also Head of Strategy and Creative. thinkPARALLAX is a strategic communications agency with a specialty in citizenship, strategy, and communications. We work with clients like Scotiabank, of course, for over a year now with Sam, but also with Southwest Airlines, International Paper, and many more.

I’m here with Samantha Mesrobian, and she’s joining us here from Toronto so quite far away from us, but we’re able through lots of these videoconferences and meeting each other to keep in close touch when we work together.

Sam is a real visionary and go getter, with a passion for CSR, and really likes to break through corporate barriers at the bank and do her work. She has done a tremendous job the last year with moving the bank [and] the CSR strategy from the what into the why.

So, hi Sam. How are you?

Samantha: Thank you for that.

Guusje: Now, will you please tell a little bit about yourself, your background, and your role at the bank, please.

Samantha: Sure, of course. So welcome everyone and thank you for the introduction Guusje. I’ve been with Scotiabank for about 10 years now, and I’ve been in this role as Structure of CSR for just over two. In that role, I’m responsible for the CSR strategy, peer reporting, stakeholder engagement, and of course communications, which is what we’re talking about today.

My experience, before Scotiabank, was on the marketing side, and for the most part, focused on brands. So I think that between the brand experience I had at Scotiabank and the marketing experience I have outside of the bank, it has allowed me to bring a unique perspectives to this current role in understanding the impacts to brands that are not just about how your market, but it’s also about gravitation and value. And that can be very much driven and impacted by your CSR.

Guusje: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what you’re going to talk about today, right?

Samantha: Exactly.

Guusje: So before I want to really give the whole webinar to you to explain your journey, let’s go quickly to what our plan for the day is. We’ll really start with hearing about your stories for the bank, and then I’m sure I’ll be asking you a couple questions. And then for all the participants, of course, please if you have any questions, jot them down and there is a questions section in your control panel here on the webinar … And by the way, I hope everybody can hear me and see us really well. If that’s not the case, then please make a little chat in the chat feature on the control panel, and we can see if we can help out.

So, after Sam has explained about the journey of CSR at the bank, we will open it up for question and answer for all of you. So please join in, and yeah. I think now with no further ado, please Sam go ahead and explain how you went from the what to the why.

Samantha: Okay, great. Thank you. So I think before I start with the what to the why, I think it’s really important to give a little bit of context about Scotiabank, so if you want to go to the next slide. I’ll just give you a little context.

Scotiabank is one of the largest 25 banks in the world. We operate in more than 60 countries. So because of that, we are what is called Canada’s International Bank and leading financial services provider. So, as you can see from this map, we operate in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central America, and Asia Pacific.

We also cover a really broad range of advice, products, and services that run from personal and commercial banking, wealth management and private banking, corporate investment banking, and capital markets. So it’s a very diverse portfolio across very diverse markets.

We have, across our portfolio, 23 million customers, and we have over 88,000 employees. So just to give you some other context, within Canada there are over 35,000 employees. So actually in our international markets we have a bigger employee roster and branches, as well. So we have just over 1,100 branches in Canada in our retail footprint and just under 2,000 in our international market. So predominately our retail markets are Latin America, Central America, South America, and Canada, of course. The rest of the markets are not a retail banking base.

The last little piece I’ll give you is that as of our last Q2 results … Q3 will be coming out at the end of July, but our Q2 results we were at $921 billion in assets. We are not a small company. We are very complex, and we operate across a broad base of markets and customers.

Now, we can start on our journey, so if you want to go to the next slide please … Thank you.

As we talk about this journey, there’s three things … Once we get past this clip, there’s three things we’re going to talk about. One is establishing our strategic framework. One is about changing the narrative. And the third one is really about our communications plan. How do we define our audiences? And what are the messages that are important to specific audiences?

Over the course of the last year or so, the bank has established a new core purpose for why we bank and that is that we believe every customer has the right to become better off.

As the bank evolved into this new core purpose, it presented a great opportunity for the CSR team to address a disconnect. That disconnect was between CSR and the business itself. It was driven by a narrative and it was driven by execution, but there was definitely a big disconnect.

So, we created a CSR strategy called Better Future, Better Off and that allowed us to articulate that connection, not only to the business and why we bank, but also to the CSR initiatives of today and how we’re building sustainability into our operations for the future.

If you look at this diagram, you can see that the framework ensures a few things. One is that everything we’re doing is connected by why we bank, which was really central to not only buy in from our executives but also in how we communicate all our initiatives. And the framework also does another thing. We used to look at these five things: corporate governance, customers, employees, environment, and community as five what I’m going to call pillars. And actually they are not standalone, and especially corporate governance is really integrated across all of our things. So changing even visually how we look at what we’re doing into a circle diagram was a small thing, but actually helped us really to help articulate what we’re trying to do here.

The other thing that we changed in our framework was we stopped talking about our commitments, which are those five, and we started talking about our priorities and how those are connected to why we bank and helping our customers become better off.

What I like about our strategy Better Future, Better Off is not only that it’s connected to why we bank, but it also adds all things in CSR and sustainability. It looks to the future, and so it ensures that we have that North Star looking to not only what are we … Nope, not yet go back. Not only what are we impact-

Guusje:  Oops, sorry.

Samantha:  Impacting tomorrow.

Guusje: Sorry.

Samantha: Go back to the circle for one sec.

Guusje: Yes.

Samantha: Okay, so again, all of these things are priorities. Those are financial knowledge, access to finance, diversity and inclusion, responsible finance, climate change, and investing in young people as you can see there. All of those …

The other thing that we did by establishing our strategy was to establish really rigorous KPIs, as well. So if you … I’ll refer you to our website and the CSR reports at the end of the presentation, but you can look at that and see what our targets were this year … last year, sorry … We set directional targets, and this year we set actual KPIs. Next year we’re hoping to establish 3-5 year KPIs, instead of one year of both. So again, part of a journey.

Okay, now you can go to the next page.

Guusje:  I’m already there.

Samantha: Thank you.

Okay, so I think some interesting context for you on the phone is that Scotiabank used to be known sort of jokingly as the bank of no comment, and I think that that was very much reflected actually in our CSR storytelling. So we went in our journey went from a focus on what we do, which is based on those five commitment areas to a narrative around why. Why what we do matters and why it impacts our communities. And again, now our storytelling is around our priorities. We don’t want to talk about customers in general. We want to talk about the things that we’re doing to enable our customers with financial knowledge and access to finance, for example. A really important shift in our narrative.

Do you want to go to the next slide?

This is another really critical element in our journey, and I love thinkPARALLAX for coming up with this tree analogy because it really helps us. It gave us a North Start, and it keeps us rooted so everything that we’re doing is connected to our core purpose, our values, and that the CSR strategy is connected to that always. So, as you can see, the CSR strategy is actually the trunk in this illustration. And it’s the foundation for all of our communications and our activities. The branches are our priorities and material issues. So material issues, as you know, we go through stakeholder engagements. That’s how we aligned our priorities, by speaking with lots of stakeholders over a few year time period. Then we connect those initiatives and performance back to the strategy and purpose. So, again, I love this illustration because it really helps us keep a focus on what we’re trying to do with our storytelling and our narrative, which are the leaves. And we had to come back to this quite a few times over the course of the journey just to make sure we were not getting drawn down into the trunk of strategy, but that we were storytelling about the why.

I’m going to go to the next slide … Please.

This is the third element. Also very important part of our journey, which was really understanding who are audience was … our audiences are, sorry. And what kind of messaging and what kind of information they were looking for. So prior to our communications work with thinkPARALLAX, we had one annual CSR report and we had one static CSR website. So we would update the website on an annual basis based on the upcoming report, and the 2015 report was well over 100 pages long. Not only were we writing great stories, but no one was reading them because it was too long. It was too varied, and we were trying to fit a one size fits all message into one report. Great idea. Doesn’t work in today’s day in age.

So we started pulling apart social media, and traditional media, and who were the audiences. So you see there are 3BLs, which we use quite a lot for sharing not only our impact stories but sometimes Tweets, and Facebook posts. It depends on what we’re using externally to promote different things, but we have used almost all of these elements. Not all of them yet, but most of them I would say. We don’t have a Microsite, but we do have two internal channels. One is called Scotiabank Live, as you see there. The other is we’re testing Workplace on Face … or Facebook Workplace … whatever you call it. Facebook I’ll call it. Internally. So we have some interesting channels that we’re using.

We’re using also, as you can see in the middle there, we’re using different formats. So we’re using not just one long and dry report. We’re using video. We’re using editorial stories. We’re using our website via our storytelling platform. We have a GRI data … a GR Index Report. We have an ESG Reports. We have Public Accountability Statements. So all of these are tailored to provide the right message to the right audience. So this was really important.

We also now have a really robust and dynamic website, which you could go to the next slide.

Samantha: Okay, so this is just a visual. The website, as you can see on the bottom, is So right now we have, on the very front of the landing page, is our seven priorities. Again, we don’t talk about our commitments first, we talk about our priorities and the impacts that we’re making. So under each of those seven areas right now there is an impact story. As you can see on the landing page, there’s a video about our strategy, so that we’re trying to connect all of those priorities together for our audiences.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to add seven more stories across those categories. We’re also adding Q&As, and we also have videos coming. So there’s a lot of content that we want to continue to update it. It will no longer be a once a year update.

And within that website, you can see on the right-hand side at the top, there’s a download section. So if you want to read the report, great. You can download it there in three languages. Or if you want to read the GRI table because you’re crazy, you can do that, too. It’s very dry, I’ll let you know.

I think that by becoming storytellers, we’re actually enabling the banks to be seen as having a better impact in the market. Our employees understand the connection between the business and how the bank operates. The CSR is not seen as an isolated thing. It’s actually just a platform for the company to talk about the great things that we’re doing, and how we operate across our different markets.

So I love that we’re storytellers now. And I think that we have a lot to say. So we are no longer the bank of no comment, which actually has changed across a lot of the aspects of our communication plan, not just CSR. But it’s great to be on that same bandwagon and be part of what’s happening across the bank.

So that was a very fast journey.

Guusje:   Yeah.

Samantha: Well, I’m sorry about that.

Guusje:  No, no, no. Let me … I’ll join you again. Thank you very much for this story about your journey. I think it’s fascinating because, as large as you are, it’s not an easy task. And you summarized it beautifully in a very short time, but a lot of important [work went into that] as we all know.

So I guess the first thing I’m really curious about, Sam, is how was it received? How was it received by employees? By leaders? By the community? What have been some reactions so far?

Samantha:  I think that the biggest … First of all, well received overall. Well received, but I think the biggest … In my mind, the biggest evidence of success is that people are actually talking about Better Future, Better Off. They’re actually saying that back to us, and they understand that there’s a business connection. That to me is the first sign of success. That it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to do. It’s actually helping people understand how we operate is connected.

Guusje:  That’s a big first step, right?

Samantha: Huge. Huge.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  And we talked about this being a journey because we’re not … You’re never going to get all the way to your end goal in your first step. I mean we just launched the website and all the reporting in April, and now we’re updating content in July. So, you know, in three years from now, we’re going to be in a very different place, and we’re going to have so much content, people are going to go, “Wow! It’s crazy what’s happening over there at Scotiabank.” I hope.

Guusje:  Yeah, yeah. What you’re working towards. So what do you consider … I guess, that people now talk about Better Future, Better Off that you can consider a success. Do you feel like there are any other moments where you felt like, “Oh! This is clicking for people.” Or, “Oh! Now I’m not the only one who’s working towards this so hard.” What are some other early successes?

Samantha: That’s a really good question. What I think is good is that other groups are starting to use those similar language. That some of the priorities, actually, even within our priority list … Even though they were already priorities for how we operate, they’re actually gaining in awareness, or gaining in momentum, and there is increase support in resources behind some of those initiatives. So, again, the role of CSR at Scotiabank is really as an influencer. We don’t own any of the initiatives, we influence the bank to make progress on some of those priorities. So if we can see excitement and momentum building behind a certain priority area that’s been identified for the bank, that also is success for us.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, and it starts to really now connect what is important to the bank, the CSR, so that’s one …

Samantha:  It just means that…

Guusje:    So what is … Sorry, what did you say?

Samantha: That it means more people are engaged in the journey.

Guusje:  Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So a lot of hard work has been done so far, but you’re obviously not sitting leaning back and say, “Okay, well now we’re good. We tell a few more stories and we’re done.” So what is next?

Samantha: I think that there’s still an opportunity for us to integrate more and engage our employees more. So if you were involved … For example, if you’re involved in access to finance, there’s actually probably three different groups in the bank that might be driving the impact in that area. But when you start to talk to a broad group of employees about access to finance, many may not even know what that is, or have very little awareness of what that is, or how their job actually impacts that. That’s what I mean by integration. So we still have a lot of work to do on that side, I think.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: And, of course, more stories because we still have more audiences to talk to. I think we’ve done a really good job starting that momentum externally with 3BLs, with some of our communication tactics externally. I think that we have lots of room to grow internally.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  And we’ll continue to build on that awareness with employees because it gets people excited about the organization.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. And I would say because you’re such a global bank, more than half of your bank is all over the world and not just in Canada. How that integration is an even bigger challenge because of the size of your bank and how spread out you are. So how are you trying to deal with that?

Samantha: So we have, in our large market … So Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Canada we have dedicated CSR Teams. The Canadian team is obviously us, which is very small by the way. We’re only four. So we’re already aligned on strategies, but on the ground some of the initiatives they might be doing against those priorities might be different because the country needs are going to be different. So trying to ensure … I think that’s also part of our journey is to continue to make sure that we’re collaborating, but also in our storytelling, it can’t be a Canada voice. It has to represent the diversity of our markets and the geography of our markets. So we have to make sure we’ve got a good variety of stories coming out of countries. And actually, I think, some of the more interesting stories for me because I am from Canada are actually the stories from our Latin American partners, in particular.

Guusje:   Yeah. I agree, I agree. It adds a much more global level and all your priorities are really touching on bigger, global, I guess issues that are being dealt with everywhere, not just with your bank, but everywhere. So it’s very relevant.

Samantha:  I can give an example of how that might be different across our markets. So Access to Finance can mean anything from digital access, or remote community access, or microfinancing. So we don’t have microfinancing in Canada, but we do have Microfinancing in our Latin American countries. So those nuances are really important because we don’t necessarily …

And the solutions that we provide are going to be different. The remote communities in Peru may have some commonalities with remote communities in Canada, but the technology available or the cell phone coverage, or the cellular towers, or however their infrastructure is set up may present its own challenges. And so there’s no one size fits all, right? You can have a priority that has common threads, but it has very many threads. And that adds to the complexity of the bank.

Guusje:   Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I can imagine. So, I guess, talking about complexity. I’m sure that beyond it has been received really successful, and you’re working towards continuing on your journey to explain the why throughs storytelling rooted in the strategy and in the purpose of the bank. What were some of the challenges that you encountered in the last year, or maybe even longer, because we’ve worked with each other for a year, but I’m sure you already had lots in motion and were working on building to where you are right now. So what were some difficulties that you bumped into but maybe didn’t expect or maybe were bigger than … yeah, that you had to deal with?

Samantha: Yeah. I think the biggest one was really that disconnect between CSR and the business because if you’re not talking to your business partners in a language they understand, then it like gobbles you. It goes straight over their head, or they’re not really listening. But I think making sure that we were using the right language with the right audience. So not just from a storytelling perspective but how we’re communicating what our priorities were. And when we talk about our strategy, making sure we were using the right language with the right audiences. So that was also an interesting learning, I’d say, because we tend to speak in our own acronyms, and we use terms that are familiar to us in our space. So when I was in marketing, we used marketing terms, buzz words, whatever you want to call them. In CSR, we have our own set of lexicon. So, I think, the learning for us was not only to make sure you’re using plain language, but also be really clear what you’re trying to do. Sometimes you have to step back from what you’re doing to make sure you’re clear with your audience because if you’re talking in your own language, then you’re talking in circles to someone who doesn’t understand that language.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) So you really felt that once you’re understanding that, and you spoken the plain language … or in the language that you were really trying to connect it to the business … You felt like people were like, “Okay. Yeah, I get that. I can rally around that.” Right?

Samantha: Yeah. See, I think that especially at the executive levels because they can understand what we are really trying to accomplish. That it actually does have an impact on the banking operations. That it has a positive impact on brand reputation and brand value.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: Yeah. And advertising effort.

Guusje: Yeah, that’s major.

Samantha:   It’s very major. The other one was just in our storytelling. Why do we want to be storytellers? And why are we telling the why and not the what? Even that. Making sure that you’re clear on where your journey is heading, I think, is really important up front because you’ll get buy-in early. And you need buy-in early because I mean we really changed direction on how we wanted to tell our story.

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah. And that helps, too, that on a global level everybody understands and know how to tell those stories and why to tell those stories.

Samantha: And also why they want to share stories with us so that we can amplify them.

Guusje:  Yes. Yes.

Samantha:  Again, it’s engaging people and getting them excited in what we’re trying to do because it has positive impact. It has a lot of interest for a broader audience.

Guusje: Yeah. And you feel that that now is … that that people all over the world … your CSR teams … your global teams … or regional teams, I should say, are really latching onto that and providing stories with that why angle?

Samantha: Yeah. I think for the most part because they get excited when they see their stories, not only in the CSR report, but on the website. Right? And again, the stories are not about, “Yay! Scotiabank look what we’re doing.” You know, we try to take the angle from either a customer we’ve helped or for example, we’re talking about … I don’t want to give it away, actually. There’s a story out of Mexico that’s a very exciting story, but it’s not about Scotiabank, actually, but it’s how Scotiabank is participating and further impacting that area. It’s a more interesting way to talk about what we’re doing, and I think that that gets our colleagues in the countries excited about sharing those because they like to be promoting the good things that are happening in their countries.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. So if we want to read that story, we just need to come back to your website in a little while.

Samantha:  Yes. So you can … Anyone who’s on this call can read seven stories and watch a video right away. And over the next few weeks, there’ll be another seven stories and another video. And then there’ll be … You know, this is an ongoing process now. So it’s a whole other resourcing question.

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah, resourcing. So I guess maybe the resourcing is one I want to kind of ask you because I think it will be interesting for the participants to hear. Do you have any tips for people that are listening about your journey? And maybe actually a good one is is to resourcing you being with a team with only four and being so global, how do you deal with resourcing? How are you smart? Do you have any tips around that and how you can gather content? And I think, really, you already gave one where it was like, “Okay. Our story’s really clear right now. People understand it. It’s connecting to the business. It’s about the why and therefore, people are more eager to participate.” But how do you … Do you have any tips, in general, and then maybe in specific about the resourcing?

Samantha: I have a few tips. One is you can’t change things overnight, so you have to have patience. Everyone needs patience because you are on a journey. So whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, you need … I would say that’s my first tip. Have patience.

The other thing I would say is don’t add to anyone’s workload. So we talked about the resources needed for storytelling, but we didn’t want to add a burden necessarily to our colleagues in the countries. So we tried to tap onto existing meaning platforms and existing communication channels where they’re already providing stories. And then if we think there’s an interesting story that we want to run with, then we go back and say, “Okay. So here’s some questions that we’d like you to answer, so that we can write a story.” And then you include them in the whole process. So it’s not all here. It’s about the broader team, which is across our markets.

Guusje:    Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Samantha: So that helps a lot.

Guusje: Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Any other tips or ideas you can share?

Samantha:   I think we already covered make sure you’re using plain language.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. You’re right.

Samantha: Not just in your storytelling but also how you’re articulating internally. I think we already covered be clear on where you’re trying to go. If you restate your strategy, your end goal is not going to be that you restated your strategy. Your end goal is going to be, you know, a few years down the road. And how are you delivering on that strategy? You’re not going to get there overnight. So be clear on where you’re going and make sure it’s connected to the business.

I think that was the biggest learning for us, is that we were doing all these great things, but it wasn’t connected enough … It was connected but not enough where people were going, “Oh, yeah. I get why we’re doing that because that is a direct impact on our operations, and our customers, and [the community].”

Guusje: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Good. Okay, well thank you very much for answering my questions. I want to go to some questions of the participants.

Samantha:  Okay.

Guusje: So, anybody has any questions please jot them down in the questions little panel in the control panel. But let’s first … There’s a question from Patrick and it says, “Can you touch on how you introduced this to your workforce to gain support, further momentum, and gain buy-in?”

Samantha: That, too, is a journey. I think a lot of the communication started with the launch of the website and our report because that’s the easiest starting point on how we’re communicating with employees. But the VP of CSR has continued to meet with different groups of … I have, as well. So we participate in either a huddle or, again, existing meeting platforms. We talk about our strategy, and we talk about our priorities. So planning a lot of different opportunities to get in front of employees is really key to that internal communications plan.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Samantha:  So even [participating internally] in conferences, all sorts of things.

Guusje:  Sorry, the last sentence you broke up a little bit.

Samantha: We’ve been participating in internal conferences, as well.

Guusje:  Uh-huh.

Samantha:  Any platform where you can talk about your strategy and how it’s connected to the business is always going to be welcome.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So and this questions ties in. It’s from Omar. We’re talking about internal communications. “How are you communicating progress, for example?”

Samantha:  So progress we will probably only communicate once a year because the KPIs right now are only based on annual KPIs. So, as I said at the beginning, we’re hoping to get to a longer term KPIs, as well. But you’re not going to be able to see progress if we’re reporting that on a monthly basis. For example, for Financial Knowledge one of our KPIs was to get financial literacy programs in front of more than 500,000 students in Canada. So we could report on the progress that we’ve made today, but it would be more impactful to wait until the end of the year and say, “Okay, so our target was 500,000. We actually hit 750,000.” Right? Rather than a quarterly update where you might not be reaching your target yet. So once a year is my [goal].

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. Be smart about it in that way so actual progress can be shown.

Samantha: Actual progress, yeah.

Guusje: Yeah. Okay and then how we talked a little bit about the size of your team, but in general … This question comes from Kevin. “What resources are the bank dedicating to this effort?” Messaging and keeping sites up to date is a significant effort, right? And just doing it. How is the bank resourcing for that?

Samantha:  The team has changed the way that we’ve structured workload on our team. We actually have a person who’s dedicated to communications and helping us promote our progress on our KPIs. We also have another person who’s responsible for reporting. So those two work closely together, but the workload becomes a little bit different. So yeah, it’s a lot of work to maintain a website. We are obviously funding the cost of videos, for example, because we don’t have internal capabilities yet to do that. But we do have internal resources for design. And we do have internal resources for video now, which is new, that we can figure out how to tap into. And, as I said, we’re tapping into our colleagues not for their work time, but for their ideas and for the information they have that could develop a story. And then, of course, we rely on partners like thinkPARALLAX to help us write those stories and make them aligned to our tree.

Guusje: Yeah, and so I guess you’re also trying to be smart about what internal resources you can use. So it’s not all the weight of the budget and resourcing really lays on your shoulders and your department. Is that what you’re trying to do?

Samantha:  It does. It comes a lot … It’s still on our shoulders, but how we’re set up to work together is very different from how we were set up a year ago. And I think that will continue to evolve, as well, as we continue to work through what’s working and what’s not. We haven’t got to a point yet because we haven’t added the second wave of content to figure out if there are things that are working or stories that are more compelling than others, right? So those are also … Maybe by next year, we’re not adding seven more stories. Maybe it’s just four because those are the most impactful.

Guusje:  Yeah.

Samantha:  We’re still doing a test and learn, but resources … I think anyone in CSR knows that resources are always an issue.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s why that question comes up, right? Typically small teams, smaller budgets. It’s a big deal. And then you’re going to try to measure how impactful those stories are through web analytics, I’m sure, and those kinds of tools.

Samantha: Yeah.

Guusje:  Yeah, yeah. I have another question here from Goff or Geoff from Telus. “How are you measuring the effectiveness of your strategy with employees and external stakeholders?”

Samantha:  Good question Geoff. So, again, that goes back to we have KPIs for our priorities, but we also set KPIs to measure our own success. So there are some obvious ones like web stats and internal engagement measurements with our employees. So those are obvious. But we have quite a few KPIs to help us measure that. What we don’t have a measurement for, so Geoff if you have a suggestion, is how to measure the success with customers. That would be great because the only way we can really understand how we’re impacting that is actually through some of the reporting. And that’s not a straight line connection to customers and how we’re resonating. We can … other than web traffic, and emails, and engagement with investor relations. It’s not a straight line. So if you have some advice on that, I would welcome it.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah. So please share it with us Geoff if you do. And I think it’s really interesting that you said that you also set KPIs for your own team like how do you measure success, and so that’s important as well.

I have here a question from Tyler and the question is, “What role did Scotiabank’s leadership – the CEO and board – play in the development of the framework Better Future, Better Off, and how were they involved in the launch and rollout of the strategy?”

Samantha: So we have a Governance Committee of the board that has oversight for CSR. So we shared with them. I would say that was more of an advisory position where we would share with them what our plans were, and of course if they have concerns with that, they raise it. But we don’t engage them on the day to day task of building that framework. For when we launched it, we had a message from the CEO that went out to all the employees. And also, of course, there’s a letter from the CEO in our CSR report annually, and there’s a letter from the Chairman of the Board annually. So they’re part of the process, and they’re engaged, but they’re not doing the heavy lifting of the developing part, but they definitely help us amplify. So it was great actually to have Brian speak to the employees via our internal channels on our launch day and talk about CSR, and our new strategy and framework.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s wonderful. So then people see that it comes from leadership, as well, which helps of course too. Right?

Samantha: Yes. So then, of course, some of those priority areas are things that are important to him as well. So he might not speak to them in the terms of a priority for the bank, but he talks about them as an area of focus for the business. And the groups that are working on different strategy initiatives, they’ll be working on those things too. There’s lots of ways that it gets full attention of the top of the house.

Guusje: Yeah. That’s great. Real synergy between them. That’s wonderful. I have here another question from Omar. It is, “How is brand leadership building up from this renewed CSR communication strategy? How is the brand being perceived? And is there any reputational edge for this industry competitors?”

Samantha: Great questions. I would say that … So we do a few different kinds of brand studies. One of them comes out in April, so that was too early to give us results for the new strategy. Obviously we’ll see if there was a big impact in the next cycle, which will be next April. There’s also a reputational study. Again, we don’t have results for that yet. We’re still too early in the journey. Again, April was kind of our launch date and we’re only July, so we don’t have enough, but there’s lots of pieces in place where we’re going to be able to measure that, but we don’t have results yet.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah.

Samantha: I can always come and tell you what the results are.

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha:  I can tell you that our website traffic is up. And I can tell you that our engagement internally with CSR is way up already. But I don’t have stats from research yet.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) Okay. That’s wonderful. And I think this question from Nicole ties into that a little bit. “How are you measuring employee engagement success?”

Samantha: So, again, setting metrics on that. We have a new platform, as I said, it’s a Facebook place for work. I’m terrible at those, so I can’t remember what it’s called ever. I just call it Facebook for Work. Then we also have our internal platform for Scotiabank Live. We are using statistics that the organization uses to understand how people are engaging on those. They’re both social media platforms. Are they reading content? Are they just scanning through? Or scrolling through? Are they connecting on stories and videos? So we’re using that platform in the same way we’re using our external communications. So we’re trying to use videos, and tweets, and Facebook-like posts, and those kinds of things to trigger people to either go and learn more or watch a video. So, again, it’s just trying … We’re playing in the sandbox to see what’s resonating with the right audience.

Guusje:  Mm-hmm (affirmative) Yeah, yeah. But there you can measure already a little bit. You can measure the success on an ongoing basis.

Samantha:  An ongoing basis. And, as I said, all the measurements are up on internal channels.

Guusje: That’s wonderful. That’s early success. Really.

Samantha: Yay!

Guusje:   Let me see if there’s any other good questions here. I have here another question and it is, “What were the challenges of coming up with priorities, specific KPIs?”

Samantha:  Excellent question. Well, so I think I did mention when we talked about it. We started last year with setting directional KPIs. So those are not very meaningful, but it’s a great place to start. If you can’t get the business clients to buy into a target, then you talk about directional KPIs because of course all our business clients want everything to go in a positive direction anyways. So in this year’s report, we talked about how we met or didn’t meet those directional targets. Then we also set specific targets. Again, as I said, we’d like to have longer term targets, but you have to bring everyone along on your journey-

Guusje:   Yeah.

Samantha: So even if you have to do certain things right away, you have to encourage people to understand why you want to set those targets. And why there’s a value to doing that. So I think that next year’s report will reflect a longer term target and also, hopefully, we’ll have different kind of KPIs as well. And there’s a lot of things that we put in place with KPIs because we could measure them today. And a lot of things that we would like to be measuring, so we put things in place so we could start measuring them. And then we could set targets next year, so that we know how to measure them. So it’s-

Samantha: It’s part of the journey.

Guusje:  Yeah. I think that’s a great tip, actually, that you said that if it’s hard to get buy-in on actual targets, that you set directional KPIs is very helpful because I feel that once it’s not as set in stone yet, but people start to get used to it. And then by the time you really make them targets, people are like, “Okay. Let’s go for it.”

Samantha: People go for it

Guusje: Yeah.

Samantha: It’s not any different than your disclosure reporting, right? So you can do the CDP every year, and you can submit to TGSI every year, but if you’re trying to actually improve your score, or be comparative to your peers, or exceed your peers and be a leader on an index or whatever, then you have to challenge your thinking and you have to make progress on areas that might be … Those might be hard conversations, but you have to demonstrate why there’s value to do the business in doing that. And that’s how you get buy-in.

Guusje:  Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. That’s great. Good, well we have about five more minutes, so if there’s anybody else who likes to have any urgent questions, I will keep … Let me see … I’ve covered quite a bit of them already. Actually Geoff mentioned that he would like to connect offline, so we’ll see how we can make that work.

Samantha: Excellent. [Thanks} Geoff.

Guusje: Yeah. Help each other out, right?

Samantha: Yes. Definitely.

Guusje: Yeah, yeah. Good. Well, I think we have really covered a lot of great questions, and I think you’ve really given us a good peek into a complex kitchen of how to go from the what to the why at a really large bank and organizations as yours. I think your passion and enthusiasm for it really helps, too. So it’s really wonderful to have you share this with all of us. And for you participants, thank you so much for being here. With us. If you want to connect offline, please feel free. Let me go to … Actually, there’s one more screen with our contact information. Please do feel free to reach out to us with any questions, or comments, or feedback. We are really happy to hear that. And then, Sam, especially to you. Really thank you so much for-

Samantha: Thank you for having me.

Guusje: Yeah. For doing this with me. It was really fun and insightful. Even though I know a lot about your organization and your journey, I still learned more. So thank you so much.

Samantha: Great.

Guusje: Yeah. We’ll of course touch base really soon, and everybody else thank you very much and have a really good day or evening, wherever you are on the world. And then see you next time.

Samantha: Thank you.

Guusje: Thanks. Bye.