Background

Businesses throughout the world today are measured and assessed using what is known as the '3D Bottom Line', or people, planet, profit - a method that evaluates not just a firm's success in financial terms but also the level of its engagement with society and the community and its commitment to our environment.

Social responsibility is the embedding of social, environmental and ethical values in all aspects of a firm's business. It is an ethical business practice covering everything above and beyond legal requirements - 'above and beyond compliance, and considers the interests of all those parties it comes into contact with in society: clients, shareholders, business partners, suppliers, employees, government and local authorities, competitors, and, in particular, people with learning disabilities and the environment.

The prevailing approach in Israel today is that embedding social, environmental and ethical values in a firm's conduct of its business affairs not only helps improve society and the quality of life but can reinforce client and employee trust[1], strengthen the firm's reputation, and drive the success of its business[2].

An organization that incorporates social responsibility into its business practices is giving expression to a progressive management culture and a business strategy at the center of which is the assumption that caring for the environment and engaging with society is a practice that is beneficial to all sides (a win - win partnership that the organization and society both benefit from at the same time).

Responsibility

This policy sets out the corporate strategy of IBI Investment House which calls for the adopting of a responsible policy towards society at large. At the heart of this is the belief that incorporating a degree of social responsibility into the conduct of our business can engender significant social change in Israel and also contribute to the expansion of our business in the long term.

Social objectives

Central to our approach is the belief that every business should engage with the community it operates in and contribute its particular area of expertise. As an investment house, the area where we can be most effective in Israel is in education and money management and also mentoring and business skills coaching for underprivileged people - providing a rod and tackle rather than just handing out fish. We endeavor to forge long - term partnerships with organizations but at the same time we recognize that certain organizations only need assistance once throughout their life cycle. Although our social involvement is focused as a rule on organizations we nonetheless adhere to the spirit of the principle that 'saving a life is like saving the universe' and also attempt to create job and career opportunities for individuals.

Looking ahead, we intend to go beyond merely contributing money and time and will seek to forge long - term strategic partnerships with social enterprises and charities. Employees will have the option of getting involved with whichever cause is of particular interest to them and will have the full support of managers at all levels to pursue such activity during work hours.

Both the partnerships we intend to forge in the future and the ones we already have (and which we intend to build on) are intended to promote the following core objectives:

  • Promote economic and social justice in Israel
  • Reduce socio - economic inequality in Israeli society
  • Promote equal rights and equal opportunities in the State of Israel
  • Provide mentoring and support for disadvantaged and vulnerable children and youth
  • Support and strengthen access to education, sport and culture
  • Work for a greener environment

Framework plan

For the past few years we have been involved with and have supported the following projects and activities:

  • Charities and organizations working for greater social integration of minorities and disadvantaged people
  • Voluntary distribution of food to poor people in Tel Aviv twice a year before the Passover and New Year holidays
  • A charity caring for youth with learning difficulties
  • Purchase of gifts for all occasions from a charity employing low income retired people
  • A charity caring for at - risk youth
  • A financial mentoring program for women

At the same time, we have been working to expand the above activities by endorsing employee - led initiatives and putting them into practice. We support social ventures put forward by employees that are consistent with the values and general criteria set out by the board of directors. Such support can be in the form of either time off work to pursue the venture in question or a matching contribution according to a scale approved by the board.

Another way in which we contribute is by harnessing existing practices in support of our philanthropic endeavors. Thus, for example, gifts for clients are sourced from social enterprises and charitable organizations (such as charities that employ disabled people whose income comes from the goods they make and sell).

Dedicated resources

Organized volunteering - As mentioned earlier our volunteering is supported and encouraged by management at all levels. Our senior management has authorization from the IBI board to create an annual calendar with the hours allocated to volunteering by employees[3].

Donations - To achieve our social objectives, a budget for donations is set aside every year[4]. The amount earmarked for donations each year is set by the board in accordance with the success of our business.

Employee involvement

We believe that if we want to maintain the unique atmosphere and ethos that exists within the IBI group and embed our values across all our stakeholders, it is hugely important that the existing sense of purpose that our employees share with respect to our business is also felt in our approach to charitable giving, engagement and volunteering. Accordingly, we believe the company should partner with employees and help them implement and expand their involvement in social causes.

To be able to embed our social responsibility policy and achieve the objectives referred to above, it is vital that everyone within our organization, including the board, senior and middle management, is fully committed to the process. Only by collaborating fully across the organization will we be able to deliver meaningful outcomes for our business and for society at large.

Social responsibility team

We have a staff team in charge of embedding social responsibility policy and this team has now been in place for a number of years. Once a year the team reviews the ideas and initiatives that employees have put forward and chooses the most suitable of these in accordance with the criteria agreed between staff and management and approved by the company board.

Social responsibility coordinator  

The social responsibility coordinator is tasked with overseeing the delivery of our communal undertakings in accordance with our policy and coordinates our dealings with the communities we engage with.

As part of the aforementioned policy, the social responsibility supervisor prepares a social action program that is aligned with the company's overall corporate strategy, consisting of measures and quantifiable objectives; these are intended to enable us to evaluate on a year - by - year basis the effectiveness of our charitable giving and the communal projects we support.

Environmental objectives

The IBI group recognizes that our actions today impact our future environment. We are committed to responsibly managing our business so as to safeguard as far as possible our environment for the benefit of future generations. This commitment is embodied in the following three principles:

  • Economize. We undertake to act to prevent wastage of resources and promote a culture of sustainability and sensible consumption.
  • Recycle. We are committed to a proactive approach that endorses the recycling of all recyclable materials using the relevant technology such as paper, toner cartridges, drinks cans, plastic bottles and batteries.
  • Reuse. We undertake to promote the reusing of items, such as clothing, wherever these can be passed on to worthy causes.

Environmental responsibility coordinator

The environmental policy coordinator is tasked with overseeing the implementation of group policy on recycling and sustainability, keeping employees informed about company - led initiatives and reviewing suggestions for improvement of company practice. This role is currently filled by our group accountant, Shlomi Hanam.

Continuous improvement

We are committed to keeping our practices under constant quantifiable review and delivering a consistent improvement in the environmental and societal impacts of our endeavors.

Transparency

Our approach to social responsibility means that it is incumbent on us to apply proper financial reporting methods in relation to our social and environmental affairs as well. To this end, the IBI group will, at a later stage, adopt transparency and sustainability reporting principles within the spirit of the G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (GRI).

IBI will publish the results of this exercise and the data and preparation methodology will be available to anyone with an interest in this information. We will also call on all public companies to disclose their carbon footprint and to be transparent about the extent of their contribution to global warming.

Business ethics code [5]

Formulating and implementing the IBI corporate social responsibility policy is central to the ethical approach we seek to integrate in our business as a whole and has been a core component in the process of implementing standards of ethical practice.

We have therefore drawn up a business ethics code and are working to enforce it across the organization since it goes hand in hand with the program of corporate social responsibility to which we have committed ourselves.

We considered it entirely appropriate that the writing of this business ethics code should be done in house by our own employees rather than by an external party. Only by doing so have we been able to create a business ethics code that truly reflects our values and sets us apart from everyone else.

[1] 87% of employees at companies that run volunteering programs feel a greater sense of loyalty, identity and commitment to their jobs.

[2] 67% of managers in Israel feel that involvement with the community has a significant impact on the image of their business - 70% of consumers in Israel prefer a brand identifiable with a social cause. Source: Caesarea Business Park website.

[3] According to the Maala Corporate and Social Responsibility rating scale; Scores in the 'employee volunteering' category are determined by the number of employees engaging in voluntary work in relation to the total workforce, the number of hours dedicated to volunteering (whether time spent is mostly or entirely at the expense of workhours), and whether the volunteering is a regular activity or on a one - off basis. The maximum score is awarded for regular volunteering at a rate of 3 hours at a time (reference is to  the annual average per employee – total volunteer hours per annum divided by the workforce as a whole; regular - at least 5 times a year).

[4]According the Maala Corporate and Social Responsibility rating scale; Contribution at profitable public companies is measured in proportion to the pretax profit as reported in a company's consolidated financial statements (profitable company - a company earning pretax profit at rate of 5% and higher of sales). Score for each company is determined by the ratio of its profit to the mean of the three companies in the same category (listed companies) with the highest rate of contributions.

The average absolute contribution for a public company in the Maala report for 2007 was NIS 5.8mn and the proportion as a percentage of profit was 0.9%.

[5] According to the Maala Corporate Social Responsibility report for 2007 – 81% of surveyed companies have a business ethics code, compared with 69% in 2006

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