Over the past century, First Bank, West Africa’s pioneer financial services group has made substantial contribution to national growth and development through growing businesses and other social initiatives.
Last week Wednesday, the bank, which had remained a dominant financial institution, began its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Week, a programme focused on giving, empowering students and raising national consciousness on kindness and values.
The bank principally dedicated the week to re-ignite moral values through what it called SPARK- Staff Promoting Acts of Random Kindness, a values-based initiative aimed at entrenching a return to values in Nigerian society, which appear to be eroding fast. This must be worrisome to any nation. What the bank is therefore preaching is a reorientation of the society along the right values of kindness that does not necessarily have to be monetary but would go a long way in creating a better society of respect, tolerance and less corruption.
Moral values are foundations of any society and when pillars of moral values are missing, what the society witnesses are corruption, stealing, killings, rape and other social misbehaviours that create chaos. It is also worrisome when the youth who are suppose to be leaders of tomorrow are also enmeshed in anti-moral behaviours. This is why the First Bank’s message in its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability week is crucial, and this should also be imbibed by other organizations that desire orderliness for business to thrive.
Under the First Bank SPARK programme, employees of the 120- year old bank which is still well built and a top brand, empowered old people and the less privileged during its annual CSR week. The week was basically a culmination of the bank’s CSR interventions.
The week which is Being marked in First Bank’s business communities across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria and First Bank subsidiaries in United Kingdom and sub-Saharan Africa (DRC, Ghana, Guinea, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Senegal) is an amplification of the Bank’s Employee Giving & Volunteering Programme and a reflection of First Bank’s brand promise to always put its customers first while it reinforces the Bank’s role in driving sustainable development in the communities where it operates.
One of the key activities for the week include visits and giving to Orphanages /IDPs by the volunteers of the Bank. The objective, according to the bank officials is to be a part of a global movement for fostering good in its communities on a scale that has never been seen or done before. This would further entrench the Bank’s tradition of community support and make a difference in the society. “Homes visited in Lagos include Old Peoples’ Home Yaba; Down Syndrome Foundation of Nigeria, Surulere, Lagos.”
The employees also embarked on Career Counseling Day, an initiative expected to drive the agenda of the CRS week. “The Career Counseling Day is an opportunity to showcase the Bank’s commitment to empowering the youth segment and demonstrate that the bank’s CRS programmes are beyond charitable giving. The Career Counseling initiative is part of the Bank’s Future First programme, which is a unique programme aimed at ensuring the youth of the Nation are financially independent through fulfilling careers and the right financial knowledge. Future First programme is structured to equip students with the tools and knowledge to make effective and informed financial management decisions towards a long-term financial independence.
The key objectives of the Career Counseling , the bank said are to help students better understand how businesses are organized and operated; to help students develop critical thinking, speaking, and leadership skills and be able to demonstrate the rewards of the free enterprise system and to guide students to make the right career choices. The Career day had been held in some schools already. The bank listed the schools as Girls Senior Academy, Lagos Island; Methodist Girls, Harbour Road, Port Harcourt; Government science technical college Garki; Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan.
According to the Bank’s Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Folake Ani-Mumuney, the CSR week was mooted to stimulate a better society with random acts of kindness. “As an institution, we want to encourage the values of random kindness and we implore Nigerians and indeed everyone to go the extra mile to promote and celebrate kindness this week. Kindness does not have to be monetary but would always leave us with a better society we can all be proud of”, she enthused.
“First Bank has contributed to all aspects of nation building since 1894 when it was established. We believe there’s currently a deficit in our moral values and given the Bank’s historical role in developing the nation, it should be at the forefront in reigniting the moral values. It’s important to raise people that choose to do the right thing”, she said.
“This act of promoting kindness was the reason FBN held its maiden Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability week with the theme “Promoting Acts of Kindness,” which according to Ismail Omamegbe, Head, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability First Bank, is targeted at reawakening the bank’s value system as a people”.
It is expected that with a career talk like this, students will be able to follow their career path because often time students just follow their mates into different departments but when you expose them to things like this they are able to know their area of strength and what their weaknesses are. So, FBN action is a laudable act capable of creating reasonable impact in the entire school and the students, which will then help them focus their attention and make it in life.
It is noteworthy that First Bank with its cherished heritage has continually been a market leader, while maintaining strict adherence to corporate governance practices. First Bank is the recipient of many awards. The bank has been named “The Best Bank Brand in Nigeria” five times in a row – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 – by the globally renowned “The Banker Magazine” of the Financial Times Group. First Bank’s brand purpose is to always put its stakeholders, customers and partners at the heart of its business, even as it is poised to standardize customer experience and excellence in financial solutions across Sub Saharan Africa, in consonance with its brand vision “To be the partner of first choice in building your future”. The brand promise is to always deliver the ultimate “gold standard” of value and excellence. This commitment is anchored on the First Bank’s inherent values of passion, partnership and people, to position its customers first in every respect.
“The rationale to continually stand out as a bank of high repute having spanned decades and also to protect the valued trust reposed in us is highly important to us”, the management said. First Bank’s compelling reputation for stability and growth over its 125-year history coupled with balance sheet strength, strong liquidity/cash position, wide and strategic branch network, robust retail market share puts the bank on a sound footing among competitors”
The messages of the Bank in its Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability week especially society reorientation in moral values and Career Counseling are campaigns other organizations should emulate. This is with the understanding that a better society and building mutually beneficial relationships with communities and stakeholders would in turn rub off on such organizations. First Bank employees deserve commendation on this Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability week initiative.
Daniel Obi and Seyi John Salau