The purpose of this report is to provide a balanced account of how Provident Financial’s purpose and strategic behaviours are aligned to the Group’s responsible business strategy. Below, you will find some highlights from the past year. Please refer to the Downloads section for a full copy of our report.

Embedding our
Blueprint

Welcome to our 2019 Corporate Responsibility (CR) Report. This year, for the first time, our CR Report is being published on the same day as our 2019 Annual Report and Financial Statements. We have done this to further underline the important role that our CR programme plays in our business strategy and the long-term success of Provident Financial Group.

For the last 140 years, Provident Financial has been helping to put people on a path to a better everyday life and I am proud to say that this is our purpose and our reason for being. Despite the disruption we faced in 2019, we have made excellent progress in delivering our business strategy in accordance with our Blueprint and look forward to sharing our CR Report with you."

Malcom Le May

Chief Executive

Operating a responsible and sustainable business

This report is one of the main opportunities we have to share an open and honest account of the progress we have made in delivering our business activities in accordance with our Blueprint, while at the same time managing our sustainability impacts. It shows the areas where we have had great success, as well as highlighting challenges where we know that there is a lot more for us to do. In terms of addressing these challenges, I recognise that it will require our continued commitment and dedication. However, I know that it will enable us to deliver our vision and plans, and ensure that we help put people on a path to a better everyday life. If you have any queries about our CR programme, please do not hesitate to contact us on corporateresponsibility@providentfinancial.com"

Rob Lawson

Head of Sustainability

 

Our purpose, strategic drivers and behaviours

Work on embedding the Blueprint that we developed in 2018 began in early 2019 and continued throughout the rest of the year. Our Blueprint, which comprises our purpose; to help put people on a path to a better everyday life; our four strategic drivers; customer progression, human experiences, head AND heart decisions and fighting fit; and three behaviours; be hungry for better, put the customer on the team and act like it’s yours, is designed to help us balance delivering responsible products and services to our customers, maintaining high levels of regulatory compliance, and providing a stimulating and rewarding workplace for our colleagues, while generating appropriate, sustainable returns for our shareholders.

86%
of colleagues care about the
future of PFG
£1.45m
invested through our
Social Impact Programme
10,000
tonnes of CO2e offset
through renewable energy
53
colleagues have been trained
as Mental Health First Aiders
41%
of management representation
are female

Supporting customers by lending responsibly

Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the UK are not well served by mainstream lenders?

The Group’s core business is to provide tailored and responsible products, services and partnerships that help put our customers on a path to a better everyday life. The 2.3 million customers we are proud to serve come from all across the UK and Republic of Ireland.

The employment status of our customers can vary and, due to their personal circumstances, they can be in receipt of state support. As a result, they typically have low to average incomes. Some of them have also had to deal with significant life events such as divorce, loss of a job, long-term illness and other challenges which, given that they have low to average incomes, can occasionally cause them to fall behind with their financial commitments. This can cause their credit files to be impaired and contribute to them being underserved or totally excluded by mainstream credit providers.

We understand that offering products to people in such circumstances comes with great responsibility. 

This is why we have reviewed our Social Impact Programme, which traditionally focused on providing grants to local community organisations and charities, to include a workstream dedicated to improving the level of support we provide to our vulnerable customers, as well as our staff who are working on the front line with them.

We ensure that customer-facing staff are trained in recognising signs that might indicate a customer could be classified as ‘vulnerable’, or may be facing financial difficulty. And in 2019, we partnered with PAPYRUS to help our employees better identify customers who are having thoughts of suicide as well as implementing a programme of work with Surviving Economic Abuse, that will allow us to deliver awareness sessions on domestic and economic abuse, so that colleagues can respond empathetically and signpost customers to appropriate support.

We continue to provide financial support to the money advice sector to allow our customers to seek free and low-cost independent and personal finance advice and support.

Social impact

Our social impact strategy supports our Blueprint by addressing key barriers to financial inclusion and helping people to put people on a path to a batter everyday life. The Provident Financial Social Impact Programme delivers our social impact strategy under the following three work streams:

Our core themes

Customers

Skills for inclusion

Community partners

What we do

Invest in activities and initiatives that address key factors which may affect someone’s likelihood of being accepted for credit.

Support children, young people and adults to boost their education, skills and aspirations, in order to participate in society and secure a brighter financial future.

Support community projects in areas where people are more likely to face social and financial exclusion.

We do this through

Ensuring staff have the skills to deal with customers with additional needs as well as supporting independent financial research, money advice and financial education.

Providing support for initiatives that increase literacy levels, numeracy skills and employability of young people and adults.

Providing grants to grassroots organisations and charities through community foundations which will support local people in improving aspects of their life.

Why we do this

To ensure that our customers, as well as others who might face financial difficulty, can recognise the barriers to financial inclusion, overcome them, and secure a positive financial future for themselves.

So that we can help raise aspirations of both children and adults who live in disadvantaged communities so that they can have a better chance of having a future that sees them included in society.

To help people overcome personal difficulties that might be preventing them from feeling socially or financially included in the communities in which they live and work.

Gender pay gap

We are committed to supporting diversity and creating an open and inclusive culture where everyone feels valued. We also recognise that the Group has a key role to play in closing the gender pay gap across the financial services sector, given that it has traditionally been seen as an industry that has lacked diversity and inclusivity. Below, you will find the gender pay gap figures which cover all colleagues employed across the Group.

Provident Financial plc

Moneybarn

Cheque Exchange Limited

Provident Financial Management Services Limited

Vanquis Bank

Provident Personal Credit

Diversity & inclusion

Providing an encouraging, supportive and inclusive workplace culture is vital to the happiness of our colleagues and the sustainability of our business.

We value our colleagues because they play a key role in driving our business forward and ensuring both its short-term and long-term sustainability. Needless to say, the past few years have been challenging for many of our colleagues, so their interests and wellbeing have become more important to us than ever because, without our committed and resilient colleagues, our business would not be where it is today. We also recognise that there is a lot more we can do to support them.

In 2019, we carried out a Group-wide colleague survey because we recognised that listening to what our people have to say is a hugely

important step towards us becoming better at what we do and truly living our purpose of helping to put people on a path to a better everyday life.

We want our business to be diverse and inclusive as employing people with different skills and backgrounds will help us understand our customers’ needs and develop products and services that support them better. But more than this, having a diverse workforce means more opportunity to learn, to grow and meet people from different backgrounds – which is when people can really make a difference.

To read more about the results from our Group-wide colleague engagement survey, click the link below that will take you to the Supporting colleagues so they can be themselves chapter of our CR Report.

 

Getting to know our colleagues

PFG Know Colleagues
8%
of colleagues are from the LGBTQ+ community
43%
of colleagues have caring responsibilities
12%
of colleagues are from a BAME background

As part of our colleague engagement survey in 2019, we invited colleagues to disclose further information about themselves such as their ethnicity, their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, disability status, caring responsibilities and gender identity.

We did this to gain a broader understanding of who our colleagues are so that we could open up new dialogue, educate ourselves and give support, understanding and representation for colleagues no matter their age, sex, disability, religious beliefs, gender identity and any other characteristics that make them who they are, or may want to be.

Climate change

We recognise that reducing carbon emissions is for the whole of society and we are committed to minimising our environmental impacts as well as determining the risks climate change presents to our business and its stakeholders.

54%
reduction in our carbon
footprint against a 2015 baseline
9,468
tonnes of CO2e
emitted in 2019
10,000
tonnes of CO2e offset
through renewable energy
Doubled
the amount of waste
we recycled in one year
54%
reduction in our air
travel mileage in one year

Offsetting our carbon footprint

We continue to offset our direct operation carbon footprint. We do this by financing renewable energy projects around the world which help to mitigate the effects our operations have on our climate.

During 2020, we offset 10,000 tonnes of CO2e, which accounted for all of the Group’s operational footprint. These emissions were offset through the purchase of Verified Carbon Standard-certified carbon credits in a wind power generation project which operates across various states in India which have traditionally been reliant on fossil fuel generated electricity.

The project is playing a vital role in India’s shift towards a low carbon economy by generating electricity from a renewable resource and supplying it to the state grid. It also has a range of positive impacts and benefits by providing jobs in the local communities across India, improving the livelihoods of families employed by the project and reducing India’s reliance on energy generation from fossil fuels.

Carbon Footprint (2019)

Our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people can live in peace and prosperity. The 17 goals that make up the SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals but integrate and address new areas such as peace and justice, innovation and climate change. To achieve the targets of the SDGs, working in partnership with others is crucial. Governments, businesses and communities around the world need to commit to making changes to improve life and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come, and this is why we have decided to play a part.

We have chosen five of the SDGs to focus on where we think we can have a genuine impact. These are our ‘priority goals’: No.1 – No Poverty, No.4 – Quality Education, No.5 – Gender Equality, No.8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth and No. 10 – Reduced Inequalities. Our core focus in 2020 will be aligning our CR strategy and Blueprint with our priority goals so that the strategic drivers of our business and the everyday behaviours of our colleagues have a direct positive impact on sustainable development, improving lives of the underserved people that make up our customer base, as well as millions of others facing hardship around the world.

 

Sustainable development goals  alt= Quality education gender-equality decent work and economic growth reduced-inequalities

Targets

Lending responsibly to our customers

Finalise the dashboard of KPIs/metrics for the Provident Financial plc Board’s Customer, Culture and Ethics Committee which relate to both the delivery of good customer outcomes and the wider corporate culture agenda.

Ensuring the sustainability of our people

Ensure that there is at least 33% female representation on the Provident Financial plc Board, the Group’s Executive Committee and their direct reports.

Ensuring the sustainability of our people

Establish a network of Mental Health First Aiders across the Group.

Minimising our environmental impacts

Extend the scope of the environmental management system that is in place across the business that is certified to ISO 14001:2015 to include Moneybarn.

Investing in communities

Support the National Numeracy campaign to ensure more adults in the UK benefit from knowing how to use numbers well and develop a numeracy programme for partner schools in Bradford.

Investing in communities

Develop a consistent approach to providing money advice and enhanced customer support across all areas of the business.

Minimising our environmental impacts

Reduce our scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% compared with our 2015 baseline.

Treat our suppliers fairly

Implement a Group-wide corporate responsibility questionnaire as part of the onboarding and due diligence process of all new suppliers.

Engaging with the investment community through CR

Increase communications regarding the CR strategy and relevant updates to shareholders and potential investors.

Downloads