Our responsible business strategy

Provident Financial’s CR strategy of operating our business of lending to our customers in a responsible manner and acting responsibly and sustainably in all other stakeholder relationships is a key aspect of the Group’s purpose.

Our purpose and strategic drivers

Our purpose, first and foremost, is about ensuring that we provide our customers, many of whom are not well served by other lenders, or are excluded by them altogether, with the credit products that meet their particular needs and deliver fair outcomes to them throughout their journeys with us. We do this by responsibly providing our customers with sustainable and appropriate amounts of credit, maintaining close contact with them throughout the term of their loan and supporting them sympathetically if they experience difficulties. Our purpose is also about building sustainable relationships with all our other key stakeholders, whether they are our colleagues, suppliers or people from the many communities we serve. This means that, in addition to lending in a responsible manner to our customers, we will focus on creating an inclusive and engaging workplace for our colleagues, supporting our purpose through the activities of our Social Impact Programme, responding to climate change, treating our suppliers fairly, engaging with the investment community on our approach to CR and being a responsible taxpayer.

Materiality assessment

In accordance with sustainability reporting best practice, we also continue to engage with our stakeholders to ensure that we manage and report on the CR issues that matter most to them and our business. We do this by undertaking materiality assessments at least every two years to identify and prioritise the CR issues that are material to the Group. This exercise helps to inform our purpose and CR strategy, and ensures that our CR Reports respond to the interests of our stakeholders and comply with the Global Reporting Initiative’s G4 reporting guidelines. Our most recent materiality assessment undertaken in early 2019 was, as in previous years, carried out by the independent sustainability management consultancy Corporate Citizenship. The issues that were identified as a result of the materiality assessment exercise have been plotted on the matrix that is set out below. Alternatively, download Engaging with our Stakeholders from this year's CR report.

Clearly issues such as responsible lending practices, customer satisfaction and customer care, financial wellbeing and customer vulnerability continue to be priorities for the Group given what we do as a business. This is why we, in the day-to-day running of our business, place such emphasis on ensuring that we responsibly provide our customers with the credit products that meet their particular needs and deliver fair customer outcomes throughout their journey with us, whilst supporting their financial wellbeing and inclusion. The exercise also underlines how important issues such as environmental protection and equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) have become to a business like ours.

You can read more about what we are doing to lower our environmental impact, and the work we are doing to support vulnerable customers, in our Corporate Responsibility report.

To read more about our CR strategy, please download the Responsible business strategy section of our CR Report.

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.