Despite the pandemic, Santander Bank Polska did not slow down in its activities which help our clients to be socially responsible or to implement a long-term strategy of supporting the necessary ecological and environmental changes. Among such activities I can mention offering, as the first institution in Poland, financial solutions based on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) or SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) principles. These include green bonds, ESG-linked loans or interest rate volatility hedging transactions based on sustainable development principles, i.e. green IRS. We are also involved in financing the largest wind and solar farms in the country, actively supporting the development of RES. In 2020, we financed projects supporting the development of renewable energy worth a total of PLN 146 million.
In addition to customer support, we have also taken internal initiatives to significantly reduce our own environmental footprint. We have done this by switching fully to green energy, replacing our fleet with hybrids and phasing out plastic bottles from our branches and replacing them with filtered water. As a result, we now use 7 tons less plastic annually. We have also significantly reduced the use of paper at our head office and branches. This is due to changes in procedures and processes, which enabled us to send electronic documents to our customers, as well as to eliminate paper documentation in favour of digital archiving.
Alongside climate-related activities, our long-term strategy, based on the principles of responsible banking, also calls for particular attention to the integration of people at risk of exclusion from the financial market, such as seniors or persons with disabilities, within the framework of inclusive banking. To this end, we tailor our offer to the needs of different groups and support internal and external educational projects. In the past year, we focused on protecting our customers from falling out of the financial market due to financial distress caused by COVID-19. We developed Good Practices for Vulnerable Customer Service, an information website for customers with credit repayment problems and resources for advisors. Our activities have been recognised with such distinctions and awards as Polityka’s Golden CSR Leaf or second place in the Responsible Companies Ranking organised by Koźmiński Business Hub.
Concern for our employees was also very important in 2020. In the first months of last year, our primary focus was to ensure security, especially for front-line employees serving customers in branches, and to enable a large part of the organization to transition to remote working. We remained in constant contact with the organization. On a quarterly basis, we conducted, among others, Employee Experience surveys (the so-called employee NPS), in which we asked about the expectations and needs of employees. Based on that, we set up four task groups (hot spots) which worked on addressing the most important issues for employees. The bank also focused on transparent communication, employee development, building a diverse and inclusive work environment and a feedback culture. We also continued our leader transformation program, strengthening their management competencies, especially during the pandemic when a large number of leaders had no direct contact with their teams.