Setting an example - Social responsibility of a bank and an aid organisationAt first glance a bank and an aid organisation would appear to work in two different
worlds. However, they converge in the field of social
responsibility. We conducted an interview with Thomas Müller, CEO of Bank CIC
(Switzerland), and former Federal Councillor Samuel Schmid, President of
When an aid organisation and a bank get together, the first thing is to shed some light on the social background. Compared internationally, Switzerland is a very affluent country. Nevertheless, here as well the gap between the rich and poorer layers of society has been widening further in recent years. What does this mean for you?
Thomas Müller: As a bank with around 300 employees we are part of society. I believe that Switzerland has for many decades been striving to guarantee a good and well-functioning social balance so that as far as possible everyone can share in the prosperity. We are a medium-sized enterprise with roots in Switzerland for 100 years and benefit from the good underlying social conditions. Part of our self-conception involves sharing our success and supporting people who have a hard lot in our society.
On the other hand, the impression I had from some players in the financial industry in recent years was that they were living on another planet.
Thomas Müller: This perception could be regarded as justified criticism in some individual cases, but not just in relation to the world of finance. As a regionally anchored bank we are aware that we form part of Switzerland as a business location and are rooted in this. We need well-educated employees and therefore depend on a globally leading education system. We also need an efficient infrastructure, political stability, legal security and many other government and social benefits. This is available to us in Switzerland and we can therefore develop well as a bank. We are grateful for this and consider it an honourable task to support those who have not been as fortunate or who encounter difficult situations due to strokes of fate such as illnesses or accidents. This is in line with our values that we foster at our bank and that we also practice by providing aid for the needy in Switzerland.
Mr Schmid, how come you as President of Winterhilfe have got together with a bank after the reputation of the financial industry has repeatedly reached new lows in recent years?
Samuel Schmid: First of all I would like to point out that it is true that there have been and still are excesses both in the financial industry and elsewhere. People get above themselves and lose contact with the rest of the working world that is part of the same economy. However, this may not be allowed to belie the fact that most of those who manage an enterprise or assume positions of responsibility are aware of their social responsibility. I am therefore pleased that in view of the options open to it, Bank CIC (Switzerland) has decided to make a contribution to society since every society has its fringe groups that need our support.
The interview was carried out by Georg Lutz and published in kmuRUNDSCHAU 2/2013.
Read the full interview (PDF)