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The catchphrase of the 1980s was 'Greed is good'. Times have changed, however, and today's catchphrase is 'Green is good'. Driven by problems such as greenhouse gas emissions and the depleting ozone layer, a new environmental awareness has arisen, urging a shift away from the old notion of profit at any cost and replacing it with concern for the future and corporate social responsibility.
It is no longer good enough to chase short-term profits. Business success requires consideration of a company's place in the wider world. To achieve long-term sustainability, a business must respect the needs of its employees, customers, shareholders, and its local community. This can all be summed up with Westpac's motto: 'Every generation should live better than the last.'
Founded in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales, Westpac is Australia's oldest bank. It helped establish, and was also the first Australian bank to adopt, the Equator Principles, a framework for managing social and environmental risk of large projects. You may have seen Westpac's television advertisement, the image of the oil-covered, shivering penguin; the acknowledgement that some of the biggest problems in the world today have been funded by banks.
By adopting the Equator Principles, Westpac commits to providing loans only to socially responsible projects that do not harm the environment.
There is another advertisement with which you may be familiar. For the fifth year running, Westpac has been identified as the most sustainable bank in the world. This is according to the worldwide Dow Jones Sustainability Index. This index ranks sustainability leaders. Westpac also has headed Australia's Corporate Sustainability Index for each of the four years of its existence. Like its international counterpart, the index assesses the systems that companies use to address social and environmental matters.