The ALFI CSR Journey

The ALFI CSR Journey

Building a strong foundation for the future.

Being awarded a CSR label for the fourth consecutive time is certainly an achievement to celebrate. In September 2023 ALFI, the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry, obtained the renewal of the CSR label that the National Institute for Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility (INDR) grants to organisations committed to sustainability.

Just as the financial markets have grown in complexity, the understanding, scope and breadth of corporate responsibility has been evolving over time. “Every certification renewal process brings some additional challenges” says Adina Lupu, who oversees all aspects of CSR at ALFI and has first-hand experience with every certifying process, as she handles due diligence and coordinates the ALFI CSR Committee. In truth, the activities that ALFI reports on in the evaluation to obtain the certification have become more numerous over time.

However, what is even more remarkable is the increasing integration of a business responsibility mindset into the day-to-day operations at ALFI. As in the biggest challenges in the business world, the path is never smooth and straight. It is precisely in the effort to overcome these challenges where businesses learn the most and where change becomes more permanent. That’s being also the case of ALFI’s CSR journey.

Discovering the ALFI CSR journey

Taking us some 10 years back, Adina recalls ALFI officially embarking on its CSR journey in 2014, when it obtained the CSR certification for the first time. “The information landed on my desk, and I felt it was the time to formalise our CSR actions. The management team already at the time fully supported the project, and the commitment hasn’t changed. The rest, as they say, is history.”

ALFI’s commitment to corporate responsibility dates from before 2014, though. Unofficial actions were already taking place, but “they simply weren’t called or acknowledged as corporate responsibility”, comments Adina. In fact, there was a strong focus on governance, a subject that has been one of the most important concerns on the ALFI agenda to date.

“We carried out many best practices because we thought they made sense and were in line with our principles and our role as a representative body of a sector that’s key to Luxembourg”, she adds. The nature of the association, indeed, calls for transparency, clear decision-making rules and the timely dissemination of knowledge and information.

In order for CSR initiatives to work in the long term, organisations need a strategy that, among others, defines their pillars, or what their focus will be, as well as a dedicated professional or team that takes care of the planning, execution and assessment of the CSR actions and their impact.

ALFI had to build all that”, Adina recalls. On the path to the first certification, the team reflected on the actions that had already been performed, and on others that could generate more impact. It was a way to formalises existing CSR-related actions at ALFI, and to give them proper recognition and a more accurate name.

In 2018 ALFI appointed a dedicated person responsible for its CSR actions. Since then, Adina has been in charge of the matter. One year earlier, the financial sector associations headquartered in the House of Finance had jointly created a CSR working group looking to coordinate corporate responsibility initiatives and to share good practices.

Today, ALFI’s CSR focus lies on governance and social engagement. “Although we acknowledge the undeniable importance of environmental matters, the association’s influence in this area remains relatively low. The biggest potential for impact arguably lies with ALFI events, where we are already exploring ways to maximise their sustainability and reduce their environmental impact” explains Adina.

Social engagement at the forefront

The social engagement pillar of ALFI’s CSR strategy encompasses both internal and external dimensions. Regarding the latter, an important element is the promotion of financial education across all demographics, from investors to students. ALFI is committed to enhancing the investment literacy of the general population. New investment rules encouraging people to invest and the use of online platforms or mobile applications that are making investing more accessible, underscore the growing need for a planned and coordinated strategy involving multiple stakeholders in the country.

In addition, the social engagement concerns diversity and inclusion. “We look at diversity as an employer, but also as a representative body. We continuously work on fairly representing diversity in the industry. We have recently, for example, diversified the composition of the ALFI Board of Directors– and at our numerous events, we make a point of bringing more diversity to panels, especially in terms of gender and age”.

When it comes to the internal dimension, Adina says, the goal is a proper work/life balance for the ALFI team. To that end, ALFI has implemented a flexitime policy and a teleworking policy. “We actively encourage our teams to upskill or undergo reskilling processes when there is an organisation need and the will and motivation to do it. Both need to match.” In order to achieve this goal, ALFI defines an annual budget to cover the team’s training needs.

“The focus on people, on well-being, has been there since I joined the organisation in 2011”, Adina remembers, “like when we moved to our Kirchberg headquarters looking to offer a more pleasant place to work.”

The future agenda

The CSR journey is far from over. In fact, it’s just the beginning, but ALFI now approaches it with a solid foundation. “With more ergonomic shoes”, remarks Adina, smiling.

Looking ahead, the plan is to foster a stronger, more participative stakeholders’ community.

We want to work even more closely with our stakeholders, enhance engagement among asset management professionals to create a more positive impact. Transparency and good governance will remain essential.

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Publié le mercredi 21 février 2024
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