Poalim Turns Ecofriendly and Health Conscious

Bank Hapoalim has just published its environmental sustainability report for 2007, detailing the bank's efforts to economize and become more environmentally friendly.

The report states that Hapoalim has been implementing paper-saving measures for years, but last year the bank extended its environmental awareness campaign to biodegradable garbage and non-toxic ink: From now on hot drinks at the bank will be served in cardboard cups printed with water-based ink. Hapoalim's 11,225 employees and external workers use about 3 million cups a year.

The bank has also launched a marketing campaign for its e-mail information services, initially offering to plant a tree for every client who switched to receiving e-mail messages, and has lately begun offering gift certificates of NIS 50 to clients who register for this service.

According to the report, over 100,000 clients now receive this service. This means that Hapoalim has planted over 100,000 trees (which will certainly help offset the paper usage for the 188-page environmental sustainability report). The bank has reduced the number of pages of statements and notices sent to clients by over 67% - from 93 million down to 30 million, and is planning to trim that figure by a further 9 million in 2009. Hapoalim recycled 1.17 tons of paper in 2007, up from 986 tons in 2006.

All the washrooms at Hapoalim branches are outfitted with special valves in the taps and dual-quantity toilet tanks, to conserve water, and the bank is planning to offer to install the water-conserving valves in employees' homes at a discounted price.

Plans for 2009 include setting employees' work station computers to shut down automatically, which will save the bank some NIS 3 million in electricity costs, and introducing green construction principles to new buildings and renovations.

Another subject addressed by the report is Hapoalim's adherence to equal opportunity hiring and employee conditions. In 2007 the percentage of women in managerial positions at the bank rose to 47%, and women account for 64% of all Hapoalim employees. This equal opportunity principle has also been extended to the bank's board of directors, to which controlling shareholder Shari Arison has appointed a few of her female colleagues, including Efrat Peled and Iris Dror.

Last year bank chairman Danny Dankner quit smoking, and now Hapoalim's future plans include courses to help employees kick the habit.

In the customer services and new products department, Hapoalim plans to hold 200 financial planning seminars and launch a new kind of bank account for young families.