Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility at The Nigerian Stock Exchange

By: Olumide Orojimi, Head, Corporate Communications, The Nigerian Stock Exchange Jun 2019

At The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE or the Exchange), CSR means Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility. Our approach to CSR ensures that the NSE adopts a holistic programme in creating sustainable value, leveraging its unique position at the centre of Africa’s largest economy.

In 2014, NSE developed a robust corporate sustainability and responsibility strategy with the ultimate goal of entrenching sustainability into our day-to-day operations, in order to effectively manage risks and leverage business opportunities. The CSR strategy was developed to ensure we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards, while intensifying our efforts to support the integration of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) imperatives in the Nigerian capital market. With this strategy, NSE has implemented key initiatives across our four strategic pillars namely Marketplace, Workplace, Community and Environment.

Leading sustainable economic change

Through the Marketplace pillar, the Exchange works to foster the growth of long-term sustainable finance and improve the adoption of ESG performance indicators amongst listed companies. We have achieved a number of significant milestones through strategic collaborations with the government and the private sector. We launched the first certified Sovereign green bond from an African country, and helped develop a savings bond that promotes inclusiveness in the fixed income market. Earlier this year, we released the NSE Sustainability Disclosure Guidelines (“The Guidelines”) to guide listed companies on sustainability reporting. We leveraged our partnership with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to launch The Guidelines at a Sustainability Reporting Implementation Workshop organised for listed companies and other industry stakeholders. The Exchange has been issuing its own sustainability report in accordance with GRI standards since 2015.

A great place to work

As part of the Workplace pillar, the NSE continues to embrace initiatives that value employee diversity and well-being while harnessing their talents and skills. To improve employee engagement and morale, the NSE established an Activity Centre comprising of an in-house crèche that provides free support to nursing parents up to when their child is 18 months old. The Exchange also introduced paternity leave for male employees, equipped a gym to engender well-being, and introduced healthy meal options at the office cafeteria. In addition to the 1:2 female to male ratio among NSE staff, the Exchange achieved a 27% female gender representation on its National Council, the highest decision making body of the Exchange. The Exchange continues to maintain equal pay across genders and makes conscious decisions to promote mentorship and sponsorship to accelerate female employees’ fair chance at occupying senior positions on merit.

Making a positive impact our communities

Our Community pillar focuses on driving a positive societal impact in education, health and financial literacy. In 2017, the Exchange donated the Maisandari Alamderi Model Nursery and Primary School to the government of a North-Eastern Nigerian state, where education infrastructure has been severely affected by insurgency. Through this initiative, the NSE is helping to change the educational outcomes of over 300 children from internally displaced communities by providing robust technology driven by world-class education solutions. NSE is committed to providing an additional annual donation of about $30,000 to further strengthen academics over the next three years.

Implementing financial literacy programmes to bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical knowledge is a critical aspect of our CSR strategy. The Exchange promotes financial literacy through the annual NSE Essay Competition, Global Money Week (GMW) and the X-tours, a specialised interactive session that includes excursions to the NSE facility, which is open to students from high school to post-graduate colleges, as well as professionals that desire financial literacy knowledge. For the 2018 GMW, we imparted financial literacy knowledge to over 45,000 students. The NSE Essay Competition, which rewards financial knowledge and writing skills among secondary school students, is now in its 19th year and has inspired over 67,000 young people in more than 12,000 schools across Nigeria since its inception. Winners of the competition receive scholarships and equity investments while their school receives computers and printers.

In 2014, the Exchange instituted the annual NSE Corporate Challenge, a highly competitive and fun-filled 5-kilometre walking, jogging and running competition designed to raise awareness and funds to support the fight against cancer. More than 2,800 runners from over 150 companies have participated in the Corporate Challenge, which has generated over 44 million impressions across various social media platforms.

Promoting environmental sustainability across the Exchange

The Exchange is always seeking innovative ways to reduce its environmental footprint. One such recent engagement was with RecyclePoints for the collection and recycling of waste materials generated at our corporate head office. The partnership with RecyclePoints’ Corporate Recycling Program builds on our internal workplace recycling initiative, which was launched in 2013. By sorting waste and promoting recycling of reusable items, The NSE hopes to invigorate a circular economy.

Delivering sustainable value

The United Nations estimates that developing countries are faced with a funding gap of $2.5 trillion per year to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Our approach to CSR underpins the importance of promoting sustainable business practices in our markets as a factor in positioning the private sector as actors in achieving the SDGs. These initiatives have contributed to the NSE’s recent award as an Outstanding Invaluable Company for CSR in Nigeria from the Rotary International District Lagos District. Prior to this award, the NSE has received the CSR Company of The Year from African Business in New York, the CSR Company of the Year for Education by Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) two times over, and the Corporate Achievement Award to a Financial Institution at the inaugural annual Financial Literacy Excellence (FILEX) Awards.