There is a reason why Bank of Guam is called the People’s Bank—way before Corporate Social Responsibility became a part of nearly every company’s mission—and that core value lies at the very heart of the bank’s raison d›être.
According to Jacqueline A. Marati, senior vice president, chief Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility officer, Bank of Guam was founded for the purpose of doing good for our islands and region.
The bank’s founder, Jesus S. Leon Guerrero, recognized nearly 50 years ago that islanders have varying needs that were not being met and he wanted to help people by addressing that need, Marati said.
She pointed out that, even from the start, Bank of Guam was already practicing Corporate Social Responsibility, providing financial empowerment and inclusion, emphasizing the importance of protecting our environment, and raising education and healthcare awareness for the community.
“In a word, it formed the genesis for our founding and, with that genesis, we realized that CSR was a journey, not a destination, and that our goal was progress and transparency,” she said.
In 2018, Bank of Guam’s leadership realized the importance of formalizing the company’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility, Marati said, and formally created CSR within the bank’s communications department because of the strategic importance of this focus, as well as to be able to communicate commitment and accountability. “To be clear, at Bank of Guam, [Corporate Social Responsibility] is everyone’s responsibility,” she added.
Marati said their CSR programs and projects were not compiled on a whim. “We provide CSR training, examples, and sharing. We have planned for and witnessed a growth of departmental and branch-led projects, which is what we encouraged and had hoped would happen.”
On top of that, Bank of Guam has also identified what it calls “Community Changemakers” within their ranks. Marati said these are bank employees who have taken the lead in sustainable farming, foster family support and at-risk families, and stray animal adoption, among other initiatives. “One of our goals…is to have employees initiate projects that they believe are meaningful to them,” she said.
Marati explained that teamwork within Bank of Guam plays a large part in their vision of CSR. Everyone who wants to help the community can translate that into reality. “We are empowering employees to decide what matters to them and organizing outreaches and contributions in their communities. They are volunteering their time for many projects such as financial empowerment, environmental cleanup, food security/gardening, food and meal donations and stray animal projects. …We have measured our volunteer hours, weight of goods donated and even the weight of the trash we collected here [in] Guam,” she said.
Marati said that Bank of Guam’s CSR outreach never stopped during the pandemic, pivoting to virtual outreaches as well as socially distant and safe person-to-person projects. “We conducted financial empowerment lessons in schools and communities. We continued to have employee drives for food, [personal protective equipment], and supplies. We delivered support (meals and supplies) to healthcare workers and even organized a 2021 March Founder’s Day of Giving network in which we did major cleanups throughout all the islands on a single day,” she added.
Marati assured that Bank of Guam’s CSR is not a “calendar” event or activity but is part of the bank’s core existence. “CSR lives daily for Bank of Guam, and is not limited to a day or week or even month. While we saw it grow pre-pandemic and certainly now, we have initiated convenient and safe outreaches to assist our community. The needs of the underserved remain a deeply important focus for us, pandemic or not,” she said.
“Listening to our community has been the hallmark of our presence. While face-to-face impact is desirable, we continue to listen and reach out when it is safe and when we can. But we have also learned to pivot to digital and virtual outreaches as our community has also adapted to other channels of connection. We continue to reach out to non-profits and village leaders and consistently listen to what their current and future needs are. We make adjustments as their needs change,”Marati added.