Submitted by

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Logo of Commonwealth Bank of Australia
11/09/2023 Banking Innovation


The Commonwealth Bank of Australia developed their own tool to help Australian small businesses identify ways they can make sustainable changes in their processes, and operations, while saving costs too! The tool was built entirely by Commonwealth Bank teams - seeing multiple business units come together in rapid time to answer the urgent need for climate action!

Innovation presentation

While there are many ESG innovations and developments for institutional and large-sized business, there was almost nothing that helped support Australian small businesses. Given this cohort represents 97% of the Aussie business market, this was a huge gap and opportunity for us to make a real difference. This is the story of two very passionate teams determined to help mobilise the CommBank's businesses base into action!

The Sustainability Action Tool (SAT), delivered by CommBank’s Business Banking division, identifies practical actions that business can implement to embed sustainability into their operations, drive employee engagement on sustainability, and gain potential cost savings.

SAT is an interactive tool which supports the Group’s strategic pillar of ‘Playing a leadership role in Australia’s transition and recovery.’ This Tool was developed as a way to answer the call from our small business customers who desperately want to take action to reduce their environmental impact where possible.

Our CommBank research showed that the cost of becoming sustainable (61 per cent), finding sustainable suppliers (30 per cent) and a lack of time and resources (28 per cent) are the top pain points for SMEs seeking to embed sustainability into their business model. We also researched our customers’ attitudes towards sustainability and identified the primary barrier to action was identifying and choosing practical actions that made sense for the size of their business.

The Sustainability Action Tool is available to all CommBank customers via NetBank and the CommBank App. It uses a simple upfront questionnaire to identify the ESG focus areas that are most likely to be opportunities for customer action. The Tool streamlines existing guidance available to small business customers into ‘Action Areas’ - Energy, Transport, Waste, Product Design, Suppliers and Wellbeing. Customers are directed to suggested Action Areas based on their questionnaire results.

To help address "the cost of transition", the Tool also surfaces offers from business partners, such as Sustainability education opportunities or discounts on sustainability-related business purchases, as well as relevant CommBank products. For example, business that indicate in the questionnaire that they frequently conduct local business travel are directed to the ‘Transport’ action area that provides insight into actions aimed at operating business vehicles more efficiently and preparing to upgrade to electric vehicles.

This initiative is a collaborative effort between CommBank Business Banking’s ESG Team and the Everyday Business Banking Teams, combining their skills and knowledge of product and sustainability to develop a tool now available to all CommBank Customers.

Uniqueness of the project

This is the first tool built specifically for Australian SMEs by an Australian bank. There are many third-party tech companies coming into the marketplace, but CommBank felt strongly that we should lead the way by building this tool ourselves and embed it within our existing digital assets and under our strong ESG governance frameworks.

Also, our tool uniquely serves a social lens compared to many other "carbon footprint" tools. Our research indicated that environmental considerations go hand-in-hand with the social and mental wellbeing of employees. Through our research and qualitative testing, we identified a secondary opportunity for businesses to continue to improve the wellbeing of their employees. The tool facilitates a focus on mental health issues for small businesses, including: building a Mental Health plan and promoting government-sponsored Wellbeing training.

Finally, as part of the SAT, we developed an exclusive partnership with Givvable. Givvable provides business customers with details about supplier’s sustainability credentials. This helps small business customers make an educated decisions about their suppliers. This helps to address another pain point that we identified in the research where small business owners felt overwhelmed by all of the "ESG language" and credentials.

We feel that by deeply understanding our own Aussie customers we have created a market-leading tool that will help turn the tide on climate change. The tool has experienced strong growth since its launch with an 80% tool completion rate and a 24% MoM growth in unique users for the tool in August 2023.

The tool was developed by an all-women led team across ESG, Business and Engineering and we know that this innovation is just the beginning for how we help small Aussie businesses make real sustainable change for the future.

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