Ebenezer Onyeagwu Named “CEO of the Year” as Zenith Bank Emerges ‘Most Responsible Organisation in Africa’ at SERAS CSR Africa Awards 2021
Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank, was named CEO of the Year for the second year in a row at the Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility (SERAS) CSR Africa Awards held in Lagos over the weekend. He was chosen for a number of reasons, according to the assessors, including fostering a culture that encourages continuous investment in social activities in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Zenith Bank’s social investments totaled NGN3.285 billion in 2020 under his leadership, accounting for roughly 2% of the bank’s profit after tax.
The judges deemed him deserving of the award because of his dedication to promoting sustainability and responsible business practices in Nigeria, his frontline leadership of sustainability at Zenith Bank, which enabled best industry practices in the banking sector, and his passion for reducing carbon emissions in the Bank’s operations.
Zenith Bank Plc also emerged winner in four other categories at the SERAS CSR Africa Awards, carting home the awards for “Best Company in Reporting and Transparency”, “Best Company in Infrastructure Development”, “Best Company in Gender Equality and Women Empowerment”, and the coveted “Most Responsible Organisation in Africa”.
Zenith Bank was adjudged the Most Responsible Organisation in Africa, winning the overall best sustainability award, for its continued commitment to the tenets of Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, within its immediate community and in the society at large.
The Bank also emerged as the winner in the category for Reporting and Transparency for its consistency in disclosing and communicating its sustainability journey and progress annually vis-a-vis environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, in line with the guidelines and protocols set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Nigeria Sustainable Banking Principles (NSBP), NigerianExchange (NGX), United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The Bank also ensures the assurance of its sustainability report by reputable independent third parties. In 2021, the Bank’s 2020 sustainability report was assured by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and disseminated through the Bank’s website for the public and sent to all relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC).
The Bank was named the winner in the infrastructure development category for its nation-building initiatives and investments, which included assisting efforts to establish basic services and effective security, governance, economic, and infrastructure systems, particularly in Nigeria. The Bank supported the Lagos State Security Trust Fund with N500,000,000.00 to provide security-enhancing facilities and infrastructure, demonstrating its commitment to the development (often referred to as reform, restructuring, and rebuilding) of the Nigeria Police Force for the preservation of law and order, protection of life and property, and law enforcement in Nigeria. In addition, donations to other state security trust funds will be made.
Zenith Bank was adjudged winner in the category for the Best Company in Promotion of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment for its Z-Woman initiative, which offers credit facilities to women-owned businesses at a single-digit interest rate and for a gender-balanced workforce (Women make up about 50% of employees). During the reporting period, the number of women and women enterprises supported by the Bank, through the Z-Woman initiative, grew by 88.7%, from 391 in 2019 to 738 in 2020.
The Sustainability, Enterprise and Responsibility Awards (SERAS) is an initiative of TruCSR which celebrates and promotes investments by corporate organisations in the society through CSR and sustainability initiatives. It made its debut in 2007, and participation was opened to other countries of Africa in 2016.
The 2021 awards featured 387 projects by 97 organisations across Africa. The SERAS Jury Board consists of global thought and best-practices leaders from around the world such as Maria Sillanpaa (Finland); NyashaGwatidzo (Zimbabwe); AdesuwaOnyenokwe (Nigeria); AmjedAchour (Morocco); Charles Ojei (Nigeria); Ellen Gunning (Ireland); Gina Din-Kariuki (Kenya); Indira Kartallozi (England); Lampe Omoyele (Nigeria); Paul Kapelus (South Africa); and Scott Walker (England).