Evolutie van Corporate Social Responsibility in de Belgische banksector voor en na de crisis van 2008

Sara Vermeulen

Evolutie van Corporate Social Responsibility in de Belgische banksector voor en na de crisis van 2008

This master thesis investigates the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the banking sector since the financial crisis of 2008. The purpose of this research is twofold. Firstly, there will be explored whether the CSR policies in the banking sector have changed due to the financial crisis. Secondly, this thesis seeks to find the main motives of the CSR implementation.

The research paper is divided into seven chapters in which the first one explains the origin, definitions and motives of CSR.  The motives of CSR policies could be economically, socially or legally based. From an economic point of view CSR could help the banking sector to regain their lost reputation. In this way CSR is a management tool called reputation management. The legal aspect of CSR could be to anticipate regulation and new values of society. Lastly, CSR could have a social motive. In this way the banking sector can establish their new corporate culture. Carroll’s CSR pyramid is used as the basic methodology for analysis.

The second chapter analyses the integration of CSR in the banking sector. Banks take a specific place in the CSR discussion because their business activities are mainly based on trust. Since 2008 banks’ stakeholders worry mostly about the economic and financial responsibilities of the sector. This includes, for instance, product and process transparency, ethics, and remuneration.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, new regulation has been introduced. Some of this new regulation is tangent to the CSR area. Some of these new regulations will be covered in chapter three.

After this literature review three hypotheses will be formulated:

  • The CSR policies in the banking sector have changed due to the financial crisis of 2008.
  • The main motivation of implementing CSR was regulation such as MIFID, Basel, fit and proper (CSR as compliance).
  • The main motivation of implementing CSR is to regain their lost reputation (CSR as reputation management).

In order to answer these hypotheses, eight in depth interviews were conducted. The respondents consisted of CSR managers, experts and regulators.

Chapter four explains the methodology of the research, followed by the interviews of the CSR managers and experts analysed in the framework of the CSR pyramid of Carroll in chapter five. Chapter six sets out the view of the regulators, the National Bank of Belgium and the FSMA.

Finally, in the conclusion, I reflect to the research question, the main conclusions, and a number of constraints of this study first of all, the CSR policies in the banking sector have changed due to the crisis. Before 2008 CSR consisted of philanthropic activities based on a business approach. Because of the crisis, the banking sector is more aware of their huge impact on the economy.

Secondly, regulation had an influence on the CSR policies of the banks but this was certainly not the main reason for its implementation.

Thirdly, the banks, regulators and experts all agree that regulation needs to be supplemented with changes in corporate culture and behaviour in the banks. For these changes in mentality to succeed, the right incentives need to be created. The remuneration policy in the banking sector is a pitfall because it encourages unethical behaviour.

This brings me to the final point: banks are convinced that CSR can contribute to a better reputation. In the opinion of the experts and regulators CSR’s main motive is indeed reputation management. 



Tom Van den Berghe, CSR manager FEBELFIN, te Brussel op 19 februari 2014, 44’02”.

Erik Van Acker, General Manager CSR, KBC Groep, te Antwerpen op  25 februari 2014, 29’51”.

Martine Hendrickx, CSR manager, BNP Paribas Fortis, te Antwerpen op 25 februari 2014, 26’17”.

Marc De Ceuster, KBC, onafhankelijk lid raad van bestuur, te Antwerpen op 21 maart 2014, 32’51”.

Jo Wuytack, CSR manager, Belfius, te Brussel op 26 maart 2014, 23’03”.

Hein Lannoy, adjunct directeur toezicht op gedragsregels, FSMA, te Brussel op 4 april 2014, 32’55”.

Kaat Exterbille, expert future management, te Dilbeek op 7 april 2014, 31’09”.

John Heller, CEO, Argenta België, te Antwerpen op 8 april 2014, 39’43”.

Luc Coene, Gouverneur Nationale Bank België, te Brussel op 5 mei 2014, 33’12”.


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Universiteit of Hogeschool
sociaal economische wetenschappen
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