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Ethics and Leadership News

November 16, 2010

Changing Finance to Financing Change: Peter Blom Sets Precedent in Responsible Banking

Peter Blom Receives Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics for his leadership in responsible banking.

Peter Blom takes the long-term view in banking. The CEO of Triodos Bank stands at the forefront of the responsible banking movement, redefining capitalism and evaluating whether the methods of his company are sustainable and how they impact society. On Oct. 8, Blom received the Botwinick Prize in Business Ethics, awarded by the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics, for his strides and leadership in responsible banking.

You must link your personal ethics with your professional ethics, Blom said when honored with the prize. Making money with money is not how bankers should think, he said. Instead, they should stay connected with real people and the real economy.

He discussed Triodos Bank’s practices in sustainable investing and transparency. The Dutch bank uses its clients’ savings and investments to only finance “good” enterprises and sustainable projects all over the world, including in such sectors as nature and the environment, social business, and culture and welfare. Blom featured a video that profiled a few of organizations that have received loans from Triodos.

The bank’s lending methods are completely transparent; clients can see a Google map on the Triodos website of what companies the bank finances. This has also proven to be a valuable tool to help borrowers, bankers, customers, and businesses to connect with each other.

Triodos is part of a larger movement in responsible banking. Blom was one of the cofounders of the Global Alliance for Banking Values (GABV), which is a network that was established in 2009 with 11 banks across the world. The alliance serves as a platform for ideas, a support system for these banks, and aims to influence the mainstream financial system.

Watch the video of Peter Blom’s speech, which was also a keynote address at the 2010 Social Enterprise Conference.



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This event was presented by Fred Friendly Seminars in partnership with the Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics, and was part of Columbia Business School’s Individual, Business and Society (IBS) curriculum.

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