20 November 2020

Absa Group has won an award from the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) for the best Industry Specific Risk Initiative (financial category) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Absa also received the South African Publication Forum Award for the best COVID-19 Intervention in relation to its corporate communications strategy.

The awards recognise Absa’s efforts in ensuring that the group continued to service customers across Africa daily, while adjusting to fast-moving government regulations in multiple countries and, at the same time, implementing substantial operational changes to enable more than 20,000 staff members to work from home across 14 countries.

Employee communication was key to effecting large-scale changes efficiently, and focused on three key themes: mental and physical wellbeing; resilience and security; and, new policies and procedures.

“The accolades bear testimony to the hard work and dedication of all our colleagues across the bank who have worked tirelessly - and continue to do so - to keep colleagues, customers, and communities safe during the pandemic while ensuring continued operational and financial resilience of our organisation” said Daniel Mminele, Absa Group Chief Executive.

The response to the pandemic required collaboration and execution between all parts of the organisation in ways not seen before. By invoking response structures early, Absa was able to anticipate and avoid some of the impact felt in other organisations.

From the very early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Absa created an integrated ‘war room’ to manage the response. The war room consisted of a multi-disciplinary team from across the entire group. The war room later became the Absa COVID-19 Advisory Board and consisted of members from the corporate real estate, physical security, wellness and people function, communications, compliance, legal, risk, finance, technology, audit and customer facing business units. 

The latest awards follow earlier recognition in a MyBroadband survey in June in relation to the CEOs’ response to COVID-19. Absa also received an award for Excellence in Leadership in Africa from Euromoney in July for its integrated COVID-19 response in terms for people, clients, and communities. Absa was one of six banks globally that were recognised for outstanding performance during an unprecedented era of constant change and uncertainty as a result of the global health crisis. 

In September, Absa was the recipient of the Business Continuity Institute Africa Award for the Most Effective Recovery, recognising the resilience it demonstrated in the face of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

“A huge amount of work has been done by many to ensure that, as a critical service, we were able to continue to serve and support our customers through this crisis in a sustainable way,” said Mminele.