Integration Journey of Itaú Unibanco’s ESG Sustainability Communication Platform.
What kind of future are we forging with the significant actions of the enormous Itaú Unibanco? And how can we narrate this journey to resonate with all tiers of stakeholders involved in this transformative process?
The genesis of this project is underscored by its unique dual-responsibility, rooted both in the Sustainability and Marketing departments. Stemming from a deep-seated commitment to Sustainability, ISP, and Corporate Citizenship agendas, coupled with the imperative to amass a critical audience, there emerges a need for a cohesive narrative thread. This thread must adeptly guide us through optimal communication channels that bolster the bank’s reputation amongst its customers, business ecosystems, and the broader society.
To cater to this multifaceted backdrop and address the spectrum of interests, we’ve crafted the “Integration Journey of the Itaú Unibanco ESG Sustainability Communication Platform”.
Steps of Our Journey
During the course of this project, we embarked on an extensive consultation process. This involved in-depth interviews with members of both the Executive and Administrative Boards. We also reached out to over a hundred Itubers — the cherished name used for the bank’s employees — from a range of departments deeply intertwined with the subject. These interactions gave rise to 13 diagnostic and co-creation sessions, executed in a hibrid collaborative mode, encompassing both online and face-to-face exchanges.
For us, it is an honour to work towards expanding the ESG agenda in an institution approaching its 100 years of existence, with the strength and magnitude of being one of the largest private banks in Latin America, with a history of leadership in private social investment and Corporate Citizenship through projects and practices related to social and governmental demands such as Education, Culture, Employability, and Creative Economy.
The bank has always been a protagonist and recognized for its social and environmental agendas in which it historically invested, even long before the ESG acronym existed.
Our delivery was in organising the narrative of the integrated Sustainability and ESG Communication platform and its subtopics, consistently organising, articulating, and making visible the various brand initiatives to multiple relationship stakeholders.
A Delivery in 3 Dimensions
Sustainability — Participatory Diagnosis, mapping initiatives, and organising priority stakeholders for agendas, serving as input, including for other impact instruments and reports (e.g., the update of the Materiality Report).
Marketing — Inputs for the development of a unified communication strategy and recommendations for the execution of the Integrated Communication and Sustainability ESG Platform, as well as suggesting the prioritisation of projects that are most consistent with stakeholders to gain visibility in campaign developments and consequently enhance reputation.
Business — Reduction of asymmetry in conceptual understanding and alignment in different areas, with provocations on how Sustainability and ESG can be further leverages for innovation and business value generation.
Decah is not your conventional communication agency. What sets us apart is our genuine and multidisciplinary ethos, paired with a robust network of seasoned experts. This dual strength offers a panoramic, integrated perspective on ESG challenges. Our approach ensures we can delve deeper and more holistically into the issues at hand, paving the way for solutions that are not just comprehensive but also effectively resonate. We’re equipped to investigate, structure, and collaboratively sculpt communication strategies that align perfectly with impact zones, socio-environmental innovation, and ESG principles. Key issues in the communication landscape, such as alignment with overarching processes across various sectors, the material significance of solutions, thorough research, and strategic alignment with businesses, are central to our mission.
For this venture, we were fortunate to collaborate with five exceptional communication maestros. Their individual tales — a mix of personal backgrounds, professional trajectories, and niche expertise — were instrumental. Thanks to their diverse contributions, our project outcomes manifested in a manner that’s not only provocative and robust but also deeply authentic.
This wealth of talent, combined with our native knowledge of impact generation and measurement strategies, as well as our expertise in developing strategies to engage a wide variety of stakeholders, consolidated two essential principles:
1 — Storydoing -> Storytelling
To honour the commitment to ethics and “doing before speaking,” the construction of the bank’s ESG narrative does not start with a search for storytelling but with an understanding and motivation for storydoing.
In other words, the actions tell the story of the world we want to build and the potential impact we can make on people’s lives.
2 — CommunicAction
To move from an institutional agenda to becoming a business asset, we need the integrated platform to have a well-defined internal strategic position to communicate convincingly externally.
In addition to arriving at the narrative behind the impact theory and organising current actions, it is essential to align the narrative with the framework already built for the institutional brand.
Design of the Journey
M1 — Understanding Itaú’s ESG Calling.
Mandate, Context, and Vision for the Future.
Our initial reflection movement of the journey was to conduct interviews with the bank’s senior leadership, including the executive and administrative boards, and immerse ourselves in various materials on the topic produced by the bank in collaboration with strategic partners.
The goal of this phase was to provide insights into the bank’s past, present, and future vision regarding Sustainability and ESG and to obtain clues on how it could be incorporated perennially into the communication strategy.
From these discussions and analyses, Decah and the bank could work together to organise strategic fronts and initiatives that are helping to refine and integrate the ESG agenda in the coming years, as well as elements for constructing the narrative.
Mapping ESG Initiatives
Surveying the breadth of initiatives across various bank departments on the subject enabled us to grasp the ongoing efforts. This understanding paved the way for a more structured organisation, prioritisation, and contemplation on the impact narratives.
Classifying these endeavours required an in-depth examination based on a set of criteria fundamental to our methodology:
Market Drivers: This includes benchmarks, ratings, and legislative mandates.
Impact: Assessed by the initiative’s potency to advance the ESG agenda.
Affinity with Stakeholder Groups: To amplify reputation-building efforts.
Armed with these insights, we delved deep into each overarching trend or action domain, spotlighting the principal challenges and potential opportunities.
Our analysis culminated in the creation of 5 Chapters, encapsulating 17 Macro Insights. These chapters serve as a compass, guiding us through the bank’s historical journey, its governance structures, the role of ESG as a pivotal engagement tool for various stakeholders, the industry’s shaping influence on the agenda, key impact metrics, the bank’s significance in Brazil’s socio-economic tapestry, and the prospective paths for furthering Brazil’s sustainable development journey.
M2 — Synchronising and Sharpening Strategies for Agenda Comprehension and Realisation.
In the journey’s subsequent phase, we orchestrated a two-day workshop, bringing together Itubers and thought-leaders known as Provokers. The aim was to critically assess the purpose and results of the current initiatives and to identify avenues to enhance comprehension and the prospective realisation of the ESG agenda in forthcoming years.
Provocations and Participatory Diagnosis
During our diagnostic and alignment workshop, experts from pivotal areas such as Sustainability, HR, Wholesale and Products (BBA), Marketing, Corporate Communication, and the Itaú Unibanco Foundation spearheaded the “Provocation Levelling” process. This was an essential preparatory phase wherein leaders engaged in discussions on vital themes, laying the groundwork for all subsequent activities.
This was followed by the “Perception Map,” where Itubers distilled and consolidated their viewpoints, drawing from the discussions and prompts of the workshop. Here, they identified fresh insights and forged a unified understanding. This collaborative exercise eventually flowed into the “SWOT Analysis.” In this phase, the diverse insights and discussions held with the executive leadership were meticulously categorised and structured, providing a holistic strategic perspective.
Mapping and supplementing the diagnosis of priority stakeholders within the bank’s ESG agenda: who they are, their needs, agenda priorities, and opportunities — which also served as input and influenced the update of the Materiality Report.
Early Exercises in Aligning Agenda, Stakeholders, and Action Opportunities
At the onset of aligning the agenda, stakeholders, and business pursuits, we implemented two cornerstone strategies. First, the “ESG Concordance Mandala” exercise encouraged departments to assess their understanding of stakeholder requirements and evaluate the bank’s potential stances, with an emphasis on ethical pledges and engagement tactics that can pave the way for reputation-enhancing opportunities.
Subsequently, the “Narrative Centralities” exercise refined the storytelling of this intricate web of connections, spotlighting the relationship between stakeholders, the agenda, and the bank’s pivotal role. This initiative was further enriched by a critical challenge: seamlessly weaving the bank’s Impact Agenda discourse with its intrinsic strengths, storylines, and engagement approaches for different societal sectors. This was especially achieved through collaborations with ISP, Institutes, and Foundations, fortifying the union of the agenda’s narrative with the bank’s overarching institutional positioning.
M3 — Crafting the Itaú Unibanco Sustainability ESG Strategic Compass & Prioritising Stakeholder Initiatives
In the journey’s concluding phase, we organised five digital workshops, involving around 120 participants, to finesse and align our collective understanding and strategies.
Deliverables from the Systematisation Process
From our collaborative efforts emerged the definitive Itaú Unibanco ESG Communication Strategic Compass, designed to provide clear direction and tactics for engaging pivotal stakeholders. Moreover, we presented a detailed mapping of leadership territories within the ESG domain and delved into insights on harnessing ESG not just as a commitment, but as a potent business catalyst for the bank.
Methodological Curation Infused with the Bank’s Organisational Culture
Spanning the three phases of the Sustainability and ESG Comunication Integration Journey, Decah’s methodological hibridism enabled us to seamlessly meld our structured frameworks with the bank’s strategic cultural elements.
Integral elements, such as the Sustainable Performance Spiral, the distinct Ituber Culture, the Narrative Checklist, and the Impact Commitments, were woven into tools that resonated with and were recognisable to the internal teams.
This blending was envisaged as an educational tactic, designed to empower Itubers to step into the shoes of impact strategists, thereby easing their assimilation and induction into the entire process, and fostering the daily integration of these concepts within their respective units.
These re-envisioned frameworks afforded teams and pivotal stakeholders a shared foundation to synchronise perceptions, clarify and detail forthcoming steps for either existing or prospective products/initiatives, and define the course for actions, challenges, implementation avenues, and project engagement strategies. These frameworks also laid the groundwork for one of our final offerings: the Integrated Sustainability and ESG Communication Strategic Compass.
The Heart of our Approach: Our Impact Theses
In our tailored Journeys or Integrated Impact Labs, we typically lean towards circular frameworks to structure, equate, and prioritise impact practices, tactics, and stances, effectively serving as strategic beacons for our clientele.
The circle, in its unadulterated simplicity, demystifies intricate notions spanning diverse realms like psychology, history, and art. Illuminating the circle’s timeless significance in epitomising knowledge dissemination, we underscore its ubiquity across myriad cultures and epochs.
Its portrayal as an enclosed system accentuates the indispensability of adaptive learning, responding to evolving exigencies and challenges. The circle’s inherent ethos, championing connection and communal spirit, underscores the symbiotic interdependence amongst businesses, civil society, governments, and the environment.
Nestled at the very heart of this circle is a unified direction, steered by the foundational values and pledges that orchestrate the bank’s endeavours within the overarching agenda. This core epitomises the aspiration to render environmental, social, and governance principles not just as lofty ideals but as tangible and actionable business imperatives.
The Intricacies of Circular Visualization
The allure of circular visualisations, while undeniable, comes packaged with inherent complications. There’s potential for misrepresentation or convolution of data, sometimes making direct value comparisons challenging.
Thus, in sculpting the visual narrative of the Strategic Compass, including its action domains and pivotal impact tactics, we leaned heavily on the ESG INITIATIVE MAPPING derived from earlier phases, using it as our primary design touchstone and relevance criterion.
Such insights were pivotal, ensuring the Strategic Compass genuinely encapsulated the all-encompassing spirit of the expansive Sustainability ESG directive, fostering relatability and cultivating a collective ownership sentiment throughout the journey.
Incorporating Organisational Cultural Dimensions into the Journey
When we designed this Journey, we had also designed secondary objectives that materialized as follows:
A) Diminish informational disparities concerning the multitude of granularly executed bank initiatives, practices, and projects;
B) Deepen the rapport amongst Itubers and departments entrenched in the ESG narrative, thereby bolstering Ituber assimilation into the ESG fold and broadening the horizon for inter-departmental synergies;
C) Ignite lateral connections, deciphering how ESG can serve as an engagement catalyst, and identifying potential enhancement or association avenues for standing initiatives;
D) Cultivate a co-creative ethos, involving diverse stakeholders in deliberating and refining the bank’s holistic impact hypotheses and strategizing on widening and expedited alignment with societal anticipations and requisites, inclusive of synergies with other societal stakeholders.
At Decah, our modus operandi underscores the meticulous design of our experiences and each leg of the Journey. Our deliberate choice of both innovative and summative frameworks, complemented by our participatory-centric pedagogy (Ecosystem Center Design), is deemed as critical, if not more, as the end project deliverable.
After all, it’s this profound sense of shared ownership that optimises rollout tactics and bolsters collective accountability towards chasing envisioned impacts.
A plethora of Sustainability ESG initiatives spanning multiple strategic facets were spotlighted. An overarching conceptual framework was forged to seamlessly weave the narrative. Dedicated engagement tactics for prioritised stakeholders were delineated. In addition, strategic co-creation frameworks for Sustainability and ESG were customized.
Connection and Integration of JOIAS
Decah has in its original curation, the JOIAS — Journeys of Impact and Socioenvironmental Enhancement. This methodology laid the foundational blueprint for the entire Sustainability and ESG Narrative Integration Journey.
The orchestration of this Journey is targeted at engaging diverse stakeholders and areas of the client, spanning the gamut from appraising extant initiatives, understanding institutional drivers, rallying multifaceted stakeholders, to fostering the co-creation of innovative corporate socio-environmental strategies.
Connection and Integration with JOIAS.
- Evaluative lens on extant initiatives and responsibility schema via ESG Initiative Mapping;
- Strategic mapping and tactics for stakeholder engagement;
- Grading ESG ventures across the 3-tier ESG Consciousness spectrum: risk mitigation, budding innovations, and visioning regenerative futures, spread temporally and in terms of investment;
- Detailed ESG Strategy Cards;
- The Strategic Compass.
There’s scarcely a singular “autoral big idea” that can rival the might of collective synergy and the amalgamation of diverse intellects of the bank participating in this journey.
An integrated perspective on Sustainability and ESG amplifies this sentiment. This isn’t just about cherry-picking stories to spotlight; it’s an exploration into which narratives and themes earn centrestage, set precedents, and form meaningful bonds with a wider stakeholder community.
Tomorrow’s institutional trailblazers will be those with unparalleled prowess to rally varied societal factions, united in their mission to address emergent socio-environmental challenges with authenticity and transparency.
This ethos harmonised seamlessly with one of the bank’s cardinal principles — the revered #Vai de Turma (“we go together”).
A Nod of Gratitude
Given the vast expanse of converging themes, campaigns, and stakeholder perspectives, it’s imperative to tip our hats to our gracious project patrons: Raul Santa Helena, for extending the invite, and particularly the dynamic duo of Raquéis — Raquel Miranda (Marketing) and Raquel Zanon (Sustainability) who were our steadfast anchors throughout this phase.
Their presence was pivotal in facilitating our deep dive and accelerating our assimilation of the institution, resulting in strategic, actionable, and potent outputs poised to redefine leadership and amplify systemic impact theses.
A hearty salute to our dedicated brigade: Carla Purcino, Marcos H. Salles, Jess Castro, Caroline Lessa, Sarah Brito, Simone Santos, and Vitor Barreira. Their unwavering dedication, professionalism, and steadfastness to authenticity illuminated every step of this journey.
This article is signed by Vinicius de Paula Machado, but created in collaboration with the entire Decah project team.