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Management discussion and analysis

Responsible organisation –
Shared value

Commercial Bank is a responsible organisation due to its commitment to sustainable practices and values that enable it to create and share value in a sustainable manner. The Bank’s operations are guided by principles and standards outlined in its Sustainability Framework, which include aligning with regulatory requirements, adopting a Group Conduct Risk Management Policy Framework, minimising negative externalities to the society and the environment and establishing a Sustainability Framework for sustainable banking, responsible organisation and community engagement. Additionally, the Bank emphasises good corporate governance, ethical conduct and stakeholder interests, ensuring that all employees adhere to a Code of Ethics covering various aspects such as preventing insider dealing, managing conflicts of interest and respecting communities and the environment.

It places a strong emphasis on good corporate governance, viewing it as a collective responsibility that serves as the foundation for financial integrity, sustainable value creation and investor confidence. The Bank conducts its affairs with utmost intellectual honesty, integrity and diligence, while also being mindful of its obligations to the society and the environment.

The Bank also places a strong emphasis on environmental engagement and conservation. It actively participates in initiatives to fight climate change and reduce its carbon footprint. The Bank became the first carbon-neutral bank in Sri Lanka in 2020 and is on its way to be carbon neutral on its own by 2030, demonstrating its commitment to environmental sustainability. It engages in preventative, regenerative and restorative programmes to meet Sustainable Development Goals related to clean energy and responsible consumption and production.

Additionally, the Bank demonstrates its commitment to responsible practices through its approach to risk management. It carefully manages the risks associated with financial intermediation and maturity transformation, ensuring responsible value creation for its diverse stakeholders. The Bank actively identifies, assesses and remediates business risks through day-to-day decisions made by line managers and various management and Board committees.

As a socially responsible entity, the Bank fosters an environmentally friendly and secure workplace, promotes a supportive work environment and seeks sustainability throughout its supply chain.



Embarking on a steadfast sustainability journey, the Bank has established a long-standing legacy of sustainable initiatives as illustrated below:



Sustainability Objectives


Promoting environmental management within the workforce


Promoting environmental management among clients and communities


Conserving, enhancing and restoring ecosystems


Utilising proactive and innovative technology and ideas to support environmental management


Adopting Science Based Targets


Reaching net zero impact


Green and safe workplace

Managing the footprint and curbing the emissions

sdg7 sdg12 sdg13

The Bank’s green initiative focuses on preventive, regenerative and restorative programmes aligned with SDGs 7, 12 and 13, which aim to achieve “Affordable and Clean Energy” a “Responsible Consumption and Production” and “Climate Action” respectively. By implementing best practices, the Bank strives to transform its ecosystem into a green powerhouse, ensuring that every green alternative adopted is either preventive or regenerative/restorative, thus promoting environmental sustainability.

Environmental Stewardship Approach and carbon neutrality

The banking sector inherently exerts a limited environmental footprint, with minimal utilisation of natural resources, negligible emissions and waste generation and not bound by mandatory environmental regulations. Yet, the Bank acknowledges that the mitigation of climate change is a shared obligation and endeavours to set a precedent and advocate for environmentally conscious corporate practices. The Bank’s extensive “Climate Position Statement” exemplifies its proactive stance, defining its strategies for sustainable operations and environmental stewardship. The Bank attaining carbon neutrality status is a significant achievement, marking it a notable commitment to voluntarily reduce its carbon footprint by surpassing regulatory requirements. Aligned with its overarching Sustainability Framework, these extraordinary commitments not only underscore the Bank’s leadership in environmental sustainability and innovative approaches but also position it as a driver of positive change, inspiring other businesses to adopt proactive roles in safeguarding the planet.

Some of the measures that the Bank has endeavoured to reduce emissions are as follows:

  • Introducing LED lighting across the Bank’s branch network
  • Investing Rs. 76.5 Mn. to commission solar systems at 11 Commercial Bank branches
  • Replacing outdated water-cooling systems at the Bank’s City Office with a new VRF system
  • Optimising air conditioning systems at the Bank’s Head Office
  • Introducing auto-timed switch off of over 5,000 servers and workstations across the Bank’s branch network
  • Replacing 10 CRT monitors with power-saving LCD monitors
  • Installing Turbine Ventilation at two offsite ATM locations to replace conventional Air Conditioning
  • Installing sensor lights at ATM locations
  • Converting Trincomalee and Jaffna branch buildings with eco-friendly features promoting sustainable construction.

One of the technologically advanced approaches is the "Flash" mobile application, which accurately measures the environmental footprint of customers and provides suggestions to mitigate the impact of their banking activities by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Bank was honoured to gain global recognition as one of the 25 banks worldwide dedicated to fostering environmental awareness among their customers. This acknowledgment occurred during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27), where Doconomy AB, a Sweden-based Impact-Tech Solutions company that enable banks to accelerate green transition, partnered with the Commercial Bank’s Flash Digital Bank Account App, showcased a map illustrating the global presence of these 25 banks. Together, these institutions utilise Doconomy’s environmental impact index to calculate the carbon footprint of transactions made through their respective apps, contributing to environmental conservation efforts.

Climate Position Statement of Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC

Figure – 25

Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC is the leading private bank in Sri Lanka. It also provides Banking and Financial Services to South Asian Countries. The Bank firmly believes that;


Natural resources are finite and need to be used sustainably


The transition to a low-carbon economy is essential and systematic transition does not only bring substantial benefits to the planet earth but lead to business and economic growth opportunities


It is imperative that global warming is limited to well below 2 Degrees Celsius and pursue efforts to limit to 1.5 Degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial level, as committed to the Paris Pledge for Action

The main geographic locations that the Bank operates; Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar are nations with ambitious National Determined Contributions to limit the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emission for climate change mitigation. The Bank has duly identified its role in providing financial support to its customers in mitigating climate change effects through Climate Financing.

Even with the current levels of GHG Emission in the atmosphere, changes in the climate are likely and will impose serious consequences to many sectors in the economies. Adaptive actions are therefore necessary in addition to the efforts made to mitigate climate change. Further, Asia is regularly identified as one of the regions hardest hit by climate change. Hence, adaptation to effects of climate change through support to climate resilient agriculture, water resources management and disaster risk management, etc. are priorities. Accordingly, the Bank assesses climate risks and opportunities associated with banking activities and integrate climate adaptation considerations to the Banking Operations, as well as to its product and service offerings.

Climate Financing is a subset of the Bank’s broader Green Financing commitment to positively contribute towards safeguarding the environment. Our Green Financing Strategy, reinforces the commitment to integrate climate change mitigation and adaptation actions and environment safeguard factors into its business strategies, risk management and governance.

Our desire is to align our operations towards NetZero by 2050, supported by a climate transition plan.

Renewable power generation

Prioritising the security of all stakeholders, the Bank strategically devised plans to gradually transition away from electricity generation via power generators. The goal is to replace this with solar panels wherever feasible, aligning with a broader movement towards cleaner energy. While not applicable to every Commercial Bank branch, the implementation of off-grid solar power generation is now a reality in 82 branches.

Power generated through renewable sources

Table – 15
  2023 2022 2021
Power generated through renewable sources (%) 16.09 15.09 2.35
Number of branches connected with off-grid solar power generation 82 71 66

Another initiative aimed at ensuring the continuous functioning of banking operations was cost optimisation. The Bank implemented an “open” idea box policy, inviting all employees to contribute suggestions on enhancing service delivery amidst volatile conditions.

Utility power consumption and GHG emissions

Table – 16
 Year   2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
Total utility power (CEB/LECO) consumption Gigajoules 46,971 38,416 42,906 45,045 50,296
Increase/(decrease) in utility power consumption Gigajoules 8,555 (4,490) (2,139) (5,251) 338
Direct (Scope 1) GHG emissions CO2 Tonnes 850 1,880 1,203 1,079 1,282
Energy indirect (Scope 2) GHG emissions CO2 Tonnes 5,581 6,496 7,144 8,413 10,957
Solar power generated Gigajoules 7,556 5,796 1,008 72 1,044
Solar power generated as a % of utility power consumption % 16.09 15.09 2.35 0.16 2.08

Solar power generation by the Bank

Total solar generation capacity

2,209 kwh

Total generation per day

8,838 kwh

Total solar generation per month

265,140 kwh

Total savings per month

Rs. 14.8 Mn.

Solar panels installed in



sdg icon 7 sdg icon 7

Green Building

Being a leader in sustainable eco-friendly practices, the Bank made quantum leaps in going green, by implementing green architecture models, which are now synonymous with the Bank branches in Jaffna, Trincomalee and Galle Fort. This has helped to reduce carbon and water footprints. Going forward, more branches will be equipped with renewable energy generated from solar panels to streamline the Bank’s sustainability focus.

Trincomalee branch building

The Trincomalee branch building was awarded a Gold rating under the Green Building awards presented by the Green Building Council of Sri Lanka (GBCSL) for the building’s eco-friendly features.

trincomalee branch building

Employee morale, health and safety

Amidst the challenging circumstances of the year, the Bank placed considerable emphasis on upholding high employee morale and ensuring their safety. Prioritising the vigilant protection of employees from both external and internal pressures, along with offering support and care, remained paramount. Safeguarding employees’ livelihoods, health and overall well-being, while fostering a sense of unity among the workforce, stood as pivotal focuses for the Bank throughout 2023.

Employee welfare is upheld with facilities supported by comprehensive policies and by considering occupational safety measures to prioritise employee health and safety, contributing to a positive and secure work environment. Following are some of the measures taken by the Bank to ensure employee health and safety


Regular fire drills and the well-marked fire exits


Safe building maintenance with clear signboards for emergencies


Health awareness programmes

  • Awareness session on “Digital Life & Eye Care” presented by Vision Care Optical Services (private) limited
  • Eye Screening Camp conducted by Vision Care Optical Services (private) limited
  • Webinar on “Mastering the Art of Mental Well-Being: Empowering Employees to Thrive” presented by Prof Priyanjali de Zoysa
  • Webinar on “A holistic approach to well-being” presented by Prof Sri Kandiah


Optimised operations

Throughout 2023, the HR Division of the Bank played a pivotal role in guiding employees through the challenges that flowed from the preceding year. The Bank extended a caring stewardship to each employee throughout, implementing remedial measures not only to adapt to local stresses but also to foster interconnectedness, synergy and efficient management of human resources. The HR division was able to instill a culture of support and engagement, encouraging employees to be resilient and agile.

During the period under review, several initiatives were launched to bolster business operations. The HR Division department strategically implemented promotions and prioritised employee training and development, utilising a variety of learning platforms and training materials. Areas of focus encompassed thorough employee career planning, succession planning across middle management and departmental levels, leadership development programmes and a heightened effort to increase female representation in managerial positions. Notable endeavours included the introduction of the employee app (ComLink) and the implementation of a salary survey, both aimed at enhancing the overall benefits offered to employees.

Workplace culture

Raising the employee morale through engagement

To elevate employee engagement, events originally scheduled between 2020–22 were rescheduled, culminating in the Annual Award Ceremony that considered a two-year timeframe. This grand ceremony not only celebrated employee contributions during challenging times but also recognised those who excelled in ensuring the continuity of banking operations.

Furthermore, the loyalty and 25 year of service of 74 employees of the Bank was celebrated at the 2023 edition of the Bank’s annual Seniority Awards ceremony where the employees were felicitated with valuable gifts and certificates of appreciation. Many of the recipients of these awards were school leavers when they joined the Bank in 1998 and now hold key positions in Corporate Management and in various departments and branches.

Seniority Awards Ceremony

Seniority Awards Ceremony – 2023

Furthermore, the Bank organised additional morale-boosting events, including a lively employee carnival and a Christmas Party, aiming to instill a sense of joy within the Commercial Bank family.

The year marked a significant milestone in terms of staff engagement, featuring diverse activities such as a talent show, football and cricket tournaments, excellence awards and performance awards. These initiatives were designed to foster a vibrant and participative culture within Commercial Bank, recognising and appreciating the diverse talents and contributions of the employees.

Amid the constraints of the contemporary pandemic, employees demonstrated respect and loyalty to both the Bank and the banking family by providing exemplary service to stakeholders who entrusted the Bank with their savings. Morale played a pivotal role, fostered by a culture that personalises and humanises employees, extracting the best from their work ethic while ensuring their well-being is resilient against unnecessary stresses. The Commercial Bank family newsletter, “Compulse,” continued to engage employees, keeping them informed about each other’s endeavours in both work and personal pursuits. Improved connectivity and communication between Bank branches set a precedent for more seamless cross-functional and cross-branch dialogues.

Combank Super Talent Season 3

Combank Super Talent Season 3 was conducted in 2023 capturing the essence of brilliance and dedication of Combank Staff.

It was a journey of extraordinary moments. Each frame tells a story of passion, commitment and the unwavering spirit of our exceptional teams.

Combank Super Talent was started in 2016 and had season two in 2019. In Combank Super Talent Season 03, a total 72 applications were received out of which 34 for singing while 20 for Dancing and 18 for Drama category which shows the enthusiasm of our Combank Staff. 15 teams selected to perform at the Grand finale comprising 5 teams for each category (Drama, Singing & Dancing) while nearly 1000 staff members witnessed the glamorous event held at Monarch Imperial, Kotte on November 4, 2024 followed by fellowship with Music & Dancing. 3 Winners & 3 runners up teams were selected by an eminent panel of Judges comprising of Industry experts and presented the Awards & cash prizes by MD/CEO.

Combank Super Talents – Season 3

Combank Super Talent – Season 3

Sports events

The Bank recognises the importance of sports events to foster an environment of employee wellness, improve team spirit and create a sense of camaraderie among employees to stay motivated and productive.

Therefore the Bank promotes sports among its employees by organising a variety of sports events including the annual cricket tournament, netball tournament and football tournament.

Combank Super Talents – Season 3

Sports Events – 2023

Fast track promotions

Promotions are a key strategy for talent retention and business growth. In today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, employees seek prospects for advancement and new challenges. In this context, the Bank recognises the importance of motivating high-performers by facilitating smoother promotions with a clear path for career progression. Therefore the promotion criteria of the Bank’s employee grades were revised in order to motivate employees to fast- track their careers and advance within the organisation.

Recruitment drive

In order to meet organisational needs and fill the vacancies created with resignations, the recruitment drive was continued and strengthened with recruiting ideal candidates from the external job market for various specialised positions as well.

The banking vocation

The banking vocation is multifaceted in its many roles and responsibilities in its primary functions as a financial intermediary and a maturity transformer. To keep the banking operations at a peak, there should be both job security as well as a means to develop an employee’s repertoire of skills and talents. The banking vocation in 2023, stood uplifted by the vocational purposing of each employee to the bigger banking ecosystem, the provision of diversified training programmes, a special monthly allowance to staff in certain grades, hosting of talent shows for the development of employee skill sets, provision of work-from-home and hybrid work arrangements, facilitation of commuting of the employees by pioneering logistics (a bus service) and appreciating the staff by rewarding promotions, awards and financial reimbursements.

While several facets changed in their outlook, the ergonomic landscapes and the backdrop of advertising and marketing of hiring processes did not undergo significant modifications in 2023. In the current operational context, there is anticipation that there will be a re-evaluation of the operational dimensions of the HR Division in 2024.

Colours of diversity

Highlighting the diversity within its workforce, the Bank actively participated in various cultural activities to connect with its multicultural employees. Events like Christmas Carols were organised to resonate with the cultural, ethnic and religious identities of the workforce, fostering a sense of belonging to a larger community. The Bank took strides to enhance female participation in management by promoting 12 employees to Senior Management roles.

The Bank’s promotion policy delineates the staff promotion procedure for all grades, encompassing appointment/career advancement and promotions up to the Corporate Management level. A key tenet of the policy is that promotions and recruitments are merit-based, with clearly defined criteria outlined in a scheme that eliminates gender bias from the promotion process.

Viewing diversity as an essential element adding vibrancy to the banking units, the Bank actively engages its workforce to grow within a multicultural landscape, enhancing each employee’s sense of purpose. This diversity not only serves a crucial role in the ecosystem but also enriches the Banking family with the unique colours brought by its diverse members.

Employees by category and gender – Bank

Table – 17
As at December 31, 2023 Age 18-30 years Age 31-50 years Age over 50 years Total %
Male Female Male Female Male Female
Corporate Management 4 24 5 33 0.63
Executive Officers 148 52 1388 308 242 131 2,269 43.63
Executive assistants
and allied grades
739 228 817 277 28 70 2,159 41.51
Banking trainees 363 337 4 1 2 707 13.59
Office assistants
and others
5 27 1 33 0.63
Total 1,250 617 2,218 586 323 207 5,201 100.00
As a % of total 24.03 11.86 42.65 11.27 6.21 3.98 100.00

Employees by type and gender

Table – 18
As of December 31, 2023 Sri Lanka % Bangladesh % Total %
Permanent and contract employees
Female 1,314 27.06 96 27.83 1,410 27.11
– Permanent 1,308 26.94 75 21.74 1,383 26.59
– Contract 6 0.12 21 6.09 27 0.52
Male 3,542 72.94 249 72.17 3,791 72.89
– Permanent 3,540 72.90 198 57.39 3,738 71.87
– Contract 2 0.04 51 14.78 53 1.02
Total 4,856 100.00 345 100.00 5,201 100.00
Outsourced employees
– Female 514 49.66 2 2.25 516 45.91
– Male 521 50.34 87 97.75 608 54.09
Total 1,035 100.00 89 100.00 1,124 100.00

All employees of the Bank are full time employees.

Female employees as of December 31, 2023

Table – 19
2023 2022 2021 2020
Number of female employees 1,410 1,217 1,201 1,185
Female employees in Senior Management
positions as a percentage of total employment (%)
0.58 0.98 0.92 0.92
Percentage of female employees promoted (%) 20.84 19.13 16.80 21.80
Percentage of females recruited (%) 53.31 29.00 35.50 27.21
Percentage of females in key geographical locations
(of all female employees in the Bank)
Sri Lanka
– Western Province (%) 78.92 75.62 75.34 81.01
– Outstations (%) 21.08 24.38 24.66 18.99
– Dhaka (%) 83.33 76.54 81.40 75.86
– Other locations (%) 16.67 23.46 18.60 24.14
Percentage of female exits (includes retirees) 23.30 31.31 31.00 32.87

Staff training

Training and Development remains a crucial element within the Bank’s Human Resource Development Philosophy. With a robust strategy in place, the Bank continues to prioritise equipping its staff with relevant and up-to-date skill sets, ensuring they possess the necessary competencies to deliver enhanced value. The Retail Products Division, in collaboration with the Digital Banking Unit, initiated a cross-functional knowledge-sharing and skills development programme to cultivate a digitally-aware culture. This initiative aims to facilitate more effective development and deployment of tech-based products.

Regular staff training programmes were implemented, specifically focusing on accuracy, efficiency and fluency in pawning transactions, contributing to the overall improvement of the valuation process. Additionally, customer service training was intensified, reaching over 2,000 staff across all branches, reinforcing the Bank’s dedication to delivering an enhanced service experience. The renovated state-of-the-art auditorium, located in the Union Place branch building, serves as an integral addition to the Commercial Bank’s facilities. This modern space caters to diverse events, including product launches, competitions, staff training programmes and cultural extravagansas, meeting contemporary requirements.

During the year, the Bank invested Rs. 88.620 Mn., on training and development and delivered on average 9 hours of training per employee.

Training statistics

Table – 20
2023 2022 2021 2020 2019
Total training cost (Rs. Mn.) 88.620 65.375 22.955 15.183 54.695
Total training hours 180,313 151,448 79,928 43,961 142,950
Total E-learning hours 4,546 1,319 7,756 7,161 1,111
Percentage of training through E-learning (%) 2.52 0.87 9.70 14.01 0.77
Total investments on virtual training (Rs. Mn.) 9.100 14.435 16.958 3.455 0.315

Middle Management Development Programme

The Bank launched the Middle Management Development Programme in 2022 which will benefit more than 130 middle managers over a period of 2 years. The programme was introduced to enhance the competencies of the Bank’s future leaders, develop their potential to assume greater responsibilities, enable emerging leaders to grow and connect across diverse business disciplines, prepare them for future challenges and roles and equip them with a strategic leadership mindset. The phase 1 of the programme was concluded at the end of the year 2023 and the Final presentations on various topics related to the Bank from, from each group were presented for a panel comprising of a DGM, two AGMs and PIM Senior Faculty/Lecturer. The phase 2 of the programme is to be started in 2024.

Remuneration and job security

Prioritising the continuity of employee remuneration and job security, the Bank conducted annual performance appraisals in 2023. All increments and bonus entitlements, in accordance with the Bank’s Pay-for-Performance policy, were fully paid, ensuring that performance-based bonus entitlements for the year were duly rewarded. Additionally, the Defined Contribution Pension Fund, launched in 2020 on the occasion of the Bank’s 100th anniversary, provides financial assurances for employees not covered by the pension fund.

To further enhance employee benefits, the Bank introduced a tax relief allowance specifically for executive grades, coupled with the renaming of titles to reflect their social significance. As part of the compensation policy change, a special salary structure was implemented for IT personnel. This involved a comprehensive salary survey, considering both external benchmarks and internal movements. The new structure, encompassing cash, bonus and expedited promotion, aimed at attracting and retaining IT talent.

Each employee received a yearly average increment of 9%, aiming to offset inflation and alleviate the challenges of a high cost of living. The HR Division, operating under the motto “Believe in Commercial Bank” for 2023, built on the momentum of prudent confidence and solidarity, values integral to the Bank’s ethos.

In 2023, the banking ecosystem witnessed a brain drain, with nearly 163 employees migrating overseas for better opportunities. To address resulting vacancies, the Bank hired 589 new employees during the year. The Bank actively supported talent upskilling and career development initiatives, ensuring employees were equipped with the necessary capabilities for professional growth.

Continuing its strategy, the Bank outsourced services for Digital Assistants and call center operations. Outbound excursions were also organised to enhance the harmony among hierarchical and geographically dispersed branches, fostering a cohesive and flourishing singular system within the banking operations.

Collective bargaining

In December 2023, the Bank solidified its partnership with the Commercial Bank Employees Union (CBEU) by signing a collective agreement for a three-year period. Throughout the year, the Bank maintained harmonious relations with the CBEU, fostering open dialogue and negotiations that mutually benefited both parties. This collaborative approach yielded rewards for both the Bank and the union members, reflecting a positive and constructive engagement between the two entities.

HR challenges, initiatives and plans

The HR Department of the Bank faced multifaceted challenges, including significant turnover at the executive level influenced by global job market trends and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This rapid turnover complicates the process of replacing departing employees, particularly in the traditional model of training from entry-level to higher positions. To tackle this, the Bank has accelerated the banking trainee process, eased promotion criteria and recruited mid-career professionals for specific roles. Despite acknowledging challenges in talent acquisition and potential long-term impacts on the leadership pipeline, the Bank remains optimistic about the influx of external talent bringing fresh ideas and competition.

To adapt to the evolving workforce landscape, the Bank initiated various strategies such as creating new roles, restructuring the salary system and recruiting professionals from non-banking sectors. Furthermore, efforts to enhance employee engagement, the Bank introduced special tax relief allowances and also engaged in a range of training and development schemes to ensure that the employees are custodians of lifelong learning and strategic self-development that can be vehicles of self-actualisation. Plans for succession planning, increased training activities and potential compensation adjustments are also in the pipeline.

The Bank adopts a comprehensive approach to address HR challenges through digital transformation, competency frameworks, coaching initiatives and employee development. In addition, the Bank is focusing on cross-functional opportunities to encourage mobility among employees, upgrading its Human Resources Information System (HRIS) to improve talent management and centralising routine tasks for better service delivery. These initiatives reflect the Bank’s commitment to overcoming challenges and fostering a resilient and adaptable workforce in the ever-changing banking sector landscape to deliver operational excellence.

The Bank values upholding established standards and principles concerning labour practices, human rights and occupational health and safety as crucial for maintaining productivity. Particularly in demanding situations, it is vital to prevent burnout and fatigue, boost morale and foster an environment where employees can thrive and contribute to the Bank’s success. Despite facing challenges, the staff’s camaraderie and team spirit remained robust, ensuring their productivity stayed consistently high.

Retention rate (Maternity leave)

Table – 21
Number of Employees 2023 2022 2021
Availed leave during the year 36 49 50
Due to return during the year 39 54 59
Returned during the year 38 54 59
Returned during prior year 54 59 73
Still employed after 12 months 45 56 70
Return ratio % 97.00 100.00 100.00
Retained ratio % 83.33 94.92 95.89

Integrating sustainability into HR Strategy


Encouraging sustainability-related behaviour

The Bank is dedicated to fostering a green and sustainable work environment as part of its sustainability initiatives. This commitment encompasses various strategies aimed at reducing environmental impact, promoting energy efficiency and supporting sustainable practices within the workplace, as depicted in Figure 27 below:




Responsible consumption of resources

The Bank actively promotes responsible resource consumption through education and awareness initiatives, instilling principles like the 4R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover) and Circular Economy concepts among our committed staff. Our aim is to foster sustainable business operations by encouraging efficient energy and material management to minimise the Bank’s environmental footprint. Aligned with our sustainability blueprint, we are dedicated to coordinating joint efforts with pertinent SDGs, with a particular focus on SDG 12. This commitment is demonstrated through responsible practices across various aspects.


Responsible Construction of Buildings

The Bank ensures responsible usage of materials when constructing bank buildings. Our procurement teams well calculate the necessary resources to minimise wastage of resources

Efficient Resource Consumption

The Bank actively promotes responsible consumption of resources, particularly paper, water and electricity within our operations

EDMs & Internal Campaigns

The Bank uses electronic direct mailers (EDMS) and internal campaigns to spread awareness on environmental issues and foster a culture of resource minimisation among staff and other stakeholders

Beach Cleaning Initiatives

These initiatives have educated our staff, customers and stakeholders of the importance of protecting our oceans and marine life

School Revamping Projects

Through such projects we have engaged in educating and instilling sustainable practices among students, school staff and the broader community

Minimising/Offsetting our Environmental Footprint

Figure – 28


Evidence of Use

Implementation of energy, water and other resource management practices is evident in the Bank's operations. Additionally, adopting the 4R strategy (reduce, reuse, recycle, recover) has significantly minimised and offset environmental footprints




Process improvements


Green building initiatives


Transition to paperless operations


Targeted Objective


Conserving, enhancing and restoring ecosystems


Promoting environmental management within the workforce

Paperless operations

The advent of technology has revolutionised numerous aspects of our lives, including how the Bank conducts financial transactions and manages its operations. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on promoting paperless operations within the banking sector, driven by the dual goals of cost reduction and environmental sustainability. Having introduced digital tabling and viewing of Board and Board Committee Papers via the BoardPac System over a decade ago, Commercial Bank has been at the forefront of this movement, implementing various initiatives to minimise paper usage and transition towards digital alternatives.

One of the primary objectives of promoting paperless operations is to reduce paper consumption and the associated costs, including purchase, transportation and storage. By embracing digitalisation, the Bank has streamlined and automated work processes, leading to greater efficiency and cost savings. Additionally, the scarcity and increasing cost of materials such as plastic, EMV chips and POS devices, coupled with the rise of green banking initiatives, have further incentivised the shift towards paperless, digital and eco-friendly products and services.

The Bank has implemented a systematic digitalisation strategy aimed at achieving a paperless operational environment. This strategy involves leveraging technology to drive paperless payment transaction initiatives, introducing electronic loan application procedures, launching mobile apps for digital deposits and implementing digital workflow systems for internal memos and approvals. Furthermore, the Bank has replaced traditional notice boards with LED panels and introduced e-statements for both account and credit card holders, eliminating the need for physical paper statements.

The transition towards paperless processes is not only a cost-effective measure but also aligns with industry trends and environmental sustainability goals. By managing the supply side through effective sourcing and price negotiations and establishing accountability on the demand side through digitalisation and benchmarking, the Bank has been able to significantly reduce quantities of heavily used stationery items year on year. This approach not only reduces operational costs but also minimises the environmental impact associated with paper production and disposal.

The commitment to promoting paperless operations extends beyond individual initiatives to a holistic approach encompassing all spheres of banking operations. The Bank has embraced total sustainability as reflected in its new logo and practical commitment to business practices, including paperless transactions, responsible compliance practices and energy-efficient operations. Moving forward, the Bank will continue to explore best practices and opportunities to further digitalise and re-engineer processes through initiatives led by the Cost Optimisation Committee.

Reduction in paper usage (A4 bundles)

27, 000 - 2023 (51, 500 - 2022)

Water management

Cognisant of the importance of responsible water usage, the Bank has implemented various initiatives to minimise its water footprint while ensuring efficient water management across its operations. Although the Bank’s primary water requirement is for utility and sanitation purposes for its staff and customers, it has taken proactive steps to actively manage its daily water consumption.

One notable initiative undertaken by the Bank is the installation of dual-flushing water closets in all Bank-owned branch buildings. These water-saving fixtures are designed to reduce water usage by providing users with the option to use a lower volume of water for liquid waste and a higher volume for solid waste. The Bank has also implemented rainwater harvesting systems at select branches, including Wellawatte, Galle Fort and Jaffna. These systems allow the Bank to capture and store rainwater for various non-potable uses, such as irrigation and toilet flushing. By harnessing rainwater, Commercial Bank not only reduces its reliance on municipal water sources but also promotes sustainable water management practices. Furthermore, at the Bank’s Head Office premises, a tube well has been installed to supply water specifically for flushing toilets. This dedicated water source helps minimise the use of potable water for sanitation purposes, thereby conserving valuable freshwater resources. In addition to these specific initiatives, the Bank has also implemented a conscious effort to control daily water usage across all its operations. By promoting water-saving practices and raising awareness among staff and customers, the Bank aims to foster a culture of responsible water consumption throughout the organisation.

Offering sustainability training – Zero trash

Vibhava Solution offers comprehensive solutions spanning agriculture, reforestation, waste collection and corporate training and consultation, all geared towards assisting companies in achieving their environmental and social objectives in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Bank’s proposal entails the implementation of a training programme designed to enhance employee environmental awareness and empower them to champion environmental sustainability both within their professional roles and in their personal lives, thereby serving as catalysts for positive change. This training module covers areas such as waste management, home gardening and climate change fundamentals, equipping employees at all levels with the knowledge and skills needed to make a meaningful impact. Furthermore, the Bank aims to leverage this workshop as a platform to facilitate the planning, design and execution of community-based climate adaptation and mitigation.

Future Force Group

As a pioneering organisation committed to sustainability, Bank has recognised its role in supporting sustainable development of the country, while reducing our environmental footprint. In this context, establishment of Sustainability Group, is expected to create a platform for collaboration, innovation and knowledge-sharing among our staff members, customers and other stakeholders.

Future Force – The Sustainability Group of ComBank

Overall Goal

To create a platform for collaboration, innovation and knowledge-sharing among our staff members, customers and other stakeholders in the Sustainability sphere

future force

Encouraging sustainability-related innovation

Digitalised culture

The Bank achieved a notable reduction in its paper footprint, evident across various internal and external processes. The digitisation of inward remittances played a key role in minimising paperwork associated with remittances-based printing. Additionally, the automation of the internal audit process contributed to the Bank’s shift towards a paperless culture.

The upgrade of the AS400 server strengthened the core banking system, allowing it to efficiently handle increased workloads and adapt to traffic changes. This upgrade ensures high-performance, security and reliability. The automation of the Credit Information Bureau (CRIB) system has improved the Bank’s decision-making processes, leading to a reduction in man-hours and associated costs. The introduction of an integrated loan appraisal system, enhancing efficiency in report generation, marked a noteworthy development during the year.

Recognising and rewarding sustainability-related achievements

“Best Sustainable Branch & Department of the Year” Award

Figure – 36

Objectives & Goals


Recognise and commend the outstanding efforts of the Bank’s branches and departments

Promoting sustainability within the organisation and reducing our environmental impact

Inspire and motivate those within the organisation to become more sustainable

Award Categories



Evaluation Criteria

Sustainable Performance:

This criterion assesses the overall performance of the branch or department in incorporating sustainable practices into its day-to-day operations. This includes factors such as energy efficiency, waste reduction and adherence to sustainability guidelines.

Sustainable Innovations:

Recognising the importance of innovation in sustainability, this criterion evaluates the implementation of creative and novel solutions that contribute to environmental conservation and sustainable development.

Sustainable Behaviour:

Acknowledging that sustainable practices require a cultural shift, this criterion focuses on the behavioural aspects of teams. It assesses how well the team has embraced and integrated sustainable behaviours into their work ethics.

Sustainable Projects:

This criterion highlights the initiation and execution of sustainable projects by the branch or department. Projects that demonstrate a positive impact on the environment, community, or internal processes are particularly valued.

Volunteer Initiatives


27 Environment conservation projects were carried out during the year 2023

Incorporating sustainability into performance evaluations

The Bank employs specific key performance indicators (KPIs) as tangible metrics to evaluate its achievements in fulfilling both its corporate objectives and its obligations towards the community and the environment. Figure 31 presents 11 essential KPIs from the range of KPIs utilised by the Bank to evaluate its performance in sustainable banking, along with their corresponding pillars of sustainability as outlined by the Central Bank, the Bank’s own sustainability pillars and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) that the Bank contributes to.

UN SDG KPI The CBSL pillar Commercial
Bank pillar
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  • Realising growth targets within the Bank’s WSME portfolio
Financing Vision 2030 sdg icon 5
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  • Achieving a 25% increase in Green Financing disbursements
Financing Vision 2030
  • Advocating for green loans and leases, including initiatives such as rooftop
    solar power generation, hydro power generation and wind power generation schemes, to foster sustainable practices.
  • Ensuring regulatory compliance concerning environmental and social risk management, disclosures and reporting.
ESG integration into
financial market
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  • Enhancing the product range and expanding offerings to attract
    investments in sustainability sphere
Financing Vision 2030
  • Introducing novel strategies and services tailored to support MSMEs
  • Innovating loan products aligning with the Bank’s commitment
    to environmental sustainability
  • Supporting financing for export-oriented projects and import
    substitution initiatives.
Financial inclusion
  • Advancing Sustainable Digital Development initiatives.
  • Incorporating Social and Environmental risk assessment into the Bank's
    lending cycle and decision-making processes.
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  • Establishing robust monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
Measurement and reporting
  • Ensuring prompt and accurate submission of mandatory reports
    to regulatory authorities.
  • Conducting training sessions for staff to enhance awareness
    of sustainable finance principles.
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  • Promoting responsible consumption within the Bank:

    – Managing and reducing the Bank’s energy consumption.

    – Fostering a culture of sustainability throughout the Bank.

    – Adopting renewable energy sources and green building
    practices with regard to Bank’s own operations.

    – Implementing measures to reduce paper usage in the Bank
    operations and marketing.

    – Implementing energy-saving practices in IT operations,
    adhering to the “Energy Star” standard for IT equipment.

    – Fostering a culture of sustainability throughout the Bank.

Financing Vision 2030
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  • Engaging in international collaborations, platforms and partnerships.
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Expected outcomes of sustainable HR practices

Fostering a Sustainable Culture

Cultivating a culture of sustainability by driving the responsible organisation concept by promoting a green and safe workplace, sustainable products and services

Enhancing Trust and Brand Reputation

Promoting sustainable banking practices and engaging with the community to build trust among customers and enhance brand reputation

Managing Sustainability Risks

Identifying and effectively managing sustainability risks to minimise the potential for sustainability-related losses

Promoting Digital Banking

Encouraging increased digital transactions to promote the usage of digital banking services

Boosting Employee Satisfaction and Retention

Emphasising sustainability and community engagement initiatives to enhance employee satisfaction and ensure employee retention

Reducing Paper Usage and Waste

Implementing measures to reduce paper consumption and waste, which will result in reduced purchase, transportation and storage costs

Enhancing Energy Efficiency

Implementing strategies to reduce energy usage and improve operational efficiency, leading to minimum resource usage and cost savings

Sustainable supply chain

Logistical Framework

In 2023, the Bank continued its efforts to broaden its network of business partners as a strategic measure to ensure seamless operations, particularly in times of crisis. The established trust and connectivity between the Bank and its suppliers play a pivotal role in providing technology platforms, market access and essential materials and services, thereby sustaining the supply chains essential to the Bank’s operations. Throughout the year, the Bank actively engaged with over 1,500 business partners, enhancing the efficiency and reliability of its banking operations. The e-procurement system, introduced in 2020 and vital during the extended pandemic period, continued to serve as a critical supplier base, mitigating the impacts and challenges in the operating environment on banking operations and employee health. This enabled the Bank to ensure an above-par supply chain, maintaining smooth operational continuity. Supply chain logistics were meticulously calibrated to ensure each branch received required consumables in time to guarantee uninterrupted banking operations.

Procurements during this period prioritised uncompromised quality, introducing new avenues for digital products and innovative backend tools. The Bank made a significant investment of over Rs. 2.5 Bn. in Information Technology, with hardware and software acquisitions facilitated through strong supplier-business partner relationships cultivated over the years. Cost management remained a fundamental criterion in governing expenses for pioneering digital innovations.


A technical introduction to the practice of procurement was the slow infusion of artificial intelligence (AI) into the procurement process, for best placement of supply materials in the utility pipelines, to improve overall efficiency of the procurement exercises, bolster the underlying business intelligence and to offset traditional procurement practices that can compromise the punctuality of supply chains.

Collaboration and partnerships

Within the realm of sustainable banking, the Bank not only provides a robust suite of services but has also implemented effective monitoring and evaluation processes along with a comprehensive reporting mechanism to track the progress of sustainable banking. In 2022, the Bank partnered with the Market Development Facility organisation (MDF), an NGO under the Australian Government, dedicated to sustainable economic development. This collaboration aimed to uplift and empower farmers and micro-producers in the sphere of sustainable finance. The Bank’s support extends to community-based organisations, encompassing farmers, fishermen, cottage industries, women-led enterprises and other micro-businesses, fostering a sustainable supply chain.

At the SME Trade Fair, the Bank collaborated with the Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA) to conduct an awareness session for SMEs on how to reduce electricity consumption and energy bills by moving to renewable energy. The Bank has a Flexi-Payment Plan loan scheme for financing the establishment of solar-powered units. This initiative not only promotes financial inclusion but also aligns with green practices, showcasing the Bank’s commitment to both aspects simultaneously.

Process followed in integrating sustainability in the Supply Chain:

  • Supplier engagement:

    The Bank engages with their suppliers to encourage the adoption of sustainable practices, such as reducing waste and emissions, conserving water and energy and using environmentally-friendly materials

  • Sustainable procurement:

    The Bank adopts sustainable procurement policies that prioritise the purchase of goods and services that have a low environmental impact

  • Collaboration and partnerships:

    The Bank works with other organisations, such as non-profits and industry associations, to promote sustainability in their supply chain.