As a Main Street bank, we are committed to delivering on each of our strategic priorities while looking out for the best interests of all of our stakeholders, including our employees, communities, customers and shareholders. We believe that our success will be proportional to the prosperity we help to create for each of these stakeholders. This belief, along with our corporate values, shapes how we do business. It drives us to build a talent-focused culture full of opportunities for our employees, strengthen our communities, deliver exceptional customer experiences and put doing what is right ahead of every other consideration. And through the years, this approach has enabled us to earn our stakeholders’ trust.
At PNC, we believe that our company should serve a greater purpose. Our philosophy, as a Main Street bank, is that our prosperity will be proportional to the prosperity we help to create for our employees, for our customers and in the communities where we operate.
In 2018, we achieved strong financial results while building meaningful connections with our stakeholders and driving positive impacts across our markets. As a result, we ranked second among superregional banks on Fortune’s 2019 list of the Most Admired Companies and third among financial institutions on Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies list for 2019.
While significant in and of themselves, these accolades are especially noteworthy now, during a time of rapid change in our industry and against the backdrop of a constantly evolving political and environmental landscape. Today, a growing percentage of our clients demand that virtually everything that can be done within a branch – and more – be available online and in the palms of their hands. Consumers’ purchasing behavior is being driven now more than ever before by the values they associate with corporate brands. And environmental issues, including climate change, are impacting our business, our employees, our clients and the communities in which we operate.
Our commitment, as a Main Street Bank, is to respond to this change in a way that aligns with our corporate culture, minimizes risk and maximizes value for our stakeholders.
To that end, in 2018, we supported our employees by implementing a $15 per hour minimum wage across the company and by enhancing and expanding career planning and development resources. We are also holding managers more accountable for building diverse, high-performing teams and for identifying and moving talented employees up through the organization.
Further, we continued our work to create a more inclusive environment and to give our employees a more powerful voice within the company. In the third quarter, we launched a new survey tool – VoiceEX – which gives employees an opportunity to share their ideas and perceptions of PNC with management. More than 75% of employees responded to the first survey, providing nearly 100,000 individual comments that we will use to identify and address existing issues as well as to shape future decisions on topics ranging from benefits to business operations.
In our communities, PNC provided more than $3.2 billion in financing that benefited low- and moderate-income families and communities, including more than $2.3 billion in community development loans. In addition, the PNC Foundation and PNC Bank provided more than $77 million in charitable giving and sponsorships, the majority of which supports education, the arts and economic development.
Across our markets, our signature philanthropic effort – PNC Grow Up Great® – continues in its 15th year to enhance quality and access to early childhood education, working with local partners to provide early learning opportunities for families that may not otherwise have the means to participate. As part of the 15th anniversary celebration, we announced this year an additional $150 million, making PNC Grow Up Great a $500 million initiative benefiting 40 markets. We’ve also extended our alliance with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects individual donors with classrooms in need, by awarding another $5 million grant from the PNC Foundation to help preschool teachers obtain high-quality resources and learning experiences for their students.
I am pleased to share the news that, as a result of our ongoing investments in and commitment to the communities we serve, PNC recently received an "Outstanding" Community Reinvestment Act rating from the Office of the Controller of the Currency – the highest possible rating and one that we are proud to have earned for every exam period since the inception of the CRA in 1977.
Additionally, we continue to invest in better serving, protecting and connecting with our customers. In 2018, we launched an advanced platform that analyzes transactions for suspicious activity and provides real-time alerts. We invested in new tools that further validate a customer's identity, strengthening our efforts to protect against identity theft and fraudulent account openings, and began using intelligent automation to create better service experiences, strengthen security and compliance, and streamline processes to reduce costs.
We also launched a virtual call center model, which allows us to better serve our customers regardless of their location, and announced the national expansion of our retail banking business, which connects us with new customers who reside outside of our existing retail branch network. Further, we continue to invest in better serving our increasingly diverse customer base, including women, non-traditional families, non-English-speaking customers and those with disabilities.
Furthermore, as one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, we understand the importance of balancing financial priorities with environmental issues. Being conscientious stewards of the environment not only supports a broader transition to a low-carbon economy, but also enables us to better compete and subsequently yield long-term financial benefits. For these reasons, among others, we are focused on reducing the environmental impact of our internal operations while lending to clean energy projects and managing environmental risks across our lending portfolio. In addition to reducing our carbon emissions and energy and water consumption, we’ve enhanced our sustainable finance governance and tracking, grown our responsible investing assets under management, and enhanced our environmental risk management due diligence. We also recently joined Ceres Company Network, which we expect will help us enhance our sustainability strategy, and have committed to pursuing 100% renewable energy by 2025.
While we made considerable progress in 2018, we recognize that we have work still to do. The findings of our 2018 materiality analysis, which can be found later in this report, will guide much of this work, including our ongoing stakeholder engagement. We will continue our work to meet the goals outlined in our corporate social responsibility (CSR) scorecard and also aim to focus on those goals that have the greatest impact on PNC and our stakeholders. In addition, we have an opportunity to enhance our environmental, social and governance disclosures, and are determining how we can best support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Overall, we are pleased with our 2018 performance and are confident that our work this past year has positioned us for greater progress in 2019 and beyond. I invite you to follow this progress through our quarterly financial reports and on our CSR website, where you’ll find our annual CSR reports and quarterly CSR newsletters, along with our scorecard, video and executive summary. Thank you for your support, trust and interest in PNC.
Chairman, President &
Chief Executive Officer
in capital to our shareholders in the
forms of both common stock dividends
and share repurchases.