OVERVIEW

A core value at Community Bank that is shared by the Company’s employees, executive leadership and Directors, is active engagement with not only the Company’s customers, but the civic institutions, non-profits, community organizations, schools and other groups that comprise the communities where we live and work. As a community bank, we are committed to supporting volunteerism, implementing environmentally sound practices, working with small business, and serving the broad financial service needs of the communities in our geographic market. In addition, we recognize that the development and support of the Company’s human capital is an essential element of the Company’s success.

In 2021, we are focused on furthering our strategy and approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) topics. As a result of feedback in our Shareholder engagement efforts, we recognize the continuing importance of these matters and will continue to assess how we align our business strategies with these goals. We understand that a thoughtful, coordinated approach to ESG will support a healthier, more sustainable future for our stakeholders including our investors, employees, communities we serve, and customers. We expect to build upon our core values as a community financial institution and our core mission of serving the financial needs of our communities. Commitment to people, our customers and employees, remains a key priority as we have put our customers and employees first during the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect our developing ESG strategy will align with the nature and scale of our business in respecting the environment and the evolution of ESG principles in our industry.

Below are recent highlights of the Company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and other community efforts:

 

COMMITMENT TO OUR PEOPLE- HUMAN CAPITAL INITIATIVES

We recognize that our people are essential to our success and are committed to supporting the development and well-being of each individual in a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Diversity Council. We are committed to fostering a workforce in an inclusive environment that enhances the culture of shared identity, civility, dignity, and respect. In 2020, the Company launched a company-wide Diversity Council to lead this effort and provide strategic direction and advocacy for these initiatives. The Council’s members play a vital role in creating the Company’s diversity initiatives and are comprised of employees from various areas of the Company’s business and geographic locations. The Council members, along with other employees who volunteer to act as “Council Ambassadors,” are responsible for advancing the Council’s message within their own network of employees. Their efforts demonstrate the Company’s commitment to creating a work environment where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and fully engaged to contribute their unique talents and transform that deeper understanding into the organization’s culture.

The CBSI Diversity Council includes 23 members and 83 ambassadors, all serving as representatives of our more than 3,000 employees. They are the eyes, the ears and, more importantly, the voices of the community that is our Company.

Our Mission is to put faces and names to the concepts of diversity and inclusion. We are here to make sure no one feels unheard, unseen or uninvited. Through that effort, we’ll foster a culture that doesn’t just accept diversity, but values it.

The Compensation Committee of the Board of Directors, in reviewing management objectives for 2021, included a performance objective in the 2021 Management Incentive Plan which requires the implementation and execution of an employee engagement survey to create an information gathering process to assist in the oversight and formulation of appropriate programs that will drive continuous improvement efforts towards a productive, evolving and diverse workforce.



Click here to see more about our Diversity Council and its current initiatives.

Commitment to Our Core Values. Through its Human Resources programs, the Company has established the following set of core values to guide our employees and exemplify our commitment to each other, our customers, and the communities we serve:

 

Commitment to Prioritizing Our Employees and Customers during the Covid-19 Pandemic. As the COVID-19 events unfolded throughout 2020, the Company implemented various plans, strategies and protocols to protect our employees and customers. In order to protect our employees and assure workforce continuity and operational redundancy, the Company imposed travel restrictions, implemented quarantine and work from home protocols and physically separated, to the extent possible, the critical workforce segments that are unable to work remotely. To limit the risk of virus spread, the Company implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitation processes for both branches and office administration spaces and implemented drive-thru only and by appointment operating protocols for its extensive Bank branch network. We did not have any employee layoffs or furloughs as a result of the pandemic. The safety of our customers, employees and communities will always remain our top priority.

Commitment to Talent Management and Employee Development.  The Company offers programs designed to develop each individual’s talents in an open and productive work place to develop its next generation of leaders.  The Company’s Human Resources function oversees and facilitates corporate-wide in-house and external leadership and professional development programs to provide various offerings that drive continuous improvement efforts toward a cohesive, evolving and diverse workforce.  The focus is to bring self-awareness regarding biases and to drive behavioral change to build positive working relationships.  Various programs, workshops and initiatives address key elements promoting inclusion, cultural diversity, gender equality, women leadership and development, and a multi-generational workforce.  The Human Resources function utilizes a dynamic online learning platform that is available to all employees at its various geographical locations to deliver interactive educational and training modules.  These educational modules include training on diversity and inclusion, awareness of biases, anti-discrimination, and compliance, which are required for all employees.  In addition, the system provides a vast library of industry-specific and development courseware to promote a learning culture and development of each individual’s potential. The Company also works to continue to broaden the scope of its talent development initiatives across our widening geographically diverse footprint in order to sustain a value-driven and growth-oriented environment where employees can perform at their peak and the next generation of leaders are prepared to lead.  The Company’s Human Resources function offers a variety of programs and continuing education dedicated to strengthen employee engagement, personal accountability, productivity, and emotional well-being. 

Click here to see more information about our “Work Happy” Mission and our commitment to our employees by providing the highest level of employee support, whether through our benefits, our professional development or our challenging but rewarding professional experiences.


COMMITMENT TO OUR COMMUNITY- ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL INITIATIVES

We continue to look for opportunities to integrate sustainability and corporate responsibility into our business practices as we refine and develop our ESG strategy to focus on delivering community focused products and services while creating long-term sustainable value for all of our stakeholders. Set forth below are some of the environmental and social initiatives we focused on in 2020:

Commitment to Helping Others. We remain committed to strengthening the communities we serve through employee volunteerism and corporate engagement and support with a focus on serving those who are underserved in the local communities where we do business. We do this through financial support, in-kind donations, community engagement, and volunteer service. The Company made approximately $2.3 million in donations, grants and sponsorships in the Bank’s footprint of Upstate New York, Northeast Pennsylvania, Vermont and Western Massachusetts in 2020. Even though COVID-19 made it challenging for our employees to volunteer at the same levels they have in the past, during 2020 our employees gave generously of their time and expertise by donating over 4,650 volunteer hours. They actively participated in over 2,100 causes and organizations, often by serving on the boards of leading community charities and organizations and supporting these organization in other ways.

In addition, the Bank migrated its Financial Literacy program to an online “hub” to expand the reach of the program during COVID. Traditionally, our branch staff goes into our communities to lead and teach financial literacy in group sessions ranging from school age children to senior citizens but, because of the social distancing restrictions imposed during the pandemic, our employees looked for new methods to spread the message during 2020 which resulted in the new online program.

Click here to see more information about our Community Involvement initiatives and our 2020 Community Report.

Commitment to Community-Focused Mortgage Banking. For more than 150 years, the Bank has served the financial needs of its customers. The Bank participates in a number of lending programs offered by state and federal agencies designed to encourage first time home ownership, affordable home mortgages for those in lower and moderate-income groups, and mortgages for those living in rural areas that would not be eligible for traditional mortgage products. In addition, the Bank offers a “No Closing Cost” mortgage product that affords borrowers the ability to attain home ownership while the Bank absorbs mortgage related costs, such as filing fees, bank legal fees, appraisal, application, and underwriting/processing fees, provided that the borrower does not prepay the mortgage within three years of the closing.

Commitment to Supporting Local Businesses. The Bank has a staff of consumer and commercial lending professionals who are dedicated to servicing those living in traditionally under-served markets within the Bank’s footprint with the goal of promoting financial literacy and access to affordable financing. Because small businesses foster local economies by keeping money close to home and supporting neighborhoods and communities, the Bank also works with government agencies to offer lending programs to small businesses and agricultural loan products. The Bank has financed business projects that help enrich and revitalize the communities where it operates, including financing for health care facilities, solar energy companies, farming operations, addiction counseling services, places of worship, ambulance companies, and community theaters. The goal of all of these efforts is to provide support and opportunities to cultivate robust communities for the Company’s customers, employees, and stakeholders.

Commitment to Protecting Our Customers’ Data. We are committed to providing a superior level of customer care and support by safeguarding our customers’ data. The Company’s employees and business partners continually look for ways to provide the Company’s clients with enhanced product offerings while maintaining and enhancing its high level of cyber and information security controls to protect the Bank’s data, applications and networks. The Company has invested significant resources into staying abreast of potential cybersecurity threats. We believe it is important for all employees to have an understanding of the risks and regulations for security and cyber activities; therefore, we require all employees to participate in on-going training programs on this topic throughout the year.

Commitment to Ethical Business Practices and Balancing Business Risk. The Board of Directors has adopted the Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct to make clear its expectation for the conduct of our Directors, officers and employees. We ensure compliance with these Codes through training and monitoring so that we can maintain our track record of business success based upon the highest level of ethics and professionalism. Each employees is required to complete online training and testing to verify their understanding of the legal requirements in which we must operate, including but not limited to training on unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices, fair lending, and anti-money laundering.

We also carefully monitor Enterprise Risk Management topics through a highly efficient and effective operations and risk management team with Board oversight over the various areas of our business that subject the Company to risks. Through our risk management oversight, we are committed to ensuring that our business decisions conform to the Company’s risk appetite statement. We encourage active engagement among the different areas within the Company responsible for our risk management oversight. Because risk management issues and processes are considered by various Board committees, our governance structure ensures that appropriate information and knowledge is disseminated among the Board and its Committees.

Commitment to Environmental Initiatives. The Company supports environmental responsibility and sustainability by encouraging recycling and responsible waste management practices, and energy conservation throughout the organization. We continue to evaluate opportunities to reduce energy consumption in areas such as facilities, equipment, and operations by moving to more efficient equipment, HVAC systems, lighting and use of technology solutions to reduce our energy usage. We recycle all of our electronics to ensure that harmful toxins do not end up in landfills and pollute the environment. The Bank provides and encourages the use of e-statements to its customers, and the Company, through its financial subsidiaries, has ongoing initiatives to eliminate paper and move to electronic documentation in its business activities by expanding the use of online platforms for account opening, communications, statements, and lending products, as well as its internal administrative systems. The Bank is committed to expanding its use of electronic documentation and digital platforms to preserve natural resources and streamline its business processes.


COMMITMENT TO STRONG CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

We are committed to strong corporate governance policies, practices, and procedures designed to make the Board more effective in exercising its oversight role. The following section provides an overview of the Company’s corporate governance structure, including key governance documents that guide the Board and management in the performance of their duties which are regularly reviewed by the Board.

Click here to see our Annual Proxy Statement for more information about our corporate policies, practices, and procedures.

Governance Highlights. The Board of Directors is committed to sound and effective corporate governance that conforms to the highest standards of business ethics and integrity, provides robust oversight of management and promotes the long-term interests of our Shareholders. The Board regularly reviews the Company’s governance practices, industry developments, and Shareholder feedback to ensure continued effectiveness. Below are selected highlights of the Company’s corporate governance program.


Board Composition and Refreshment. The Directors strive to maintain a highly engaged Board with balanced tenure and substantive expertise that has the diversity of skills and backgrounds necessary to effectively oversee the Company’s management team and serve the long-term interests of the Company’s Shareholders.

The Company has significantly increased the Board’s gender diversity and the level of identified skill sets over the last two years and has had a woman Chair of the Board for the last five years. As compared to the composition of the Board of Directors at the Annual Shareholder Meeting held in May 2019, the gender diversity of the Board has increased by 16% with the addition of Kerrie D. MacPherson in 2019 and Susan E. Skerritt in 2020.

A balanced Board composition, supplemented by a thoughtful approach to Director refreshment, is a priority for the Company.  The Governance Committee considers the experience, skills, independence and diversity of nominees in the full context of the current composition and needs of the Board.  The Governance Committee endeavors to identify nominees that possess diverse business experiences, skill sets, and geographic backgrounds reflecting the Company’s markets.  In addition, the Governance Committee believes a stronger Board is one that reflects diversity.  The Governance Committee also believes it is desirable to maintain a mix of experiences, tenured directors who possess institutional knowledge along with newer Directors who have different expertise, backgrounds and fresh perspectives in forming a cohesive and dedicated Board.


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