Situation: Focused mainly on portfolio management and investment banking, Sal. Oppenheim is Europe’s largest private bank. As a share-limited company, Sal. Oppenheim issues a yearly business report. Up to now, the limited number of printed versions circulated among a rather small „inner“ group of readers. With its continuing expansion of social and cultural patronage, the bank entered a new era of reporting 2004. The annual printed version of relevant statistics fulfilled the bank’s reporting responsibilities. However, the public could not see the theme of the bank’s social and cultural involvement so obvious in the printed report. Detailed information about the social and cultural responsibilities assumed by the bank can be a valuable public relations instrument. Properly conceptualized, a report that is readily available to a broad spectrum of the public can be a valuable image enhancement tool for the bank.
With its patronage of education, art, science and architecture, Sal. Oppenheim epitomizes the concept of corporate cultural responsibility: socially motivated investment in the future, with no expectation of financial return. The first online business report must reflect this concept on the Web. It must also be available and easily accessible, that is barrier-free, to all interested persons. Barrier-free means accessibility for everyone, even persons with computer-technical restrictions or physical disabilities such as impaired vision. A study done by ibi Research of the University of Regensburg used 276 criteria to examine the Internet presence of 400 retail banks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The study findings were alarming: Almost all the websites had technical problems that restricted access to the information that was supposedly available.