The Co-operative Bank has recently supported more than 600 co-ops, reduced its carbon emissions by 39%, and refused to give accounts to businesses associated with oppressive regimes and poor labour standards, according to its newly published Values and Ethics Report 2018.
Although The Co-op Group sold its remaining stake in the business in 2017, the bank says it remains committed to co-operative values and principles. It has put £1.3m into The Hive, a co-op development programme delivered by Co-operatives UK – and in 2018 extended its funding to keep The Hive going until 2020.
“The Hive gives co-operative businesses access to the expert advice and guidance they need to thrive. Since the start of the programme to the end of 2018, 642 groups have benefitted from support worth over £300,000, which has impacted approximately 25,000 people,” the report says.
The report details a range of ethical activities and achievements last year – from its choice of products and services, to campaigns and its own workplace culture. It also details a number of cases where the bank refused potential customers who did not meet its Ethical Policy standards. These included a consultancy involved in advising the government of an oppressive regime; a jewellery business directly linked with sourcing gemstones from a region where there’s evidence of poor labour standards; and a farming business that failed to meet adequate standards of animal welfare.
Reducing its impact on the environment, the bank reported a 39% decrease in carbon emissions from 2017 – mostly due to the relocation of its head offices to new premises in Manchester. It has also set a target of achieving zero waste to landfill by the end of 2020. “Well do this by reducing single use plastics and other consumables across our business and increasing our recycling,” the report says.
Co-operative Bank CEO, Andrew Bester, said: “We are the only UK high street bank with a customer-led Ethical Policy that underpins everything we do. This report is our way of showing you how we lived up to those Ethical Policy commitments in 2018.”