The Federation of French Popular Banks have published their annual Blue Guide, which measures their commitment to co-operative and social responsibility actions.
The report reveals that the sector carried out 3,500 co-operative and social responsibility initiatives, on which it spent €98.7m. These include projects to strengthen co-operative governance, reduce impact on the environment and meet the needs of customers.
The report also focuses on actions to improve the work environment for employees and tackle discrimination. The banks allocated a joint total of €1.2m to projects dedicated to safeguarding people’s rights: 45% of these related to supporting senior citizens, 45% for gender equality, 8% for diversity and 2% for supporting people with disabilities.
Another area of focus is compliance with the seven co-operative principles, including concern for community. Popular banks spent a total of €21.2m on supporting and engaging with their local communities, through direct sponsorship, the federation’s own National Enterprise Foundation or non-commercial partnerships. The Foundation was set up in 1994 to fund musicians, craftsmen or people with disabilities to set up their own enterprises.
The report also features interviews with co-operative bank leaders, who describe some of their most recent co-operative and social responsibility projects. Among them is Banque Populaire du Sud, which recently launched EQWI, an online banking platform for customers needing loans for sustainable projects, such as buying electric cars.
Every year, popular banks also carry out a report examining their carbon footprint. To compensate for their CO2 emissions, the banks support initiatives aimed at increasing biodiversity, boosting the share of renewables of managing natural resources. They do so through sponsorships, grants and prizes awarded to projects designed to help protect the environment.
Other measures include using 100% renewable energy – this is the case for seven of the 14 popular banks included in the survey; encouraging employees to travel by bike – four popular banks do this; and using building that are eco-friendly – seven banks have 12 eco-friendly buildings.
In Saint-Quentin, the Banque Populaire Val de France has launched a scheme called SOY Share through which electric vehicles will be made available to employees to share. The bank is joining two other businesses and the employees of the three organisations will be able to reserve vehicles using a mobile app.
The report focuses on 28 actions taken by popular banks, two for each of the 14 popular banks who are members of the federation.