A consultation exercise has been launched to modernise the Co-operative Bank’s ethical policy.
Building on the Bank’s traditional ethics, such as human rights and animal welfare, the organisation is asking customers for views on new areas, including responsible banking, transparency, and treating customers fairly.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, chief executive Niall Booker said these values are essential to “helping rebuild trust in the banking sector”.
But following a turbulent 12 months for the Bank, which saw the revelation of a £1.5bn capital hole and separation from the Co-operative Group, Mr Booker said it is important to “renew and refresh our values and ethics to ensure that the next chapter of the Bank is true to its heritage and translated to today’s world”.
He added: “This is an important milestone in the transformation of our Bank. We have a clear turnaround plan with a vision to create a smaller, more efficient, sustainable bank focused on serving individuals and small and medium-sized businesses, which is set apart by its commitment to values and ethics.”
The ethical policy, a first for the banking sector, was launched 22 years ago and the Bank has reviewed it four times since then. After the last review, the Bank introduced nine new statements reflecting the changes in customers’ views. £1.2bn of lending has been turned down because it did not meet the requirements of the ethical policy.
In November 2013, values and ethics were written into the Bank’s constitution for the first time in its 140-year history. A board committee has been created, with Laura Carstensen from the Equality and Human Rights Commission appointed chair last month.
Ms Carstensen said: “It is a privilege and a great responsibility to take on this role at such a critical time in the Bank’s development. It is vital for the UK banking system, for society and for the Co-operative Bank that values and ethics are at the heart of what we do. My role is to make sure that happens so that customers and employees can be proud to be part of a uniquely ethical bank and so that all bank customers have that choice open to them.”
• The poll runs until 30th June and can be found online at www.co-operativebank.co.uk/poll