Co-op takes tougher line on ethical banking

THE CO-OPERATIVE Bank is setting new standards in social responsibility and ecological sustainability in a move that will challenge companies that have sought to bolster their reputation by stressing their commitment to the wider community.

Organisations such as Body Shop, Traidcraft, the ethical trading company and, in the US, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, have led the way with social audits, while BT, ICI and BP have begun to produce environmental reports and GrandMet, now part of Diageo, has benchmarked its community involvement. But the bank says its report, to be issued alongside its annual results next week, goes further in demonstrating how success in delivering value is dependent on the relationships between an organisation and its staff, customers, suppliers and other partners.

This partnership approach, launched last year, is seen as a natural progression from such moves as the development of an ethical policy and an ecological mission statement introduced earlier this decade.

Pointing out the impossibility of satisfying all of these groups at once, the bank's managers have devised an approach based on having the bank at the centre of seven partners - shareholders (in this case just one, the Co-operative Wholesale Society), customers, staff and their families, suppliers, local communities, national and international society, and past and future generations of "co-operators".

The challenge, said Simon Williams, head of corporate affairs, was to achieve a balance between all these groups. It was important not to see looking at the wider issues as an alternative to focusing on the financial aspects of running a business, he added. "It's a way of making a profit. It's not philanthropy or do-goodism - it's hard business."

Nevertheless, the bank claims the environmental aspects of the report have been assessed far more rigorously than those of many other companies because they have been subjected to the standards of a Swedish body called The Natural Step.

The bank claims it is taking the partnership issues - ranging from treatment of staff to encouraging its suppliers to adopt the highest environment standards - so seriously that it is locked in a dispute with PVC manufacturers over its campaign to reduce the use of the material in credit and other cards. Last May, it launched a card made from plant-based rather than oil-derived plastic.

And, besides winning approving comments from the verifiers - Business in the Community, the Centre for Tomorrow's Company and social audit consultants ethics etc - the report has been praised by Jonathon Porritt of Forum for the Future, which campaigns for sustainable development.

peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

PA to CEO / Executive Secretary

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Executive PA to CEO & Executive Dire...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Senior C# Developer (.NET, C#, JMS, TDD, Web API, MVC, integrat

£45000 - £75000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior C...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis