Tuesday, 13 November 2007

15 years of ethical banking

Tonight I went along to a reception celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Co-operative Bank launching its ethical policy. This is still a unique initiative in that the issues it covers are decided by its customers, and to date the bank has turned away hundreds of millions of pounds of business from companies that don't meet its customers ethical criteria.

When ethical investment and ethical banking first appeared many cynics in the City predicted such initiatives would fail, and the Co-op Bank was targeted with legal action by some corporate lobbyists. The bank's chief exec said in his speech tonight that they had even been banned from advertising in Vogue! Anyway, 15 years on some of the stances it took which seemed radical at the time are now very mainstream - climate change, landmines, animal testing and so on.

Personally I find the bank's policy a very inspiring example of what can be done if people make a conscious decision to try and apply some principles to their financial assets. Now if we can just get unions to think seriously about what they are doing about their money...

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