The Co-operative Bank has signed a formal recognition agreement with The Customer Union for Ethical Banking, an independent organisation representing thousands of Co-operative Bank customers concerned about the UK’s social and environmental issues (see coverage in The Guardian here).
The Customer Union for Ethical Banking, a member-owned co-operative, was established in 2016 following a successful crowd-funding campaign. It has 10,000 members and supporters who are customers of the Co-operative Bank. It exists to represent customers who are keen to ensure the Bank maintains and extends its unique customer-led Ethical Policy. As a united voice, members can join together to press for the kind of policies and products they want the Bank to consider. The Union and the Bank have been engaging informally for several years and have built a good working relationship.
Not only has the bank got a courteous and efficient customer advocate team (including Justine and Joe) but its Ethical Policy has included a commitment not to bank any business whose core activity contributes to global climate change via fossil fuel extraction or production since 1988. In 2015 it was the only UK bank to sign the Paris Pledge to end financing for the coal industry and in September 2019 the Bank gave colleagues time off to support the Global Climate Strike.
Lesley McPherson Director of Communications Co-operative Bank and Shaun Fensom Customer Union for Ethical Banking, sign the agreement
Earlier this year, the bank agreed to reinstate a special external audit of its values and ethics report after the union raised concerns. That audit – which took place every year since 1998 – is meant to independently assess whether the Coop Bank is actually implementing its policies.
Co-op Bank’s chief executive, Andrew Bester, said: “It’s fantastic that we have a group of loyal customers as committed to our ethical brand as we are – and our regular conversations with the customer union are positive and very valuable in terms of understanding what matters to them.”