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Values and Ethics

We were born from the co-operative movement. We continue with co-operative values.



What makes us different

At The Co-operative Bank, we have always been driven by something diferent: an ethical approach to banking. It’s why we were the first UK high street bank to introduce a customer-led Ethical Policy – a policy that’s been shaped by over 320,000 customer responses since 1992.

This year, we’re marking the 25th anniversary of our Ethical Policy. We have worked together to tackle the things that matter to you. From climate change to human rights. And while a lot has changed in that time, we’re as committed as ever to:

  • Listening and caring about what matters to you.
  • Making sure that your money is being used for good.
  • Campaigning for what you think is right.

It’s an ongoing effort, and it’s our written promise to make sure your money and ethical values always go hand in hand.

Our Ethical Policy

We’ve reviewed our Ethical Policy five times since it first launched in 1992 - and periodically conduct customer polls, to ensure that policy still reflects what they care about.

We’re also independently audited every year, to make sure we keep our commitments and maintain an Ethical Policy that reflects our customers’ values.

You can read our Policy, report and latest poll results below.

Important documents

Key ethical areas

Our ethical policy is based around five pillars:

  • Ethical banking

    We are clear about the types of organisations we will and won’t provide banking services to, because of our customers’ ethical concerns.

  • Ethical products and services

    We are a responsible bank that treats customers fairly and we support organisations that make a positive diference for people and the environment.

  • Ethical business

    We conduct our business with honesty and transparency and we take responsibility for our environmental impacts.

  • Ethical workplace and culture

    We ensure our values and ethics are central to the way we work together for the benefit of our customers.

  • Ethical campaigning

    We campaign for social and economic change, on the issues that matter most to our customers and where we believe we can make the biggest difference.

Learn about our pillars

A history of our Values & Ethics

  • 1872  - 

    The Co-operative Wholesale Society establishes a ‘Loan and Deposit Department’ twenty-eight years after forming the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Co-operative Society.

  • 1930’s  - 

    A new Head Office is opened in Manchester to serve 11,000 mutual societies and clubs.

  • 1968  - 

    We changed our name to The Co-operative Bank.

  • 1974  - 

    We were the first UK Bank to introduce free banking for accounts in credit.

  • 1992  - 

    We introduced our customer-led Ethical Policy which focused on our customers’ key concerns including oppressive regimes, animal testing on cosmetics, fur trade and blood sports.

  • 1995  - 

    We conducted the first review of the Policy which incorporated our support for Fair trade.

  • 1996  - 

    Our opposition to transfer of arms to oppressive regimes led to our anti-landmine campaign.

  • 1997  - 

    The ‘Ottawa mine ban treaty’ bans the production and sale of landmines, the focus of our Landmine campaign in 1996.

  • 1998  - 

    After the second review of the Ethical Policy, we extended the policy to include statements on climate change, deforestation and unnatural chemicals.

  • 2001  - 

    After the third review of the Ethical Policy, we added statements on labour rights and genetic modification.

  • 2002  - 

    We launched the report Unexploded Remnants of War as part of our cluster bomb campaign calling for the protection of civilians from the effects of unexploded cluster bombs.

  • 2004  - 

    Our Safer Chemicals campaign called for better regulation of chemical harmful to human health and the environment.

  • 2005  - 

    We partnered with Christian Aid and the Trade Justice Movement to call for fairer international trade rules, a significant contributor to poverty in developing countries as part of the Make Poverty History movement.

  • 2006  - 

    We launched our ‘Combating Climate Change’ campaign in support of Friends of the Earth, which saw our customers lobbying MPs for a strong climate change bill.

  • 2007  - 

    In line with our position to uphold basic human rights around the world, we celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and publicly supported calls for human rights to be respected, notably in Burma during the 2007 Uprising.

  • 2007  - 

    We became the first bank to go ‘beyond carbon neutral.’ We source 99% of our energy from renewable sources and our carbon offsetting programme supports carbon reduction projects that also improve the health and wellbeing of some of the world’s poorest communities.

  • 2007  - 

    EU introduces REACH legislation to phase out the most harmful chemicals which had been the focus of our Safer Chemicals campaign in 2004.

  • 2008  - 

    The Climate Change Act became law setting legally binding targets for year-on-year reductions in CO2 emissions following action by our customers in 2006.

  • 2008  - 

    The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the stockpiling, use and transfer of cluster bombs, but it also provides for the clearing up of countries littered with unexploded munitions.

  • 2009  - 

    After the fourth review of the Ethical Policy, we extended the policy to cover all indiscriminate weapons, the distribution of fuels with a particularly high global warming impact and the exploitation of great apes.

  • 2013  - 

    EU bans the sale and import of cosmetics and ingredients tested on animals, a stance we have supported in our Ethical Policy since 1992.

  • 2014  - 

    Co-operative values and ethics were embedded in the bank’s articles of association for the first time.

  • 2014  - 

    More than 74,000 customers took part in our ethical poll – the fifth we had conducted since it launched in 1992. The Ethical Policy was extended to the five pillars we have today.

  • 2015  - 

    We were the first UK high street bank to sign the Paris Pledge denying finance for coal mining and power generation.

  • 2015  - 

    Our customers wanted us to return to campaigning. So we did. Partnering with the UK domestic violence charity, Refuge, our ‘My money, my life’ campaign demonstrated the extent of financial abuse in intimate partner relationships in the UK. The Bank is leading the industry in establishing a ‘Code of Practice’ to help those afected by financial abuse.

  • 2016  - 

    We are the only UK based bank included in the 'Don't Bank the Bomb' Hall of Fame for denying finance for the manufacture or transfer of indiscriminate weapons.

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