Environmental, social and governance: what we're doing

The UK's best rated high street bank for ESG*

In June 2021 The Co-operative Bank received an ESG rating of 9.2 from Sustainalytics; a leading, independent ESG and corporate governance research and analytics firm.

Read our announcement here.

We’re incredibly proud of the score we’ve received, confirming our place as the UK’s best rated high street bank* for ESG. With our new strategy, and exciting plans for 2022 and beyond, we’re working to maintain this position in the future, as we strive to continually deliver our unique, customer-led ethical commitments to both customers and stakeholders.

*Rated by Sustainalytics in the Regional Banks subindustry with a score of 9.2 as of 11 June 2021.

Reporting our ESG data

Every year we create our Values and Ethics in Action: Sustainability Report to publicly showcase our ESG data and highlights from that year. As the only UK bank with a customer-led Ethical Policy, our yearly sustainability report is a great way for you to see those values and ethics in action, alongside our commitments for the year ahead. 

To read our reports:

Download our latest report

View previous reports 

The Co-operative Bank and ESG: a break-down

The 3 individual areas which make up ESG are:

  • E - Environmental
  • S - Social
  • G - Governance.

These 3 areas are designed to help businesses create a socially and environmentally conscious culture, which serves the people, both internally within the business and externally, ethically guides business strategies, and works to protect the environment. Creating long-term, sustainable business.

How we work in the areas of ESG

Environmental focus

Protecting the environment has been one of the commitments within our Ethical Policy since 1992. Allowing us to track our environmental impact across 29 years. We have reported our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since 1998 and continue to see a downward trend in our carbon footprint.

Since 2007, we have offset our carbon emissions, plus an additional 10%, to address any previous impact of our business activities. Our ‘beyond carbon neutral’ status is helping the UK to achieve its Paris Climate Agreement commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to levels reported in 1990. We continue to source our electricity from renewable energy suppliers, in addition to minimum business travel throughout 2020 due to the restrictions of the global pandemic.

Having achieved a 47% decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions in 2020, we are targeting a 29% reduction on our 2019 baseline over 2021 and 2022.

Social impact

Making a difference and giving back to the communities in which we live and work is at the heart of our values, and plays a huge part in how we operate.

Our impact on society goes beyond the people to whom we are providing banking services, as we seek to drive positive social change through our community initiatives and in co-operation with the partnerships and charities we work with.

In 2020, our contribution to the national wealth, or ‘economic value generated and distributed’, was £379 million. Of this, our community investment was £1.6 million (£1.1 million in 2019). Economic value is distributed as salaries to employees and donations to charitable causes.


The co-operative values and Ethical Policy are incorporated in the Bank’s Articles of Association and established in the heart of our constitution. Meaning it plays a fundamental part in our conduct, in every aspect.

We have a Values and Ethics Committee, which provides Board level oversight on the delivery of our values and ethics policy and strategy; ensuring effective governance and accountability. This committee will continue to review the development of our ESG reporting and delivery of our strategy.

The Values and Ethics Committee met four times in 2020 and will continue to meet on a quarterly basis in 2021. The governance and implementation of co-operative values and our Ethical Policy were the key areas of focus for the Value and Ethics Committee in 2020.

Our future ESG commitments 

List of environmental commitments
List of social commitments
list of Governance commitments

Further ESG information

How we protect the environment

In addition to the above, you can find below more information and additional resources on the work we’ve carried out and ongoing projects in our commitment to protect the environment:

  • Supporting industry wide initiatives such as the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking.
  • Starting our journey to embed a full circular economy within our business in 2021.
  • We support environmental projects around the world through our carbon offsetting payments, in partnership with ClimateCare.
  • In 2020 we launched our ‘pop up van’, a fully electric vehicle that visits communities across the North West.
  • Our colleagues regularly use their volunteering time to support local environmental projects, including beach cleans and tree planting.

How we drive social change

Here at The Co-operative Bank, we know our colleagues and many of our customers are committed to driving social change in line with our Ethical Policy. Below, you can find more information and additional resources on how we support people and their communities:

  • Supporting UK co-operatives by funding The Hive, a business development programme for co-operatives, and by providing free banking services for UK co-operatives.
  • Supporting the third sector by providing free banking to charities, social enterprises and credit unions.
  • Our Community Direct Plus customers apply for funding from our Customer Donation Fund twice a year. We have supported over a thousand organisations with over £935,000 of funding; providing a wide range of projects which benefit the community.
  • Working to end youth homelessness through our partnership with Centrepoint.
  • Supporting survivors of economic abuse and driving positive change for its victims through our Know Economic Abuse campaign. In partnership with Refuge.
  • Defending human rights in partnership with Amnesty International UK and supporting the activities of our colleague Amnesty Group.
  • Through our Everyday Rewards Scheme our customers have helped us donate over £1Million for our charity partners since its launch in 2016.
  • Supporting our colleagues volunteering and fundraising activities through our employer supported volunteering and match-funding programme.
  • Ensuring access to basic bank accounts for under-served members of the community, including prisoner bank accounts and facilitating access to banking for homeless people.

How our values and ethics guide our business strategy

Our Ethical Policy is at the very foundation of who we are, and guides everything from our policies to our business strategies. Below, you can find more information and additional resources on our governing policies and legislation:

Find out more about our values and ethics.

Supporting our customers

At The Co-operative Bank, our customers and their welfare is at the forefront of everything we do. We know for many of our customers 2020 has been a particularly challenging year, due to Covid-19 and the challenges it’s presented. Below, you can find more details on our on going customer support, our partnerships and our Covid-19 customer support:

Supporting our colleagues

Here at The Co-operative Bank, we’re proud to be different. And we’re even prouder that it’s our people with purpose who make us different.

We help our colleagues connect with each other, with our customers, and with their communities. We reward them with more than just a competitive salary—offering an attractive range of benefits that support work-life balance, wellbeing, and career development.

Our diverse and competitive colleague proposition is underpinned by an environment and culture that attracts, develops, rewards, and retains talent, whilst achieving efficiency and sustainability for our bank.

Workplace and culture

Our Ethical Policy has five pillars which collectively define our commitment to deliver ethical banking. Pillar 4, ethical workplace and culture, ensures our workplace culture reflects our co-operative values and ethics by focusing on:

  • Our commitment to the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter. As one of the first banks to sign up to HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter in 2016, we set a target to increase female representation in our senior leadership from 32% to 40% by 2020; and now having achieved beyond this with 42%. We have set ourselves a new target of 45% by the end of 2022.
  • Supporting our wider communities. Colleagues have the opportunity to take 2 paid volunteering days every year, which colleagues can use to support local and national charities and community organisations. As a major employer in Manchester and the North West of England, we’ve supported a number of events across the region, including Manchester Pride and the Northern Power Women Awards.
  • Greater Manchester Good Employment Charter. We are the first financial services organisation to gain membership status through our ‘commitment to putting good employment into action and being exemplars of employment excellence’.
  • Our co-operative workplace. We work in close consultation with our recognised trade union on proposals for change, and work together proactively to understand the interests and needs of its members and our colleagues.

Inclusion networks

Our colleague inclusion networks are sponsored by members of our Executive Team and run by colleagues, for colleagues:

  • Access supports those with disabilities, long-term health conditions, mental health conditions and caring responsibilities.
  • REACH celebrates our Race, Ethnicity and Cultural Heritage –all the things that make us proud to be different.
  • Proud Together represents our LGBTQ+ colleagues across the Bank, and offers support and information on all things LGBTQ+.
  • Elevate is our gender inclusion network, enhancing colleagues' experiences at work and empowering members to achieve their potential.
  • Futures is our early careers network, providing career development support and opportunities for relevant networking.

You can read our full colleague proposition here.

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