Environmental, social and governance: what we're doing

Environmental, Social and Governance Approach

Our commitment to the co-operative values and principles on which we were built remains as strong as ever, with ESG principles embedded within the business every day.

Find out more about our Environmental, Social and Governance approach here.

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.

Our Sustainability Report 2021

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 - Environment
    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

    If you have enquiries as an existing investor, or want to find out more about becoming a new investor, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can easily contact a member of our investor relations team using the details below.

    Environmental focus

    Our commitment to protecting the environment was formalised 30 years ago when we launched our Ethical Policy. In 2021 we were recognised as the UK’s best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rated high street bank by leading ESG ratings agency, Sustainalytics – with an ESG risk score of just 9.2*.

    In 2021 we have continued to see a downward trend in our operational greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2007 we have offset our operational carbon emissions plus an additional 10% to address the impact of our business activities in the past and will offset our 2021 emissions in line with this commitment. We continue to source our electricity from renewable energy suppliers and have continued to keep business travel to a minimum again this year.

    Having achieved an 18% year-on-year decrease in our operational greenhouse gas emissions in 2021, we have now achieved a 55% reduction on our 2019 baseline. While this is an achievement to be proud of, we recognise that it is largely due to changes in our day-to-day operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our challenge is to continue this trend in 2022 and beyond.

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

    Social impact

    We remain committed to holding co-operative principles at the heart of our business and we strive to demonstrate co-operative values in everything we do. We recognise that our impact on society goes beyond our customer base and we therefore seek to drive positive social change, working in partnership and co-operation with charities and community organisations.

    Our colleagues remain enthusiastic volunteers, fundraisers and campaigners. Their support in helping us to achieve our social goals in 2021 has been inspiring.

    Many of our customers have needed additional support as the pandemic has continued in 2021. We’re grateful for our partnership with Citizens Advice Manchester, which allows us to make a direct, priority referral to their vital services.


    Co-operative values and the Bank’s Ethical Policy are incorporated into the Articles of Association and established at the heart of our constitution.

    The Board level Values and Ethics Committee ensures that co-operative values and the issues that are important to our customers are reflected in everything we do. It has oversight of the governance around the types of businesses we refuse banking services to, the causes we support and the issues the Bank campaigns on.

    The Values and Ethics Committee met four times in 2021 and will continue to meet on a quarterly basis in 2022. You can read the chair of the committee’s report for 2021 in our Annual Report and Accounts.

    With input from the Executive Committee, the Values and Ethics Committee will continue to review the development of our ESG reporting. This will include the recommendations of the Financial Stability Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) as we begin to implement these into our reporting.

    Our future ESG commitments 

    • Our operations remained carbon neutral in 2021, with an additional offset of 10% to address historic emissions. In 2022 we’ll assess the impact of our indirect emissions with a view to announcing our net zero target date at the end of the year.
    • We did not send any operational waste to landfill in 2021 and 70% of our waste was recycled*. We continued to develop our circular economy strategy. In 2022 we will aim to recycle at least 60% of operational waste by the end of 2022.
    • We reduced our energy consumption by 18% year-on-year and sourced all directly procured electricity from renewable sources.
      In 2022 We’ll keep our operational GHG emissions intensity ratio below 1.8 from our 2019 baseline of 2.4

    • In 2021 we delivered the key infrastructure for our SME business to enable sustainable growth in the future. In 2022 we’ll continue to support the co-operative sector and work towards a 14% increase in our co-operative business customer base.
    • Our work with Refuge led to the launch of a cross-sector commission into the impact of online banking on those experiencing economic abuse. We’ll work with our charity partners and acting on the findings of the Online Banking Commission on Economic Abuse with Refuge.
    • In 2021 our colleagues took part in 1,980 hours of volunteering. That’s over 300% more than in 2020. In 2022 we’ll continue to support our local communities particularly in the North West and increase volunteering hours by 10%.
    • The Board has approved that in 2022 and going forward, Executive pay will be linked to delivery of our ESG commitments.
    • In 2021 we continued to have at least 40% of senior positions filled by women. We have re-stated our target to have 45% of senior positions filled by women by the end of 2023.
    • We continue to decline business banking services to any business that conflicts with our Ethical Policy. In 2022 we will launch an updated Ethical Policy, shaped by the views of our customers. We’ll launch ESG labelled bonds, Green Mortgages and Homeless Bank Accounts.

    Introducing our Green, Social and Sustainability (GSS) Financing framework

    We have launched our GSS Financing Framework to connect our purpose with our wholesale market financing strategy. This framework will facilitate secured and unsecured funding of assets with clear environmental or social benefits that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and demonstrate our commitment to ESG and sustainable finance.

    View our latest GSS Financing framework

    View our GSS Financing Framework Second Party Opinion

    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 £986,045 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 £1.3million 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.

    Step up
    Do the right thing
    Take responsibility
    Stronger together

    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.

    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.

    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 we have re-stated our target to have 45% of senior positions filled by women by the end of 2023.
    • 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.

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