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 (PDF)

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

In 2023, The Co-operative Bank has been rated as the UK’s best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) high street bank by Sustainalytics*.

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 ambitious ESG commitments, 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.

*As of October 2023, The Co-operative Bank received an ESG Risk Rating of 8.5 from Morningstar Sustainalytics and was assessed to be at negligible risk of experiencing financial impacts from ESG factors. In no event should this Risk Rating be construed as investment advice or expert opinion as defined by the applicable legislation.

Copyright 2023 Morningstar Sustainalytics. All rights reserved. This article contains information developed by Sustainalytics (www.sustainalytics.com). Such information and data are proprietary of Sustainalytics and/or its third party suppliers (Third Party Data) and are provided for informational purposes only. They do not constitute an endorsement of any product or project, nor an investment advice and are not warranted to be complete, timely, accurate or suitable for a particular purpose. Their use is subject to conditions available at www.sustainalytics.com/legal-disclaimers.

Sustainalytics ESG Industry Top Rated logo Sustainalytics ESG Regional Top Rated logo

Our Sustainability Report 2023

Every year we create our 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 annual 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 Sustainability Report (PDF)

Download our 2023 ESG Datasheet

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. Learn about our work in environmental focus, social impact and governance below.

    Environmental focus

    Our commitment to protecting the environment was formalised over 30 years ago when we launched our Ethical Policy.

    In 2023, as well as being recognised as the UK’s best ESG rated high street bank for the third consecutive year by Morningstar Sustainalytics*, we also maintained our ratings from other ESG risk rating agencies, receiving an AAA rating from MSCI**, and a Prime Rating of C with ISS, reinforcing us as a leader in ESG.

    In 2023 we are pleased to report our Scope 3 indirect emissions for the first time, marking a significant step forward in our journey to achieve Net Zero.

    We recycled 73% of operational waste, with the remaining 27% sent to energy recovery facilities. This is a great improvement on our starting year in 2020, when only 41% of waste was recycled.

    We launched a Renewable Energy Funding Scheme for business customers and…

    Green Further Advances product for our retail customers with c.£220m green asset financing deployed.

    **Rated by MSCI with an ESG Risk Rating of AAA in 2023.

    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 and we were proud to see our colleagues almost quadruple their volunteering days in 2023 to 2,335.

    In 2023 we have continued our commitment to supporting business customers facing financial difficulty, with dedicated help provided through our business support team. We provide information on how to spot the early warning signs of financial stress, manage cash flow and where to go for additional support.


    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.

    MSCI ESG Ratings logo - AAA rating ISS ESG logo - Prime rating

    Our future ESG commitments

    • We will increase biodiversity in 300 spaces across 12 sites as we work towards our long term target to replenish 1,000 nature-depleted spaces by the end of 2025.
    • We will reduce our direct scope 1 & 2 emissions by c.10% whilst commencing development of a robust transition plan in line with our Net Zero commitments.
    • We will continue to help customers to understand the environmental impacts of their actions and become more sustainable.
    • In line with current work on Net Zero Transition Planning, we will review our products and propositions offering to ensure that this will support our customers in their decarbonisation journey.

    • We will amplify the voices of our customers with our campaign for fairer renting, which demands the transformation of the private rented sector to ensure safe and secure housing for all.
    • We’ll demonstrate our support for registered charities, community interest companies and co-operatives, through increasing Community Direct Plus Accounts by 6% compared to 2023.
    • We will continue to give back to our communities by providing charities and community groups through our volunteering programme.
    • The Co-operative Bank’s Charitable Fund commits a proportion of Bank profits to driving positive social and environmental change, whilst responding to the needs of our communities.
    • We remain committed to our aspirational target to have 45% of senior positions filled by women.
    • All colleagues will have at least one Environmental, Social and Governance related objective for 2024, helping to motivate and empower them to perform at their best, with a clear sense of direction in delivering against the ethical commitments in our customer-led Ethical Policy and ESG strategy.

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

    Our GSS Financing Framework connects our purpose with our wholesale market financing strategy. The framework facilitates 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 (PDF)

    View our GSS Financing Framework Second Party Opinion (PDF)

    View our Green Bond Allocation & Impact Report 2023 (PDF)

    View our ICS Green Bond Allocation & Impact Report 2023 Second Party Opinion (PDF)

    View our Green Bond Allocation & Impact Report 2022 (PDF)

    View our ICS Green Bond Allocation & Impact Report 2022 Second Party Opinion (PDF)

    Principles for Responsible Banking

    We are proud signatories of the UNEP FI’s Principles for Responsible Banking. The Principles are the world’s foremost sustainability framework for Banking. As part of our commitments we provide regular updates on our progress integrating The Principles into the Bank’s operation and strategy.

    Please see our updates below:

    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 our Business Support for Co-ops programme in partnership with Co-operatives UK, 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 1,250 organisations with over £1,110,000 of funding; providing a wide range of projects which benefit the community
    • Campaigning for fairer renting with Shelter
    • Supporting survivors of economic abuse and driving positive change for its victims through our Economic Abuse campaigns. 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 £1.6 million 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

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    Stronger together

    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 Policies and 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. If you're struggling with the rising cost of living, or managing your finances, we're here to help you find the right support:

    Supporting our colleagues

    Here at The Co-operative Bank, we’re proud to be different. We’re even prouder that it’s our ethical approach in everything we do that makes us different. And our colleagues are a fundamental part of that.

    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 network, supporting colleagues with gender-based issues and working to improve people policies.
    • Futures is our early careers network, providing career development support and opportunities for relevant networking.

    You can read our full colleague proposition (PDF)

    Workplace and culture

    Our Ethical Policy has three pillars – Planet, People and Community. Our People pillar 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 this we aspire to have 45% of senior positions filled by women.
    • 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 events across the region including Manchester Pride.
    • 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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