The Co-operative Bank launches its Values & Ethics Poll - As 20 million call for a say in how banks operate

11 August 2021

5 min read

  • The Co-operative Bank launches its sixth Values and Ethics Poll, one of the biggest barometers of where the nation stands on ethical and sustainability issues in 2021

  • With consumers clearly stating they now want a bigger say in how their money is used, results of the Values and Ethics Poll will shape the Bank’s customer-led Ethical Policy, guiding how the Bank does business and who it will, or won’t provide banking services to in the future

  • More than 20 million people in the UK (40% of UK adults) call for a say in how their banking provider tackles social and environmental issues – as pandemic fuels the rise of the ‘ethical consumer’

More than 20 million people in the UK want a say in how their bank approaches key social and environmental issues, according to new research from The Co-operative Bank. This follows recent calls by the bank to introduce a ‘kitemark system’ to help consumers make more informed ethical choices when choosing a banking provider so they can clearly understand where a bank stands in terms of ethical and environmental policies.

When asked what social issues were most important to them, a third of UK adults (33%) cited climate change with a similar number specifying adequate access to healthcare (likely fuelled by the pandemic and fears of resulting hospital wait times). Poverty and homelessness (30%), mental health awareness/action (28%) and animal welfare (24%) make up the rest of the top five. Food insecurity, the refugee crisis and debt support are the issues that have become more important to consumers in the last 12 months.

The top 10 issues that matter to UK adults:

Social issue

% of UK adults who cited it as important to them

Climate change


Access to adequate healthcare


Poverty and homelessness


Mental health awareness/action


Animal welfare


Income inequality




Racial inequality


Domestic abuse


Debt support and financial education


People also have strong views on how the brands they use approach ethical issues. One in four UK adults (25%) want brands to demonstrate their commitment to issues they care about – for 30% of this group this belief has increased in the last 12 months. A similar number of UK adults (23%) will potentially stop using a company if it acts in a way that doesn’t represent their values – for 26% of this group, this belief has increased in the last year. Only 13% of people say they don’t care about how brands feel about social issues.

Following the research, The Co-operative Bank is today announcing the launch of its sixth Values and Ethics Poll in 30 years. The poll – which all of the Bank’s 3.3 million customers can take part in - is the biggest survey of its kind on ethical issues. The most recent poll, which took place in 2014, identified the causes its customers wanted the Bank to invest in such as; support for local communities in the UK (59%), support for co-operatives (57%) and environmental protection (56%). This was in addition to questions which informed the Bank’s conduct as a business, such as not banking, investing in or lending to companies that are involved in the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources (73%), not banking, investing in or lending to companies that manufacture chemicals that persist in the environment or are harmful to health (70%) and supporting companies that invest in renewable energy (65%). However, with the significant social changes of the last seven years and the global impact of the pandemic, the Bank anticipates priorities may have shifted.

The new poll will ask customers for their views on a range of important ethical issues, from the Bank’s stance on diversity and inclusion, to its approach to climate change, all the way through to how customer data is utilised. The results of the poll, published in early 2022, will shape the future of the Bank’s customer-led Ethical Policy. The Policy, unique among high-street banks, has previously informed the Bank’s stance on a range of issues including climate change, deforestation, unnatural chemicals, indiscriminate weapons, the extraction and production of fossil fuels, oppressive regimes and animal testing on cosmetics. Action taken on these views, has led to the Bank being rated as the UK’s best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) rated high street bank by Sustainalytics, a leading ESG and corporate governance research, ratings and analytics firm.

The Values and Ethics Poll is currently live and will be available until 31st August 2021, Customers of The Co-operative Bank can take part by going to or by calling into a Co-operative Bank branch.

Maria Cearns, Managing Director of Customer and People, The Co-operative Bank said, “As a leader in ethical banking, The Co-operative Bank has always believed that doing good and doing good business should go together, which is why we've had a customer-led Ethical Policy for nearly 30 years, putting our customers’ values at the heart of what we do and campaigning for what they think is right.

“Our research confirms that consumers are increasingly interested in the environmental and social credentials of the brands and businesses they interact with, including their bank, and I urge all of our customers to take part in the Values and Ethics Poll and have their say. As a bank founded on co-operative values it’s important that as we emerge from the pandemic we work co-operatively to combine our efforts, so together, we can make the changes we believe are right for the benefit of our communities.”

Shaun Fensom, long-standing customer and co-founder of the Customer Union for Ethical Banking said, “Like many customers, our members are with The Co-operative Bank because of its historical leadership on ethics and because of its values rooted in the co-operative movement. We welcome this opportunity for customers to help shape and adapt the Bank’s Ethical Policy to meet the many new challenges and circumstances facing the planet in 2021. We want to help ensure that The Co-operative Bank can lead the financial sector as it has in the past. That’s why we’ll be encouraging all our members to complete the Values and Ethics Poll.”


Media Contacts

Nicki Parry
The Co-operative Bank
Tel: 07734 002 983 Email: 

Dan Chadwick
The Co-operative Bank
Tel: 0772 470 1319 Email: 

About The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank plc provides a full range of banking products and services to retail and SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) customers and is committed to values and ethics in line with the principles of the co-operative movement.

The Co-operative Bank is the only high street bank with a customer-led ethical policy which gives customers a say in how their money is used. Launched in 1992, the Policy has been updated on five occasions, with new commitments added in January 2015 to cover how the Bank operates its business, products and services, workplace and culture, relationships with suppliers and other stakeholders and campaigning.


The Co-operative Bank Press Office

Landline: 0151 271 1985

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