Our values and ethics

More than just words — for 150 years, we’ve been committed to our co-operative values and ethics, which are still fundamental to who we are to this day.

Our Ethical Policy

Our commitment to co-operative values and ethics has been fundamental to us since we established the Bank in 1872 and still underpin how we run our business.

To outline our ethical commitments, in 1992 we took a pioneering step and introduced a customer-led Ethical Policy. We were the first bank in the UK to do so, and are still the only UK high street bank to have one of its kind.

We often ask our customers to tell us about the things that matter to them and want us to take action on, and regularly update our Ethical Policy to reflect this.

After listening to our customers, our latest Ethical Policy focuses on what we do for our planet, people, and the community, and our commitments within these spaces.

The three pillars of our Ethical Policy:


We’re committed to:

  • Working to limit and reduce global climate change and the destruction of ecosystems
  • Taking steps to reverse the decline in biodiversity
  • Preserving animal welfare
  • Working towards being a lifetime carbon neutral bank
  • Increasing sustainability in our business and suppliers.

Read more about our commitment to the planet


We’re committed to:

  • Promoting human rights, social justice in international development and equality
  • Campaigning for meaningful change in society
  • Making sure we’re a responsible bank that treats customers fairly
  • Being an ethical employer with a strong culture.

Read more about our commitment to people


We’re committed to:

  • Promoting economic and social development
  • Only working with businesses and organisations that are accountable and share our values
  • Supporting the co-operative movement and being a member of Co-operatives UK
  • Being good digital citizens and maintaining online protections
  • Continuing to actively support the small business community.

Read more about our commitment to the community

Our ethical screening process

We’re committed to not providing banking services to businesses and organisations that conflict with our Ethical Policy.

For example, we’ve previously stopped an organisation from joining The Co-operative Bank on the grounds of their involvement with fossil fuel extraction, and declined services to businesses that conflict with our stance on human rights and animal welfare.

Find out how our screening process works

Our 2021 Sustainability Report

Our annual Sustainability Report shows how we have delivered against our Ethical Policy and provides key environmental, social and governance information. It showcases our values and ethics in action and outlines our commitments for the future.

Our Environmental, Social and Governance principles

Businesses today are increasingly being held to account by their customers, investors, regulators, employees and other stakeholders. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting makes the overall impact of an organisation's activities more measurable by taking into account the impact of its core operations, alongside the positive work they undertake.
In 2022, for the second year running, The Co-operative Bank has been rated as the UK’s best Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) high street bank by Sustainalytics*

Learn more about our Environmental, Social and Governance approach

*Rated by Morningstar Sustainalytics in the Regional Banks sub-industry with a score of 8.3 as of 8 July 2022

Sustainalytics Industry top rated logo Sustainalytics Regional top rated logo

Our co-operative values

As a business with deep and historic roots in the co-operative movement, we have enshrined co-operative values into how we operate. Those values are:

  • Self-help
  • Self-responsibility
  • Democracy
  • Equality and equity
  • Solidarity.

In common with organisations across the co-operative movement, we also believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others. We’re proud to be partnered with Co-operatives UK — the voice of the UK’s co-operative movement — where you can learn more about co-operative values.

Celebrating 150 years of ethical banking

Since 1872, we’ve had an unwavering commitment to co-operative values and ethics, putting our principles into action and campaigning for the causes that matter to our customers. Find out how our story began, and see our highlights through the years.

Learn more about our history

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