Monday, 2 July 2007

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The Performance of Cooperative Banks

On 1 of August, the EACB published its report on the performance of cooperative banks in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The document gives a comprehensive overview of all CSR-related activities of cooperative banks while emphasising the intrinsic link between CSR and the cooperative business model. As they contribute through their socially responsible commitment to attaining the goals of the Lisbon agenda, the importance of cooperative banks should therefore be recognised and their specificities be taken into consideration in the European legislative context. German and French versions of the report will be available within a short time.

Cooperative banks practice transparency, democratic principles and a high degree of stakeholder involvement, be it of the member/shareholder, the staff, the customer or the local community. Their financing of local sustainable development helps sustain employment opportunities in remote areas and often contributes to ensuring the continued livelihood of whole communities. Through their specialised sectoral knowledge, they are able to offer adequate products for SMEs, farmers and fisheries, for which they are among the main providers of credit.

Cooperative banks are also among the market leaders for Socially Responsible Investment, such as SRI-funds, SRI savings accounts and more. Green finance is increasingly gaining importance, as a variety of investment solutions allow the customers of cooperative banks to make a difference and to contribute to the preservation of the environment.

Based on their philosophy of fostering economic initiative of individuals and of an inclusive society, cooperative banks are also participating in various schemes, such as microfinance, to support the social reintegration of e.g. long-time unemployed. Similarly, cooperative banking networks have a long tradition of development work in developing countries, where they supply knowledge and funds to help setting up cooperative banking infrastructures, which are key to local sustainable development and to fostering civil society structures.

Finally, cooperative banks participate in the life and the development of their local communities through cultural sponsorship initiatives, responsible citizenship and foundation work.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): The Performance of Cooperative Banks

La Responsabilité sociale des Entreprises:les activités des banques coopératives

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