The UK’s Charity Bank has become the first bank in Europe to achieve certification as a B Corporation, a status for companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
B Corporation is described as being to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee. Certified businesses must meet standards on social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Currently there are over 1,000 B Corps across 33 countries in more than 60 industries working to “redefine success in business”.
James Perry, the UK representative of B Lab, which certifies the businesses, explains that unlike traditional companies, certified B Corporations are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on their shareholders, but on other areas of society, from workers and suppliers to communities and the environment.
Charity Bank is a social purpose bank that uses savings to support charities and social enterprises through loans. The bank also operates transparently, informing savers of what their money is being used for.
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A previous survey commissioned by Charity Bank demonstrated the demand for transparency and ethics within the banking sector. Some 72% of participants wanted to know what happens to their savings, with over two thirds adding they would like their savings to be lent solely to good causes. However, in contrast to this demand, just 11% knew what their bank did with their savings.
Patrick Crawford, Charity Bank’s chief executive, said, “As a simple loans and savings bank, Charity Bank puts money to work for the common good. Many banks claim to be ‘different’ of ‘better’. The B Corporation certification and the rigorous standards it represents provide evidence that Charity Bank acts in a way that is true to its mission and is committed to supporting the creation of social benefit.”
He called on other UK firms to become certified B Corporations. “It will make it easier for all of us to tell the difference globally between ‘good’ companies and good marketing,” Crawford added.
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