The Co-operative Bank is renowned for its ethics. “I had heard of the Co-op’s reputation prior to working there,” said Alan Clarke, a trainer for the bank’s internet division, Smile. “They’re good on policies — it’s not just lip service.”
The origins of the Co-operative Bank can be traced back to 1872. Today it has hundreds of outlets and is the only British bank to publish an ethical policy, which clearly defines who it does business with. The bank wants to “act as a caring and responsible employer”, and has adopted flexible benefits policies.
Family-friendly policies mean two parents working at Co-op can share maternity and paid paternity leave of two weeks. There are childcare vouchers and job-protected career breaks from three months to five years for either parent. The vast majority of staff surveyed felt everyone is treated fairly regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality. A profit-share policy provides all eligible employees with a significant bonus (8% in 2001) and staff members also receive an annual group bonus of 2.5% of salary, and other payments include up to £25,000 for a successful suggestion. It has a policy of internal recruitment and clear career paths for employees. The introduction of more flexible job roles has enabled staff to develop their careers in a variety of ways.
Trust in the management is high and 73% of staff are proud of the bank and its ethical stance. Last year, when it was named one of the 50 best companies to work for, it invited staff to choose between champagne, chocolates or a donation to charity. More than a third chose a charity.
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