Member Stories

Customer-owned B Corp banks leading a global movement


B Corp has become a global movement, with almost 8,000 companies certified across the world, and just under 700 companies in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand now proudly B Corp. Certified B Corporations are companies that have been verified by B Lab for meeting high standards of environmental and social performance, accountability, and transparency.

When it comes to banks, only 56 deposit banks globally have been certified, which represents less than 0.1% of the number of B Corps worldwide.

However, Australian customer-owned banks are going against the grain and make up an outsized 15% of the global list of deposit banks. In total, 8 customer-owned banks in Australia are Certified B Corporations, and these banks are the only ADIs to be certified B Corporations in Australia.

“B Corps are leading the way in using business as a force for good, and it’s vital that consumers have access to ethical banking options, delivered by organisations that actively seek to operate to the benefit of all their stakeholders. This has been a clear need, particularly following the unfortunate practices identified through the banking Royal Commission that impacted so many people,” B Lab AANZ CEO Andrew Davies said.

“Customer-owned banks are purpose-led, which makes them naturally aligned with the B Corp ethos. Rising customer expectations and the desire to differentiate from the ‘big four banks’ have also been also key drivers among retail banks wanting to become certified,” he added.

Beyond Bank was the first Australian bank to be certified in 2015.

“For many reasons, becoming a certified B Corp Bank in 2015 made sense. Being a 100 per cent customer-owned bank, our business structure lends itself to a way of operating that, since the beginning, has considered all stakeholders in our decision-making processes. We had always held a strong belief that business should be used as a force for good, so joining the B Corp movement was a natural progression in many ways,” Beyond Bank Head of Community, Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Shane Farley said.

Since 2015, Teachers Mutual Bank, Summerland Bank, Bank Australia, Australian Mutual Bank, People First Bank, BankVic and Great Southern Bank have followed suit.

“We became a B Corp in 2020, but for a long time our core business has been about using money as a force for good. Becoming a B Corp validated the approach we take to banking, using money to create positive impact for people and the planet,” Bank Australia’s Head of Impact Management Jane Kearn said.

“Being a B Corp demonstrates our ongoing commitment to making ethical choices about how we loan and invest our customers’ money. Being part of the B Corp movement has also helped us build strong relationships with other purpose-driven businesses,” she added.

Great Southern Bank announced its B Corp certification earlier this month.

“Our aim is to be recognised as one of Australia’s top purpose-led businesses, and B Corp certification is a huge step towards achieving that goal,” CEO of Great Southern Bank Paul Lewis said in an announcement.

To become certified, companies go through a rigorous process in which they assess their positive social and environmental impact across five areas; workers, customers, governance, environment and community. Businesses must also embed stakeholder governance into their company’s constitution, which holds directors accountable for making decisions that consider the long-term impacts on communities, employees, and the environment.

“One of the great things about becoming a B Corp is that it is a rigorous process; it takes work. What that process delivers is a distinct picture of where your business is doing well and where it can make some improvements to do better and be better for your customers, your people, the environment and your wider community,” Beyond Bank’s Shane Farley said.

Given customer-owned banks are purpose-led, we expect to see more of our members’ names added to the prestigious list of B Corp certified organisations.

Together, customer-owned banks continue to put people before profit and we look forward to seeing the new ways members prove their commitment to creating a positive impact. To find out more and to join the B Corp movement, head to Bcorporation.com.au.

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