Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

We believe in the essential goodness of people. We believe that dreamers are as unique as their dreams. We believe that to rise higher, you must dig deeper. We believe that balance in all things is the true measure of prosperity. Wherever you are, Whatever it is, We believe you can.

Thursday 5 February 2009, by Michael De Witte, Zlatko Kostovski

1 inspired

1. Why did you choose this company?

We choose this company because it is a good example of a company that evaluates its actions not only in terms of profitability but also in accordance with its values and its social & corporate responsibility. More important, it is a lot more than public relations because the company’s management produces every two years an accountability report. And it works because the company is profitable and the first Credit Union in Canada.
We thought this would be an inspiring example for students who are going to work in the financial sector.

2. Describe briefly the main facts about the activities of the company.

The company in all of its actions is following this triple evaluation (ethical, social and profit) along a statement of values and commitments and well defined corporate social responsibilities. The evolution of the company is marked by innovative practices in terms of banking. (Shared risk mortgages to group of immigrants for example or loans to women without the need for a male cosigner.)
As a credit union they share the profits among members through the “shared success” plan.
Among the different subsidiaries there is a foundation that promotes community, capacity, change and well-being. This foundation can also be understood as an incubator for innovative socially responsible banking practices. Innovations are tested and the potential profitability is measured.
All other subsidiaries (Ethical investment, Insurance, Seed Financing and Real Estate development) follow the same principles and ethical philosophy. Vancity Enterprises the non-traditional real estate development arm is partner in an innovative green housing complex, docksidegreen, that involves new green energy and construction solutions in Victoria B.C.
Vancity is today the first North-American financial institution to be carbon neutral and it also launched a website called
This website is a platform for people to share ideas, practices and projects around community development, social and green projects.

3. What are the ethical challenges this company is addressing?

Exclusion is very often present in the banking system and if not excluded the poorer people or the less well informed and are the ones that pay the highest banking fees. Vancity was created by workers excluded from the traditional banking system, so it’s goal is to offer banking services to everyone but especially to those who cannot enter the traditional banking system. It is also acting in favor of the community and the environment because they believe that they are more than a corporation and do have responsibilities in these fields. They collaborate for example with the Canadian federal government in the field of “green loans”.

4. What makes you believe that this company is really ethical? Why do you trust it?

Three reasons for this:
First, it publishes an accountability (controlled by an independent auditing company) report every two years with indicators and goals for which employees or group of employees are responsible. Second, its model has already failed in the past and the ethical identity of the union has been endangered but the employees and some managers showed resistance to this changes. So the ethical identity is embedded in the history of the company. The organizational culture and behavior therefore shows some resilience. Last but not least, the company has so close links with the community and the success of his business model is so linked to the perception and the consequent actions of the public that any deviating behavior would mean the end of the company.

5. Which challenges might the company face in the future?

The main challenges, in my opinion, are copycats and ethical blur arising from public relations efforts of other banks trying to capture for their brand image some socially responsible make-up. This could mislead some customers or weaken the position from Vancity as a trend setter.

6. How do you think this company may improve?

Improvement is always possible is one of the principles of Vancity. So it can improve by expanding its model and sharing its best practices with other companies across the world.

Wall Street Journal Europe May 13th 2008, Does Ethical Pay.

Location: Vancouver (Canada)

Sector: banking, credit union, financial services provider

Official website:

Key figures:

ROE(5 yrs Average 02-06 ):10.86%
Growth of Assets (5 yrs Average 02-06):10.32%
Net Earnings (2006): 45.3 M$CAN
Number of Branches: 59
Members:390 000
Shared Succes (2006):14.52M$CAN

Nbr. visits: 1796

Nbr. inspires: 1