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Nov 21: Vancity Provides Leadership...

Vancity Continues to Provide Leadership in Corporate Accountability

Vancouver, November 21, 2000 - Vancity continues to set the highest standard for corporate accountability and transparency for financial institutions and other corporations in B.C. and Canada, Vancity Board of Directors Chair Greg McDade said today as he and Vancity CEO Dave Mowat released the credit union's 1998/99 Social Report.

"At Vancity, we know that our financial results are only part of the picture," said McDade. "Auditing and reporting on our social and environmental performance is just as relevant, if not more important. Conducting a social audit and producing an externally verified social report is our way of being open and accountable to our members, staff, the community and other stakeholders."

McDade said that in the current competitive marketplace, Canadians are demanding more accountability and transparency from their financial institutions. No Canadian bank currently produces an externally verified social report, and social auditing is not a statutory obligation. Vancity, which introduced its first social audit and report in 1997, supports the federal government's call in its proposed financial services legislation for public accountability statements to make financial institutions with equity in excess of $1 billion more responsive and accountable to the people they serve.

The1998/99 Social Report (PDF)indicates that Vancity made progress with the majority of its commitments, as set out in the 1997 Social Report, to improve the credit union's social and environmental performance. The report also indicates the need for improvements in a number of other key areas.

"The results of our 1998/99 social audit process indicate that we have some distance to go before all of our progressive policies and procedures are fully embedded into our core business activities," said Mowat. "However, we know we are headed in the right direction, and we hope our efforts will inform and provide leadership to other financial institutions."

Key findings from the 1998/99 social audit include:

  • Vancity has taken significant steps to improve access to financial services for low-income and marginalized individuals and is implementing an accessibility strategy;
  • The portion of Vancity's portfolio in small business loans (loans of less than $25,000) is seven times that of Canadian banks (2.8 per cent versus 0.4 per cent);
  • Vancity donated 4.8 per cent of its pre-tax earnings to the community in 1999, compared to an average of one per cent by five of Canada's largest banks;
  • 79 per cent of Vancity members said they were satisfied with Vancity's service; and,
  • 86 per cent of Vancity staff said they were satisfied with Vancity as their employer. At the same time, however, staff experienced heavy workloads and stress in 1998/99 as they attempted to cope with challenges such as the rapid pace of change in the financial services industry.

The 1998/99 social audit process measured Vancity's social and environmental performance against the expectations of its stakeholders, Vancity policies and commitments, and societal expectations. Vancity's social audit process is based on the AccountAbility 1000 process standard developed by the United Kingdom's Institute for Social and Ethical AccountAbility.

Vancity's 1998/99 Social Report was prepared by Vancity staff and externally verified by Solstice Consulting of Burnaby B.C. Vancity began reporting on its social and environmental performance in 1992, and undertook its first social audit in 1997. One of the most significant outcomes of the 1997 audit was the decision to develop a corporate-wide ethical policy to guide all business decisions at Vancity. As a result, Vancity's Statement of Values and Commitments has been developed and will be publicly released in 2001.

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $6.4 billion in assets, 263,000 members, and 39 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. Citizens Bank released its first-ever ethical policy compliance audit earlier this month. Both Vancity and Citizens Bank are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.

Vancity Contact:
Paula Martin
Public Affairs and Corporate Communications
Vancity Credit Union
(604) 877-7641

The 1998/99 Social Report is an account of our ongoing journey guided by Vancity's long-standing commitment to social and environmental responsibility, democratic decision-making, and outstanding member service. It presents a reliable, transparent and balanced account of our social and environment performance and the views of our stakeholders. The results of the 1998/99 social audit process also indicate where Vancity needs to make improvements.


  • In 1999, Vancity distributed $6.3 million of profits to members in the form of dividends on membership and investment shares, bonus on deposit interest paid by Vancity, and a rebate on loan interest paid to Vancity.
  • Vancity took significant steps to improve access to financial services for low-income, marginalized and disabled individuals in 1998/99 and is implementing a comprehensive accessibility strategy.
  • 79 per cent of members are satisfied overall with Vancity's service.
  • 62 per cent of members who had an opinion said Vancity is helping them to reach their financial goals.
  • The portion of Vancity's portfolio in small business loans (less than $25,000) is seven times that of Canadian banks (2.8 per cent to 0.4 per cent)


  • 4.8 per cent of Vancity's pre-tax earnings - $1.7 million - were donated to the community in 1998/99, in the form of donations and grants to support social justice, ecological responsibility, economic self-reliance, and other community activities.
  • Vancity is implementing a staff involvement strategy which encourages staff to participate in the community, through fundraising, corporate participation, and volunteerism.

Credit Unions

  • Vancity's assets represent 24 per cent of the assets of the B.C. credit union system, and 10 per cent of the assets of the credit unions affiliated with Canada's credit union centrals. Vancity's goal is to work with other credit unions to grow the credit union system within Canada's financial services sector.


  • 86 per cent of staff are satisfied overall with Vancity as their employer.
  • 89 per cent of Vancity staff feel good about working at Vancity because of what it does for the environment and the community.
  • Consistent with experience throughout the financial services industry, Vancity staff have experienced heavy workloads and stress in 1998/99 despite efforts to help staff manage the pressures of competition and organizational change.