Why we’ve committed to reviewing and improving the impact we have on society
Paul Stockwell (pictured), chief commercial officer, of Gatehouse Bank
It’s not enough to pay lip service to the groundswell around climate action and sustainability.
Increasingly, people are concerned not only about the quality of the products and services they are consuming but also the values of the business they are buying from.
In addition, people are also looking to their employer to improve the positive impact, or reduce the negative impact, they have on society.
In September, Gatehouse Bank became one of the founding signatories of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Banking.
Under the principles, we have committed to strategically aligning our business with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
We’ve joined a coalition of 130 banks from all over the world in this venture — but we are proud to be the only UK Shariah-compliant bank to become a founding signatory.
That’s important to us because we’ve always prided ourselves on the ‘fairness’ hardwired into our products through our Shariah-compliant finance principles.
These principles ensure the bank is ethical by design and prohibit us from doing business with a number of sectors such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, adult entertainment and military weapons.
We’re encouraging our peers to do the same because, as expressed in the Principles for Responsible Banking, we’re convinced that “only in an inclusive society founded on human dignity, equality and sustainable use of natural resources can our employees, customers and businesses thrive”.
We are proud to form part of a collective that is keen to demonstrate how serious we are on improving our society and the planet we live on, and signing up to these principles holds the banking industry to account and opens us up to scrutiny like never before.
We welcome that.
We know signing these principles won’t change things overnight, but we believe that having ethics aren’t a barrier to successful businesses.
Signing up to the UN Principles is very much the start of the process. We will shortly carry out an analysis on how the bank impacts society and, following the outcome, we have committed to set a minimum of two targets, linked to the UN’s Social Development Goals, based on areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact.
We believe the Banking Principles and Social Development Goals provide a framework to help shape the bank’s culture, products and services.
Gone are the days where companies could put profit ahead of values and sustainability.
The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative points out that ‘our success and ability to remain profitable and relevant is intrinsically dependent on the long-term prosperity of the societies we serve’.
We couldn’t agree more.