Time for an ethical policy


I disagree. The disgrace of the director was the disgrace of the whole bank, and it made a mockery of the bank’s claims to be “ethical”.

Throughout history we’ve plenty of “The People’s X” and the “Democratic Republic of Y” which have had great manifestos / constitutions and terrible outcomes for the people.

The biggest mistake we can make is to assume “hedge funds / capitalism” bad, “co-op / collectivist” good. That’s too simplistic, and ignores the fact that fallible people are behind both

(Dave) #22

And it was so shocking because of its claims to be ethical. A warning to others who make similar claims perhaps.


(Hugh Scantlebury) #23

Again see post on Saving Pots where I was in wholly agreement with @Jttp and others, this would be very welcome.

As an aside congratulations to all for Tom Bloomfields excellent interview on Radio 4’s Today programme this AM.


Ooh interesting. What was the key message?

(Adam) #25

Has there been an argument on this thread that is solid, rather than unspecific feelings that an ethical policy is just not necessary?

To re-iterate the main arguments I’m trying to make:

  • a policy guides future behaviour
  • it has nothing to do with the fallibility or failures of people meant to be abiding by it, if anything it probably leads to lesser transgressions
  • if set down on paper and published, it is more powerful - the 10 commandments were written on stone tablets for a good reason, and as the gag goes, a verbal arrangement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
  • it can survive management change - the Co-op is still abiding by its ethical policy despite being owned by a hedge fund

(Micky) #26

I’m yet to see a solid argument why an ethical policy is necessary. It might help some people feel better about dealing with a company but to me it isn’t worth the paper its printed on

(Matt) #27

Until it’s changed


There’s a lot of implicit ideological messaging going on here.

I really hope Monzo avoids this kind of posturing.

When Tom made his comments about “the 1%” it had a “student union politics” feel to it, which is needlessly divisive.

(🤦‍♂️ abofm.club 🤦‍♂️) #29

No it’s not.


It’s always best to argue solidly for something to exist, rather than to ask others to argue against the creation of something that isn’t currently in existence, in my view.

For what it’s worth, I agree that ethical behaviour is what we’re after. I just don’t agree that any substantial change will happen if Monzo were to have a written ethical policy. My point above is that you’ll get better outcomes from looking at behaviors and approaches than words on a page that may or may not be genuine.

That said, you clearly disagree. And I’m not sure that anecdotal evidence of one example for/against the case that anyone is trying to make moves us forward.

We’re unlikely to reach agreement - and that’s okay - so I’ll leave it here :slight_smile:

((╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻) #31

Whenever I see an ethical policy I feel a little bit warm and fuzzy inside because I like the idea that I may be helping to bring about some good in the world. This is short lived because in reality we are not privileged to the decisions and actions that happen behind closed doors in these big firms.

So with that, it is impossible to make an informed decision on whether any company is ethical or not and with no laws to abide them to the terms of the policy they are sadly worthless. Even more so because I fear that some companies are using these as a marketing gimmick knowing just that.

(Adam) #32

If you’re talking for Monzo then I’ll write once more in the hope I might say something convincing.

You don’t just write an ethical policy and stick it in a file. Nor a mission statement. I’m not stupid enough to be persuaded by that - if I could find out. The organisation needs to formulate it through discussion of its staff and engage buy-in, and then of course publish it, show some conviction in it, live it.

It’s not just some wishy washy crap.

So how else can you convince me that your organisation is ethically different from e.g. Amazon? Or Barclays? You just haven’t had the chance to prove it yet? I have read comments about how nice Monzo is, but that is just hearsay I’m afraid.

(Dave) #33

I’m starting to think that maybe there are a number of different kinds of “ethical policy” being discussed here. I agree with many of the comments about us not knowing what happens “behind closed doors in these big firms”, and I agree that many policies are there to make you feel “a little bit warm and fuzzy inside” and are used as “a marketing gimmick”.

These policies are completely pointless and undermine the good work that business that do operate ethically are involved in. I’m not taken in by that sort of thing any more than anyone else, and I am looking for evidence.

What I am suggesting is an ethical policy where we would be “looking at behaviours and approaches” to actively evaluate that an organisation does what it says it is doing. This would be much the same as an organisations accounts being audited to make sure they are telling the truth about their finances.

A number of companies already do this, and set themselves targets that are independently verified as being met. In the case of a bank it might be that we don’t want them investing our money in a particular way. That could be verified beyond being just words on a page.

It’s an entirely different thing if we don’t want Monzo to be accountable in a particular way, and just want it to ensure it works within the law.

(Adam) #34

Maybe I’m a simple guy, but I think their transparency is greater than any ethical policy they could have. The second that stops becoming true is when they lose me as a customer.

(Dave) #35

Yes, you’re absolutely right. Transparency is key to ethical behaviour. In banking a good example of this in the UK is Triodos Bank where they publish every organisation they loan customer deposits to on their website. They simply state that they only loan money to organisations that meet their criteria for doing positive things for society.

However, you may or may not agree with that they think is positive, but at least you can determine this for yourself because of their transparency (which in itself might be considered by some to be ethical behaviour).


I talk for no one but myself.

(Kevyn) #37

The Move Your Money group, which campaigns for “equitable and sustainable banking” stated this about Cooperative Banks when it relaunched of its Ethical Policy:

The Co-op should be applauded for strengthening and expanding its ethical approach, particularly in the areas of tax, social justice, and in seeking accreditation to the Living Wage.

That said, the cornerstone of ethical banking is sound management, and ownership structures that prioritise the interests of people and planet, rather than simply extracting profit.

The Move Your Money scorecard shows that until it strengthens in these areas, The Co-operative Bank will fall short of its ethical aspirations, despite a progressive approach to lending that still places it leagues ahead of the UK’s biggest banks.

Management structures is key, not a policy that can be rewritten. The Cooperative Bank has tried to avoid that from ever happening by writing its ethical approach into its constitution. Unfortunately that, too, could be rewritten if an owner ever decided to.

(Adam) #38

That is spot on, the whole ethical thing has to be entwined in the very way that the organisation works, and just writing something down and going no further solves nothing.

From an external point of view though, the written statements, promises, pledges or manifestos are the first port of call.

Reading over the blurb that accompanied the £20million crowd-funding appeal about why Monzo wants to get into lending, the first thing that strikes me is whether Monzo has any rules written down to govern that - or does Monzo just lend to anyone?

What if I wanted to borrow money to support my little anti-personnel mine factory?

Or my fur farm?

Or an import business importing dubious materials or products?

If there are rules, they need to be written down.


The biggest advantage to a policy, indeed to any written intent, is that it focuses the minds of those writing it.

It’s a great way to hammer out what you actually think, believe and agree on.