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Judging banks for social responsibility

Judging Money magazine's Socially Responsible Bank of the Year awards this year wasn't easy. As the magazine's June issue says 'Australian banks have been rocked by advice scandals, pressured by environmentalists to stop funding coal and accused of funding unscrupulous payday lending.'

So the panel, which I was pleased to join at the invitation of Green Cross director Mara Bun, looked for social responsibility as embedded culture, not just an add on. We asked 'why' and 'how' the applicant banks support social and environmental programs and whether they're taking a leadership position or just keeping up.

What stood out for me is that the big banks - Westpac, NAB and ANZ are now openly incorporating climate change risks into their business, including risk assessments of borrowers, and they’re offering products to support investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Judging the category for Mutuals was just as challenging because of the variety of the initiatives of the three applicants - bankmecu, ING Direct and Community Mutual.

The 2015 Socially Responsible Bank of the Year award went to Westpac, and the Socially Responsible Mutual of the Year is bankmecu. To read more here.

Money magazine's annual awards are very influential because its Australia's longest-running, highest-selling and most-read personal finance magazine. Read more here.

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