LANGLEY, B.C. – First West Credit Union, the B.C. financial cooperative, has been recognized as a leader among financial institutions for its socially conscious approach to doing business.
The credit union recently embarked on a detailed evaluation of its performance in three key categories – environmental, social and governance – collectively referred to in the business world by the acronym ESG. The results of the analyses, which involved seeking an ESG Risk Rating from an independent evaluator, indicate that First West – including its Valley First division – is demonstrating industry-best excellence in areas like sustainability, corporate citizenship and effective leadership.
“Doing the right thing for our members and local communities has always been part of our credit union’s DNA,” says Launi Skinner, First West CEO. “However, viewing everything we do through the specifics of an ESG lens is a new step that I believe will enable us to make even more positive change – for our environment, for our society and for our credit union’s members.”
As of August 25, 2021, First West received an ESG Risk Rating from leading ESG research, ratings and data firm Sustainalytics and was assessed to be at 18.6 low risk of experiencing material financial impacts from ESG factors. First West’s ESG Risk Rating places it in the twelfth percentile in the banking industry, and third percentile in the regional banking subindustry assessed by Sustainalytics.
Skinner points to the credit union’s wealth management book as one example of ESG leadership. More than one third of First West’s assets under management meet ESG criteria.
Sustainalytics’ ESG Risk Ratings measure a company’s exposure to industry-specific material ESG risks and how well a company is managing those risks. This multi-dimensional way of measuring ESG risk combines the concepts of management and exposure to arrive at an assessment of ESG risk, i.e. a total unmanaged ESG risk score or the ESG Risk Rating, that is comparable across all industries. Sustainalytics’ ESG Risk Ratings provide a quantitative measure of unmanaged ESG risk and distinguish between five levels of risk: negligible, low, medium, high and severe. Learn more about the ESG Risk Ratings here.
“This is only the beginning of First West’s journey as an ESG-focused organization and partnering with Sustainalytics enables us to continuously improve our approach to our environmental, social and governance practices,” says Skinner. “This rating demonstrates how First West’s thoughtful, steady growth over the years – especially this past decade – has enabled us to amplify those values and apply them more broadly in environmental, social and governance-related contexts.”