Creating a sustainable future in which we all flourish

Doing the right thing is part of our DNA. As a values-driven cooperative created by and for ordinary British Columbians, First West is fueled by a core purpose to empower positive change for our members, our communities, our team members and our planet. And while our purpose goes all the way back to the very beginning of our 70+ year story, it’s even more relevant and urgent today. We’re stepping forward with ever-increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership, as we strive to be a force for good in a time of extraordinary global challenge and opportunity.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria guide our operations and our strategy

ESG at First West
Environmental criteria consider how we perform as a steward of nature. Social criteria examine how we manage relationships with employees, suppliers, members and the communities we serve. Governance deals with our leadership, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

As Signatories to the United Nation's Principles for Responsible Banking (UN PRB), we're helping to ensure that growth goes hand-in-hand with a sense of purpose.

It’s always been our purpose to help people in our communities—whether through volunteering, donations, or local decision-making. We continuously live our credit union values while helping future generations flourish by supporting global missions, like the UN PRB, which have an impact right here at home. The UN PRB consists of six strategies and practices that align with the vision society has set out for its future in the areas of Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. These 6 Principles drive change to help build a sustainable banking industry for the future and come at an urgent time for our planet.

Principle 1: Alignment

We will align our business strategy to be consistent with and contribute to individuals’ needs and society’s goals, as expressed in the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement and relevant national and regional frameworks.

Principle 2: Impact & Target Setting

We will continuously increase our positive impacts while reducing the negative impacts on, and managing the risks to, people and environment resulting from our activities, products and services. To this end, we will set and publish targets where we can have the most significant impacts.

Principle 3: Clients & Customers

We will work responsibly with our clients and our customers to encourage sustainable practices and enable economic activities that foster shared prosperity for current and future generations.

Principle 4: Stakeholders

We will proactively and responsibly consult, engage and partner with relevant stakeholders to achieve society’s goals.

Principle 5: Governance & Culture

We will implement our commitment to these Principles through effective governance and a culture of responsible banking.

Principle 6: Transparency & Accountability

We will periodically review our individual and collective implementation of these Principles and be transparent about and accountable for our positive and negative impacts and our contribution to society’s goals.


Our Impact Investing team drives tighter alignment between our purpose and values and our investments. Through impact investing, we create positive, measurable social and/or environmental outcomes and long-term value for members and the communities we serve, while building financial strength.

The potential investment opportunities we consider include organizations that:

  • Align with our values and can demonstrate their impact
  • Demonstrate best practices in ESG and diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Support us in achieving at least one of our priority United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

To date, we have committed $2.75M to impact investments, with more to come.

Fostering people’s wellbeing – financial and beyond

Creating greater corporate sustainability starts with a solid understanding of our corporate performance. By partnering with Sustainalytics, a Morningstar Company and leading independent ESG firm providing research, ratings and data, we established an accurate ranking based on the material risks within our business.

Our ESG Risk Rating

First West ESG Rating Low Risk
As of June 2, 2023, First West received our third annual ESG Risk Rating from Sustainalytics and was assessed to be at 11.3 low risk of experiencing material financial impacts from ESG factors. First West’s ESG Risk Rating places our credit union in the sixth percentile in the banking industry, and fourth percentile in the global ranking of all companies assessed by Sustainalytics.*

Our excellent Sustainalytics rating demonstrates that we are doing exceptionally well at managing our risk. Knowing that First West is strong and prepared to grow responsibly, our members and capital investors can feel confident that First West continues to be a safe place for their money.

Sustainalytics Rated: Low Risk

How is this calculated?

Our Sustainalytics ESG Risk Rating is derived from an evaluation of multiple exposure factors (including our business model, financial strength, geography and incident history) and how well we are managing those risks. Our score on these factors is assigned a rating based on how well we stack up with our Morningstar Category peers to provide a quantitative measure of ESG risk.

For years First West has led the Canadian banking industry in responsible investing, which is an ethical approach to wealth management that drives positive environmental and social outcomes. The portfolio of funds that our wealth experts manage for First West's members has one of the highest percentages of responsible investments in Canada. It's a tangible example of how we apply ESG principles in everything we do.
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Paul Brodeur, Chief Strategy & Market Growth Officer

Building healthy communities

Giving back to our communities is part of who we are. Since 2010 we’ve invested more than $39.7 million into supporting local non-profit and charitable organizations that help make our communities stronger.

Enabling equity, inclusion and diversity

We believe in cultivating an environment in which every First West team member, member and community partner—both present and future—is valued for their uniqueness and is empowered to thrive.

Championing democratic governance

As a member-owned cooperative, we’re governed by the same people who use our services and rely on us for their financial futures. We’re guided by a democratically elected board of directors who steward our credit union’s future on behalf of all our members.

Expanding ESG priorities for a more sustainable tomorrow

Our inaugural ESG rating marks the beginning of our journey to become a more sustainable organization – a journey that our members play a significant role in. We’re committed to continuously improving how we address the needs of our members, neighbours, communities and world. Our ESG commitment will continue to evolve and mature as we work to understand more in the near future about our members’ perspectives on the environmental, social and governance challenges of today’s world and how those align with our purpose – together, we create a future where everyone can flourish.

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