Environmental, Social & Governance Responsibility
Driven by purpose
Creating a sustainable future in which we all thrive
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 create positive change for our members, our communities, our employees 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
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.
Shaping Our Future
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.
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 create 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.
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
As of May 20, 2022, First West received our second annual ESG Risk Rating from Sustainalytics and was assessed to be at 16.7 low risk of experiencing material financial impacts from ESG factors. First West’s ESG Risk Rating places our credit union in the twelfth percentile in the banking industry, and third percentile in the regional banking subindustry assessed by Sustainalytics.*
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.
Building healthy communities
Giving back to our communities is part of who we are. Since 2021 we’ve invested more than $32.7 million into supporting local non-profit and charitable organizations that help our communities thrive.
Enabling equity, inclusion and diversity
We believe in cultivating an environment in which every First West employee, 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 “why” – helping our members and communities thrive.