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Ethics Policy

INTRODUCTION

The Maleny Credit Union is a member-owned, financial services enterprise. Its activities are guided by the Objects laid out in Clause 2 of its Constitution, by its Vision and Mission statements and by the ethical principles introduced in the Members Declaration of Shared Values. The objective of this Ethics Policy is to formalise the ethical principles of the Maleny Credit Union and to provide operational guidelines for Staff and Directors.

The Policy consists of seven parts:

  • Part 1: A list of references and links to documents that inform this policy.
  • Part 2: A list of activities that MCU will seek to support through development of products and active engagement as part of its business operations.
  • Part 3: A list of activities that MCU will seek to avoid supporting explicitly or implicitly as part of its business operations.
  • Part 4: The Environment Policy
  • Part 5: The Community Development Policy
  • Part 6: Principles of corporate governance and financial stewardship.
  • Part 7: Processes for review, update, compliance and reporting with respect to this policy.

PART 1: OUR ETHICAL ENVIRONMENT

The Maleny Credit Union embraces ethical principles which are specific to this institution and others which are considered best practice for mutuals and cooperatives world-wide. The following is a list of documents that inform this policy.

1: Objectives of the Maleny Credit Union as outlined in Clause 2 of its constitution. (Appendix 1)

2: Vision and Mission Statements of the Maleny Credit Union (Appendix 2)

3: Maleny Credit Union Members Declaration of Shared Values. (Appendix 3)

4: Mutual Banking Code of Practice, published by COBA. (Appendix 4)

5: Seven internationally recognised principles of cooperation (Appendix 5)

Members, Staff and Directors of the Maleny Credit Union are expected to carry out their duties and responsibilities in a manner which is consistent with the above documents. All Members are expected to be familiar with documents 1, 2, 3 and 5, which will be made known to them at the time of applying for membership.

All members will sign the Declaration of Shared Values as part of their membership application.

All Staff and Directors should be additionally familiar with document 4. The Mutual Banking Code of Practice is considered to define the default code of conduct for Staff and Directors of Maleny Credit Union where specific statements are not made in this ethical policy.

There are additional documents which form the basis for an international code of ethics. While it is not expected or required that Staff and Directors read these documents, it is expected that they will desist from any course of action if it is demonstrated to be in contravention of these codes.

  1. Best Practices of the World Council of Credit Unions, www.woccu.org/financialinclusion/bestpractices
  2. United Nations Declaration of Human Rights      http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
  3. United Nations Six Principles for Responsible Investment (Appendix 6)
  4. Documents and advice available from the ILO’s Ethics Officer http://www.ilo.org/public/english/ethics/

The St James Ethics Centre http://www.ethics.org.au/ is an additional useful resource in cases where the Maleny Credit Union is attempting to resolve an ethical dilemma.

This Policy is also informed by the ethical positions of its Members on contemporary social and environmental issues. In 2012, the Maleny Credit Union conducted a Member survey and the collated results of that survey form Parts 2 and 3 of this Policy.

Finally, the Governance Policy of the Maleny Credit Union contains some clauses which have relevance to this Ethical Policy. Rather than repeating those clauses, they are simply referenced from this document. Staff and Directors are expected to be familiar with the Governance Policy which can be obtained at http://www.mcu.com.au/governance_policy.

PART 2: ACTIVITIES MCU SEEKS TO SUPPORT

MCU will seek to develop prudent financial products and services targeted to promote persons/organisations who engage in activities that support:

  • energy efficiency
  • pollution control and water management
  • progressive public transport policies
  • recycling and waste minimization
  • renewable energy production
  • sustainable timber production
  • technologies/policies that mitigate effects of climate change
  • benefit to indigenous communities
  • capital and social investment in local communities
  • ecologically sustainable population
  • fair trade, sustainable development for disadvantaged communities
  • indigenous land rights
  • equal employment and opportunity policies
  • healthy lifestyles
  • human rights
  • workers’ rights
  • biodynamic and organic meat industry
  • organic/biodynamic farming

PART 3: ACTIVITIES MCU SEEKS NOT TO SUPPORT

MCU will endeavour to avoid financial or any other support to individuals or businesses whose activities are detrimental or destructive of the environment, harmful to members of society or inhumane. Specifically, MCU directors have agreed that the following activities are included in this category.

  • Deforestation and harvesting of old growth forests
  • Nuclear power production
  • Coal, oil and gas extraction, including coal seam gas
  • Uranium mining
  • Arms, production and supply
  • Gambling industry
  • Tobacco production and promotion
  • Animal testing for cosmetics
  • Factory farming, e.g. battery hens and feedlots
  • Fur trade
  • Genetic engineering and GMOs
  • Unsustainable fishing

The core business of the Maleny Credit Union is to provide financial services to members and their communities.  Consequently, the Maleny Credit Union is obliged to participate in financial markets and transact with other organizations that do not necessarily comply with this Ethical Policy.  For example, Maleny Credit Union may from time to time obtain wholesale funds from major financial institutions or individuals, or deposit funds in such institutions.  Such activities will not imply an agreement with that organization’s ethics and values but are conducted in order to satisfy the requirements for prudent and responsible financial stewardship in the interests of maintaining financial benefit for members.

PART 4: ENVIRONMENT POLICY

The Maleny Credit Union:

  • Will take environmental consequences into consideration when making decisions.  It will report on those consequences wherever they can be reasonably determined.
  • Will adopt environmentally responsible guidelines for all areas of its operation and will report on its performance with respect to those guidelines.
  • Will avoid lending and investment decisions that result in environmental harm, particularly as described in Part 3 of this policy.
  • Will take whole-of-lifecycle environmental impact into account when making purchasing decisions.
  • Will give preference to purchasing environmentally sound and energy efficient products.
  • Will give preference to purchasing low radiation computer equipment.
  • Will give preference to purchasing goods made with recycled materials.
  • Will give preference to purchasing cleaning and building products that are least toxic.
  • Will endeavour to minimise use and waste of resources, in particular, of paper and electricity.
  • Will re-use and recycle materials wherever possible.
  • Will seek new ways to contribute to ecological sustainability.
  • Will promote and encourage an environmentally sensitive ethic amongst its staff and members.
  • Will promote safe and healthy work practices.
  • Will encourage staff and members to participate in community environment groups and significant environmental events such as tree plants and World Environment Day.
  • May choose from time to time, with the approval of the Board, to lobby for certain environmental issues.

PART 5: COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT POLICY

As stated in Clause 2.2 of its Constitution (see Appendix 1), the Maleny Credit Union recognises that the interests of its members are also served by promoting the development of the communities in which its members work and reside. We recognise that members live within four layers of community: local, regional, national and global.

The Maleny Credit Union will pursue community development programs that may vary from time to time consistent with its Objects, Vision and Mission. Specific programs include:

  1. The Maleny Credit Union will assist and promote the activities of its fully owned subsidiary, the Maleny Credit Union Charitable Trust, in ways deemed appropriate by the Board from time to time.
  2. The Maleny Credit Union will operate a “Monthly Giving Program” in which all members will be encouraged to participate.  The Monthly Giving Program will incorporate a number of initiatives as determined from time to time by the Board.  The program currently includes the “Spare Change Program” and the “Community Cause Account”. The operating principles of these programs may vary from time to time as determined by the Board.
  3. The “Spare Change” program will apply by default to all members’ savings accounts.
  4. Each member will be encouraged to contribute monthly to the “Community Cause Account”. Contributions go to a charity of the member’s choice, selected from a list which members themselves have drawn up.

In keeping with its Objects and with the sixth principle of Cooperation (see Appendix 5), the Maleny Credit Union will encourage and participate in cooperative programs with other Credit Unions, co-operatives and associations of Credit Unions and cooperatives, both locally and internationally.

Consistent with its HR policy, the Maleny Credit Union will facilitate its staff to contribute two days of community service per year to support local charities, community and environmental groups.

The Maleny Credit Union will make the forecourt of its Maple Street premises available to local charities, community or environmental groups, to conduct fund raising activities on non-business days and otherwise, at the discretion of the CEO.

PART 6: CORPORATE GOVERNANCE AND FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP

Maleny Credit Union, through its Governance Policy and Operational Policies, requires that high standards of corporate governance and financial stewardship are maintained.  In particular, the credit union has obligations under:

  • Banking Act 1959 and its regulation as an Approved Deposit Taking Institution (ADI) by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority;
  • Corporate and financial services licensing under the Corporations Act 2001 and regulation by Australian Securities and Investments Commission;
  • Consumer credit laws and the Trade Practices Act and credit licensing obligation;
  • Privacy, fair trading,  anti-discrimination, workplace health and safety and other Commonwealth and State legislation.

In addition, Maleny Credit Union undertakes to comply with the Mutual Banking Code of Practice which establishes higher standards than the law requires in a range of areas, and addresses areas not addressed by the law.  In particular, this Code establishes high standards of practice in the manner in which Maleny Credit Union interacts with and communicates with its members and non-members.

This Code is maintained by ABACUS and compliance by subscribers is monitored by Mutual Banking Code Compliance Committee Association.  See Appendix 4 for further details.

In its relations with all members, financial markets counterparties and each other the staff and directors of Maleny Credit Union will demonstrate and encourage:

  • Transparency and accountability
  • Best practice governance
  • Promotion of prudent financial practices to members and non-members alike

Maleny Credit Union aims to build cooperative and responsible relationships with regulators and industry groups consistent with its high ethical standards and philosophy of sound financial risk management.

It is the goal of Maleny Credit Union to offer fair terms of employment, to provide employees with appropriate opportunities to develop their skills and progress their careers and to ensure that the workplace is safe, and free from discrimination and harassment.

Employees are expected to perform their roles as required and conduct themselves in an honest and professional manner which is consistent with this Ethical Policy and the Governance Policy.  They have a duty to act responsibly in the workplace and to treat their fellow employees with respect.

PART 7: REVIEW, UPDATE, COMPLIANCE and REPORTING

This policy is to be publically available on the Maleny Credit Union website and will be made available in hard copy on request (at cost).

The ten promises of the Mutual Banking Code of Practice, published by COBA, should be prominently displayed in the public foyer of the MCU office and on its website.

The review and update of this policy will be the responsibility of the Social Accounting Subcommittee of the Maleny Credit Union.

The Social Accounting Subcommittee will monitor performance and compliance with this Policy and provide advice to the Board accordingly.

Complaints

Any complaint (made by a member or non-member) concerning an alleged breach of this Ethical Policy will be investigated by the CEO or delegated person and then reported to the Social Accounting Committee. The Maleny Credit Union will maintain an Ethical Complaints Register to be reviewed by the Social Accounting Subcommittee at its meetings.

Annual Report

The Annual Report of the Maleny Credit Union will include a report on compliance with this Ethical Policy.

Annual Calendar

This Ethical Policy will be subject to an annual calendar:

  • July: The Social Accounting Subcommittee prepares a report of MCU’s activities under this policy. This will be presented to the August Board Meeting for inclusion in the Annual Report.
  • September-October: The Social Accounting Subcommittee will determine if there are any ethical issues that should be appropriately dealt with at the AGM and so advise the Board.

From time to time (not exceeding four year intervals) and where requested by an AGM or SGM, members may provide input into this Ethics Policy.

APPENDIX 1

The Objects of the Maleny Credit Union as described in Clause 2 of its constitution.

2. Objects

2.1 The Credit Union operates as a financial co-operative.

2.2 The Credit Union has the following objects:

(a) to raise funds by subscription, deposit or otherwise, as authorised by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and Banking Act 1959 (Cth);

(b) to apply the funds, subject to the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and Banking Act 1959 (Cth), the Constitution of the Credit Union and the “Vision Statement” in providing financial accommodation to its members;

(c) to encourage savings amongst its members;

(d) to promote co-operative enterprise;

(e) to provide programs and services to its members to assist them to meet their financial, economic and social needs in an ecologically sustainable manner;

(f) to encourage appropriate ethical investment and ecologically sustainable development, within the local bio-region and nationwide;

(g) to promote, encourage and bring about human and social development among individual members and within the larger community within which members work and reside; and

(h) to further the interests of members and the communities within which they work and live through co-operation with other Credit Unions and co-operatives and associations of Credit Unions and cooperatives, locally and internationally.

APPENDIX 2

The Vision and Mission Statements of the Maleny Credit Union

Vision

To be a member owned banking organisation renowned for improving its members’ lives and the communities we interact with, through ethical, sustainable and community focussed initiatives and prosperity services.

Mission

To be a leading provider of ethical, sustainable and community minded financial solutions.

Maleny Credit Union will responsibly:

  • Meet the financial needs of our members through its member owned banking Organisation.
  • Maintain a strong commitment to the community including its Charitable Trust.
  • Facilitate access to relevant and aligned financial and ethical products and services while ensuring we maintain sound business and compliance practices.
  • Build strong businesses complimentary to its existing products and services.

APPENDIX 3

Members Declaration of Shared Values

 “What you stand for is becoming as important as what you sell.”

(Richard Barrett, Values Coordinator, World Bank, as quoted in The Bulletin, May 22, 2001)

Preamble

Every organization, through its activities, explicitly or implicitly projects a set of values. The Maleny Credit Union is a member-owned banking and financial services enterprise. It is also a social enterprise, that is, its purpose is to improve the lives of members through ethical, sustainable and community focused services as outlined in Maleny Credit Union’s Constitution.

In December 2012, the Maleny Credit Union Board surveyed members to better understand what ethical behaviours (above and beyond those required by law) they wanted the Maleny Credit Union to adopt. Building on the results of that survey and the Mission Statement of Maleny Credit Union, the Board has decided to ask all members (including staff and directors) to endorse a Declaration of Shared Values pertaining to the financial activities of the Maleny Credit Union and its members. It is now main-stream for businesses to be explicit about the values they practice. The Board is asking members to be explicit about the values of the Maleny Credit Union.

Declaration

We, the Members, Staff and Directors of Maleny Credit Union, agree to the following ethical values in the conduct of our financial affairs and support Maleny Credit Union in applying these same values in the conduct of its business:

1: In all our financial dealings, we will aspire, to the best of our ability, to promote the collective well-being of human, animal and plant life on planet Earth.

2: We understand that the Maleny Credit Union has a comprehensive Ethical Policy that guides its implementation of the principles of sustainable and ethical banking. We understand that, as members of the Maleny Credit Union, we may be asked from time to time to provide input into the formulation of its Ethical Policy.

3: In our relations with all Maleny Credit Union members, we (including Staff and Directors) will demonstrate and encourage-

  • honesty and integrity
  • transparency and accountability, and
  • best practice governance.

4: We will encourage financial responsibility in all Maleny Credit Union members. In particular, we will-

  •  endeavour to conduct our own financial affairs responsibly
  •  expect that directors will adopt prudent risk management in their stewardship of member savings, and
    • expect that Staff and Directors will promote prudent financial practices to members and non-members alike.

5. We will support the endeavours of Maleny Credit Union to foster a stronger social and economic community through facilities such as the Maleny Credit Union Charitable Trust and Monthly Giving Program.

6: We endorse the Maleny Credit Union’s policy to avoid financial dealings or instruments which are detrimental to the environment or to society. This would include, for example, activities that-

• encourage production of weapons, tobacco or harvesting of old growth forest

• engage in predatory practices or labour exploitation, or

• abuse human dignity or contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/.

7: We endorse the Maleny Credit Union’s policy to develop prudent financial products and services that assist persons/organisations who-

•            promote sustainable resource and energy use

•            encourage dignity and respect for all people

•            promote positive workplace and management practices, and

•            pursue any activity of benefit to society or the environment as described in Maleny Credit Union’s ethical policy.

8: We endorse the seven internationally recognised principles of cooperation which also apply to member-owned mutuals: voluntary membership, democratic control, economic participation, autonomy, education, cooperation among cooperatives and concern for community
http://ica.coop/en/what-co-op/co-operative-identity-values-principles.

9: In our personal financial dealings, to the best of our ability, we will endeavour to act in accord with the shared values that we ask the Maleny Credit Union to promote.

Signed:

Member number:

Date:

 

APPENDIX 4

The Mutual Banking Code of Practice, published by COBA. Download from http://www.abacus.org.au/images/stories/publications/mbcop/MBCOP_Booklet_-_Jan_2010.pdf

The Mutual Banking Code of Practice, the code of practice for credit unions and mutual building societies, is an important public expression of the value ABACUS places on improving the financial wellbeing of its individual members and their communities. The Code is summarised in ten promises:

Our 10 Key Promises to members are

  1. We will be fair and ethical in our dealings with you.
    1. We will always act honestly and with integrity, and will treat you fairly and reasonably in all our dealings.
  2. We will focus on our members
    1. We will place a high priority on service, competitiveness and member focus.  We will provide friendly and reliable service to our members and counter-parties.
  3. We will give you clear information about our products and services
    1. We will provide clear and accessible information about our products and services, so you can make informed decision about the product you want.  We will disclose interest rates and fees and charges in an accessible clear format and provide you regular account statements.  We will give you information on how to minimise fees and charges.  Our advertising and promotional material will not be misleading.
  4. We will be responsible lenders
    1. We will lend responsibly and will try to assist you if you find yourself in financial difficulties.
  5. We will deliver high customer service and standards
    1. We will issue and distribute products and provide services that are useful, reliable and of value to members and customers.  We will make sure our staff and agents or representatives are well trained.  We will promote secure and reliable banking and financial services, and keep you up to date on any changes to the products and services we provide you.  We will treat your personal information as confidential.
  6. We will deal fairly with any complaints
    1. We will handle complaints promptly and fairly and provide you with information on avenues for resolving disputes if we are not able to reach agreement with you.
  7. We will recognise member rights as owners
    1. As mutual institutions our members are our owners.  We will ensure that you receive information on the benefits, costs and impacts of any reasonable proposal to change our mutual structure.  As far as possible, we will ensure that any information on proposals to change our mutual structure provided to you by other parties is fair and not misleading.
  8. We will comply with our legal and industry obligations
    1. We will be responsible, prudent managers of our institution, and will comply with all our obligations under the law and relevant codes of practice.  We will act fairly and consistently with good banking and financial service industry practice.
  9. We will recognise our impact on the wider community
    1. Credit unions and mutual building societies have a strong community focus.  We will take account of the impact of our operations on staff, the communities we serve and our members.  We will promote community engagement and will contribute to community activities and projects.
  1. 10.  We will support and promote this Code of Practice.
    1. a. We will promote the Mutual Banking Code of Practice, ensure that our staff are trained to put it into practice, and support its monitoring and effectiveness.

APPENDIX 5

The seven principles of cooperation as adopted by the 1995 General Assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance held in Manchester, England, on the occasion of the Alliance’s Centenary.

http://ica.coop/en/what-co-op/co-operative-identity-values-principles.

1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership
Co-ops are voluntary organisations, open to all persons willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control
Co-ops are democratic organisations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Members serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. Members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote).

3rd Principle: Equitable Economic Participation and Distribution
Members contribute equitably to the capital of the cooperative. Surplus or savings, if any, arising out of the operations of the co-op belong to the members and should be distributed in such a manner as would avoid one member gaining at the expense of others.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence
If cooperatives enter into agreements with other organisations, including government, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information
All co-ops should provide for the education of their members, officers and employees and of the general public in the principles of cooperation.

6th Principle: Cooperation among Cooperatives
Co-operatives serve their members and communities most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional, and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through objectives and policies accepted by their members.

Appendix 6

United Nations Six Principles for Responsible Investment

http://www.unpri.org/about-pri/the-six-principles/

This document refers to ESG issues, meaning environmental, social and governance issues.

Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.

Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.

Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.

Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.

Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.

Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.