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Ethical policy

Co-operative & Community Finance encourages local economic regeneration by enabling people to create, own and democratically control the businesses in which they work, or which operate in their local community.
Co-operative & Community Finance funds are available to enterprises which practise or support principles of co-operation, common ownership, employee, community or social ownership, equal opportunity and workplace democracy, and sustainable development.

The Ethical Policy sets out the positive and negative criteria which guide the way in which Co-operative & Community Finance carries out its business activities.

Positive criteria

As well as avoiding certain forms of business, we actively support businesses which benefit their employees, communities and environment. In particular, we will actively support the following:

  • Co-operatives and community-owned enterprises: Development and promotion co-operatives, community-owned enterprises, credit unions and charities with trading subsidiaries.
  • Promotion of co-operative values and principles: Co-operative & Community Finance endorses and abides by the internationally recognised co-operative values and principles and expects that borrowers adhere to them as appropriate.
  • Social responsibility: Fair trade organisations and products.
  • Companies promoting sound employment practices.
  • Companies with policies and procedures that encourage good principles of business behaviour and ethics.
  • Environment: Companies which provide solutions to climate change through the development, promotion and/or use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
  • Companies which promote recycling and sustainable waste management.
  • Companies which operate good environmental practice.


Negative criteria

The ethical policy seeks to ensure that Co-operative and Community Finance avoids practice which it considers unethical. In particular we will not lend to, and will avoid general business dealings with, any organisations:

  • Involved with the production or sale of weapons.
  • Which fail to uphold basic human rights within their sphere of influence.
  • With connections with oppressive regimes.
  • Involved in the production of tobacco and tobacco products.
  • Which have been convicted of serious environmental pollution.
  • Which produce or distribute pornographic material.
  • Which use timber from unsustainable sources.
  • Which manufacture and/or distribute pesticide products which are harmful to the environment.

Application of the policy

Co-operative & Community Finance applies its ethical policy when lending, making other investments and in its general business dealings. In particular we use the ethical policy criteria to assess:

  • Core activities of organisations applying for loans.
  • Companies in which Co-operative & Community Finance invests or holds money.
  • ICOF’s own business activities and operations.


Including good conditions of employment (job sharing, career breaks, maternity/paternity breaks), equal opportunities, health and safety, etc.

Human rights includes labour practices that relate to human rights, such as non-discrimination, freedom of association/collective bargaining, child labour, forced and compulsory labour, disciplinary practices and indigenous rights.

Human rights also refers to those rights set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are seen as the universal rights which every human being is entitled to enjoy and have protected. They include a broad range of basic rights including:

Political rights (e.g right to asylum, right to take part in government).
Civil rights (e.g right to life, liberty and security, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of expression).
Economic rights (e.g right to own property, right to work).
Cultural rights (e.g right to education, right to participate in cultural life).
‘Oppressive regimes’ are those where basic human rights, as set out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, are denied in a systematic manner over time. Links to an oppressive regime may include those businesses operating in states governed by oppressive regimes, whose activities are considered to support or benefit the regime, and businesses using state security forces or supplying arms to state security forces within an oppressive regime.

Including publishing, printing distributing or selling pornographic newspapers, magazines, films or videos.