Triodos sits at the top or near the top of a number of our product guide tables, including current accounts, saving accounts and cash ISAs. It is the sole ‘Best Buy’ company in our guide to current accounts.
Triodos Bank only lends to organisations which create real social, environmental and cultural value such as charities, social businesses, community projects and environmental initiatives.
Triodos publishes details of every organisation and company that it lends to on its website, which is pretty much unheard of in the banking sector. As such it scored Ethical Consumer’s best rating for lending transparency.
Triodos also received half a positive company ethos mark from Ethical Consumer due to being a certified B Corporation, which means it had been assessed against standards for social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
Triodos has a policy against financing companies that are involved in producing or trading in weapons.
Although it largely scored well in our ‘politics’ ratings, the 2021 Triodos annual report stated that the company’s highest paid director received £283,000 in total compensation, which was considered to be excessive. As such it lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Anti-Social Finance category.
Triodos scored Ethical Consumer’s best rating for Carbon Management and Reporting, because it does not finance fossil fuels and exclusively finances renewable energy initiatives in the energy sector.
It also discusses its own direct emissions as a company, and has the ambition of becoming net zero by 2035 (and has an intermediary target for 2030).
Triodos’ transparency means that any of us can hold it to account and challenge it on its lending and investments, and workers in Spain have done exactly that.
Triodos has been criticised by the trade union SOC-SAT, which claims that Triodos provides financial services to an unethical organic company in southern Spain called Biosabor. Ethical Consumer interviewed former workers from this company, who made a range of allegations against the Spanish company, including underpayment, discrimination, falsified timesheets, and unfair dismissals.
Triodos responded, “The evidence that Biosabor has provided continues to indicate its working practices and overall positive impact are aligned with Triodos Bank’s mission” and says that the bank calls for “legal and dignified working conditions for all”.
The union is calling for a boycott of Triodos due to its financing of Biosabor.
We also received an email from a reader who, when looking at Triodos' website, noticed that it had investments in Israeli companies. One of these is a software company called Check Point with possible connections to the Israeli government. This isn't a clear case of an unethical investment or violation of the BDS call – the BDS movement doesn't explicitly call for a boycott of all Israeli companies. But it helps demonstrate why Triodos' transparency is so important.
It means that people like our readers can do their own research and make decisions based on a lot more information than most banks give.
In 2021, NGO Sinergia Animal ranked 69 global banks and investors on their policies on animal welfare for farmed animals, animal testing, fashion, conservation, education, entertainment, and commercial activities (like circuses or horse racing). Triodos got an overall score of 95%, the highest score of all 69 banks.
For animal farming it scored 18/20 (90%), dropping marks on the Mutilations sub category because it only supports organic businesses but Sinergia commented that some painful procedures, like dehorning, are allowed under organic farming.
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