In January 2019 Ethical Consumer searched the Co-operative website for an investment policy in relation to Co-operative Insurance. The company had sent Ethical Consumer its 'Ethical Investment Policy' in February 2018 and this was still assumed to apply.
We support the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In line with this, we will not invest in:
• any government or business which fails to uphold basic human rights within its sphere of influence
• any business whose links to an oppressive regime are a continuing cause for concern
• any organisation that advocates discrimination and incitement to hatred
• the manufacture or transfer of armaments to oppressive regimes
• the manufacture or transfer of indiscriminate weapons, e.g. cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions
• the manufacture or transfer of torture equipment or other equipment that is used in the violation of human rights.
We will not invest in any business whose core activity contributes to:
• global climate change via the extraction or production of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), with an extension to the distribution of those fuels that have a higher global warming impact (e.g. tar sands and certain biofuels)
• the manufacture of chemicals that are persistent in the environment, bio accumulative in nature or linked to long term health concerns
• the unsustainable harvest of natural resources, including timber and fish
• the development of genetically modified organisms where there is evidence of uncontrolled release into the environment, negative impacts on developing countries, or patenting e.g. of indigenous knowledge
• the development of nanotechnology in circumstances that risk damaging the environment or compromising human health
We will seek to support poverty reduction. In line with this, we will not invest in organisations that:
• fail to implement basic labour rights as set out in the Fundamental ILO Conventions, e.g. avoidance of child labour, or that actively oppose the rights of workers to freedom of association, e.g. in a trade union
• take an irresponsible approach to the payment of tax in the least developed countries
• impede access to basic human necessities, e.g. safe drinking water or vital medicines
• engage in irresponsible marketing practices in developing countries, e.g. with regard to tobacco products and manufacture.
We will not invest in any organisation involved in:
• animal testing of cosmetic or household products or their ingredients
• the exploitation of great apes, e.g. in experimentation or general commercial use
• intensive farming methods, e.g. caged egg production
• blood sports, which involve the use of animals or birds to catch, fight or kill each other
• the fur trade.
The Co-operative Group did not publish any ethical investment, engagement or voting policies on its website. It fell into the bottom Ethical Consumer category for transparency of financial firms (EC172). Usually it would therefore lose half a mark under most Ethical Consumer categories for likely investments in companies criticised by Ethical Consumer. However, as the company had a thorough ethical policy it received an exemption. This reference is for information only.