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Green Banks -- I Abstract -- II Table of contents -- III Table of figures -- IV List of tables -- V List of abbreviations -- 1 Introduction -- 1.1 Background -- 1.2 Research focus -- 1.3 Research aim and objectives -- 1.4 Outline structure -- 2 Literature Review -- 2.1 Ethical Banks -- 2.2 Measuring social and environmental Reporting -- 2.3 Ethical decision making -- 2.4 Emerging issues and the need for empirical research -- 3 Theoretical Framework -- 4 Data and methodology -- 4.1 Research design -- 4.2 Survey -- 4.3 Data collection and analysis -- 4.4 Practical research problems -- 5 Findings and analysis of results -- 5.1 Respondents' characteristics and attitude towards different bank types -- 5.2 Evaluation of ethical criteria -- 5.3 Final list of criteria -- 6 Conclusion -- 6.1 Summary of findings -- 6.2 Limitations -- 6.3 Opportunities for further research -- VI References -- VII Appendix A -- VIII Appendix B.
As ethical banks have developed from niche players to a serious competition for traditional banks, supposedly ethical banks and even traditional banks use the term ethical bank in order to sell bank services under the cloak of sustainable and ethically correct business conduct.Therefore, the aim of this research is to make truly ethical banks distinguishable from traditional banks by investigating, analyzing and determining principles, ethical banks have to fulfill or refrain from in order to call themselves truly ethical. Based on academic research results, a web-based survey identifies the bank customer's attitude towards sustainability, ethics, and their banking, and the ethical attitude towards the nine areas of business, banks may be confronted with. The survey results build the basis for a list of positive and negative ethical guiding principles which should serve as a general standard for ethical banks.Nevertheless, the ethical guiding principles need to be continuously reviewed and validated as a consequence of the ever-changing environmental, social and legal environment. In the case of its direct implementation, a control mechanism within or outside the bank must monitor and ensure compliance with these principles. Auszug aus dem Text Text Sample: Chapter 2.2.1, Environmental Reporting: Unlike financial information, there are neither standard Environmental Reporting guidelines, nor a universally accepted definition of sustainable reporting (KPMG, 2008, p. 8). In comparison to financial reports, environmental reports differ in many ways because there 'are no required contents or presentation styles' (Lober, et al., 1997, p. 62). And while researchers criticised a decade ago that banks encourage short-term goals only, today there are several reporting guidelines by different institutions, reflecting the urge for ethical behaviour in the
financial service industry. 'Sustainable Reporting Guidelines' being the most common (Schmidheiny & Zorraquin, 1996, p. 4; Tarna, 2001). In general, each approach has different strengths and weaknesses, and according to Lober, et al. (1997, p. 62) corporate environmental reports differ by the amount of quantitative and qualitative disclosure, the degree of interaction between the reader and the report, and 'the reports' ability to convey an evolution in corporate performance over time' (Lober, et al., 1997, p. 62). Cultural differences seem to be a further differentiating factor. Jeucken (2002a, p. 13) discovered that there is 'conformity within a country […], [but] while the economy is global, […] peer pressure appears confined within nation borders'. However, certain similarities are striking in all reports (Dias-Sardinha, et al., 2007, p. 16): '[The] use of qualitative and/or quantitative indicators […], clustering of indicators into categories […], and [the] use of structural information that may be organized in frameworks'. Against this background, Henriques and Richardson (2004, p. 72f.) outlined that poor standardisation means that stakeholders - including customers - cannot comprehend the extent organisations act environmentally and socially responsible because in many cases these reports just don't make 'sense when taken out of the context of capitalism, local laws and culture […], the state and the functioning of wider environmental systems' (Henriques & Richardson, 2004, p. 72f.). It seems clear that simply requiring banks to disclose environmental information will not help stakeholders to make informed decisions on ethical bank behaviour. 2.2.2, Ethical Performance Measurement: Because stakeholders have difficulties making decisions on Ethical Banks, Stigson (1999, p. 6) proposed to include metrics to measure ethical behaviour. Since
environmental reports suffer from a lack of comparability, ethical metrics set in proportion to economic indicators can help maintaining credibility, prepare qualitative and quantitative ethical data in a comprehensible way and help converting data into conclusive and concise information about ethical performance. Bartolomeo (1995) defines metrics as 'quantitative and qualitative information that allow the evaluation […] of [a] company['s] effectiveness and efficiency' with respect to social and environmental aspects. These Ethical Performance Indicators (EPI) allow adopting 'appropriate measures of environmental [and social] protection in terms of effectiveness and efficiency; the empowerment of [..] [ethical] policy by a better definition and monitoring of [social and] environmental objectives; an effective definition of responsibilities and an aid for the implementation of […] [an ethical] management systems; and the improvement of external and internal communication on [..] [sustainable] achievements and programs' (Bartolomeo, 1995). As the definition indicates, EPIs have the potential to become a central management tool. This is further underlined by the establishment of ISO-Standards 14031 and 14032, defining Environmental Performance Evaluation as a 'process to facilitate management decisions regarding an organization's environmental performance by selecting indicators, collecting and analysing data, assessing information against environmental performance criteria, reporting and communicating, and periodic review and improvement of this' (Gee, 2001, p. 26). Skilius and Wenneberg (1998, p. 6) added that EPIs prepare qualitative and quantitative ethical data in a more comprehensible way and help converting data into conclusive and concise information about social and environmental performance. Yale University (2012, p. 16) has successfully
established such indicators, but on country level. 2.2.3, Ethical Guiding Principles: Apart from environmental reports and EPIs, banks usually disclose their own Ethical Guiding Principles (EGP). However, reviewing internet-presentations and environmental reports of 28 banks standing for ethical behaviour (Appendix B), has resulted in major differences in the extent and content of EGPs. Given prior analysis of Environmental Reporting and EPIs, it is not surprising that there are large disagreements between the content, form and extent of bank's EGPs. Especially local banks, like 'Femu qui' (Corsica) or 'Colonya Caixy Pollença' (Spain), disclose either no information on ethical principles or provide general information about corporate values, objectives or code of conducts. This is coherent with research by Melrose-Woodman and Kverndal (1976) - analysing ethical codes in 130 UK companies, showing that 60 companies did not disclose any ethical codes, following the opinion that 'attitudes to social responsibility would be evident through management decisions' (Schlegelmilch & Houston, 1989, p. 10). A different approach to implement ethics is an Ethical Policy Unit/Committee, as used by the 'Co-operative Bank' and 'Caisse Solidaire du Nord-Pas-de-Calais'. According to Winlow and Hall (2011, p. 400) such committees are an 'attempt to compensate for the loss of the traditional symbolic order' and aim to ensure 'that the bank has the appropriate means for promoting proper decision making and compliance with laws, regulations and internal rules; provides oversight of the compliance function' (Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, 2010, p. 13). Its tasks are similar to Sharia advisors in Islamic Banks because they help underlining the merits of Ethical Banking, establishing and monitoring the compliance with ethical principles, and informing customers.
'In Islamic terms this is a matter of Ijtihad, […] of fundamental principles to changing circumstances' (Wilson, 2002, p. 52). Hence, the committee should occupy a pro-active role - involved in business aspects and regulations. Larger banks like the German 'GLS Bank', Dutch 'Triodos Bank' or British 'Unit Trust Bank' serve as pioneers and have sophisticated EGPs. Their ethical values are expressed in ethical codes and positive and negative criteria. This is in line with the idea of Islamic Banking, where banks conduct business according to Sharia principles, prohibiting Riba, Gharar and Maysir. Profit/Loss sharing and Halal activities are supported by Islamic Banks and serve as positive criteria (Marimuthu, et al., 2010, pp. 53-54). Wilson (2002, pp. 51-52) added a word of caution as 'Islamic banks often describe themselves as […] ethical financial services, but they do not spell out explicitly what is meant by this'. However, one similarity between Ethical and Islamic Banks is that 'the word ethical is used as a label, […] but there is no attempt to make the link between what is ethical and the specific methods of conducting financial transactions […] [and] to explain the ethical merits of how the bank conducts its business directly to the clients' (Wilson, 2002, pp. 51-52). Hence, only few Ethical Banks disclose detailed information on their underlying ethical principles, commandments, prohibitions and their overall investment and lending policy. Merely stating to be ethical is insufficient. Biographische Informationen After the completion of her apprenticeship as a Qualified Bank Officer, Hedwig Franziska Heerdt has obtained a Bachelor of Arts in International Management from the International School of Management in Dortmund. After gaining academical and professional experience in the UK, China and Mexico, she obtained a Master's degree in
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