Community comes first for ACU and B Corp
You can certify organic food and the efficiency of products and buildings, but how do you measure an organization’s ethical performance? That’s the aim of the B Corp movement—a worldwide initiative focused on recognizing the social and environmental impact of companies.
There are currently over 6,000 certified B Corp organizations worldwide, including brands such as Ben & Jerry’s, The Body Shop and Patagonia. ACU achieved B Corp accreditation in 2020 with the top score in Canada.
Validating our values
Every three years, B Lab carries out complete evaluations of the activities of B Corp companies against the criteria in its B Impact Assessment. The top five percent of scores worldwide are recognized annually in each of five categories: Community, Customers, Environment, Governance and Workers.
In addition to being recognized “Best for the World” in Governance and Customers for the second straight year in 2022, ACU was also recognized “Best for World” for Community. This designation recognizes businesses that address community-oriented problems by taking action on income inequality, environmental sustainability, ethical sourcing and meeting the needs of underserved communities.
“ACU has been on this journey for 80 years, since our founders created our credit union with what they called at the time a ‘social purpose’,” says Brendan Reimer, ACU Strategic Partner of Values-Based Banking, who has been part of the team leading the charge in the credit union’s B Corp journey. “B Corp’s comprehensive and rigorous evaluation model, which evolves each year, is designed to hold organizations accountable to how the world is changing, and for taking action where the challenges are greatest.”
Making an impact in our community
The Community category affirms the guiding principles that drive everything ACU does.
“ACU has stayed true to that original vision,” Brendan explains. “Our brand is about a meaningful and authentic differentiation on values. Our promise to members and the market is to use our financial capabilities to make a difference in the lives of people who need it most.”
As a co-operative, ACU is accountable to over 140,000 members and more than 500 employees. Our mission is to put them first, every day.
Putting stakeholders over stockholders
“People want to know that their money is doing more. They want to work with purpose-driven companies that are making a meaningful impact,” Brendan continues. “Our focus is to use our business as a force for good—and certification gives us a framework to evaluate and improve.”
ACU’s members collectively believe that as a co-operative, profits are a means to an end, not the organization’s only goal.
“We make financial decisions that contribute to the long-term financial health and resilience of ACU and our members, employees and communities,” Brendan explains. By investing in the community through education, partnerships and financial resources, ACU is building a future where all members and employees can be proud to have made a collective difference.
“We want a world where people’s basic needs are met and their rights are respected, where we live in communities and on a planet that is healthy and thriving,” Brendan continues. “Having all of us committed to that kind of future is the only way we’re going to get there.”
Being a force for good
B Lab’s assessment of ACU in the Customers category noted that its business model is intentionally designed to work for and through its customers to serve populations often excluded by the market.
“Our founders believed that if you can develop a business model purposefully to do good in the community, not just grow profits, you could not only succeed as a business, but thrive while making a difference in peoples’ lives,” Brendan reiterates. “ACU has proven this time and again.”
Over the years, this has evolved to include efforts toward truth and reconciliation, affordable housing, diversity and inclusion and poverty alleviation. ACU leverages its purchasing power to direct over $23 million annually to nonprofits, co-ops, B Corps, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, and Indigenous-owned and locally-owned businesses.
“All of those efforts are a manifestation of our core values,” says Brendan.
Going beyond greenwashing
The Environment category of the B Corp assessment evaluates how the business is minimizing its own environmental impact while contributing to the greater good of the planet. As one of Canada’s Greenest Employers and the first carbon-neutral credit union in Manitoba, we will continue to use our voice to advocate for climate resilience and support environmental sustainability through grants and sponsorships.
Looking to the future
Being recognized as a B Corp is more than a logo — it’s a global movement of companies and people going beyond ‘business as usual’ to make an impact on the world.
“Receiving the top B Corp score in Canada and being “Best for the World” in multiple categories tells me that ACU is truly living out its purpose. It really is an incredible tribute to the visionaries who built this credit union back in 1943,” Brendan says. “But it’s also an opportunity to reflect on where we can continue to evolve to have even greater impact.”
Looking ahead, the ACU team will continue to gather inspirational ideas for putting its values into action, adding to its evolution.
“Whether it’s building financial literacy with SEED Winnipeg, raising walls and spirits with Habitat for Humanity, promoting responsible investments for members, or supporting employee growth as one of the province’s top employers, we believe that going beyond the status quo is the way we elevate our collective potential,” Brendan concludes proudly.
If you’re looking to align your choices with an ethically driven organization, you can learn more about Manitoba-based B Corps or view the socially responsible investing choices available to you through ACU.
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