Our mission, vision and values

What makes Unity Trust different?

Our mission: achieve growth by being socially focused, customer centred and commercially driven.

Since we were established over 25 years ago, we have sought to put social change, social benefit and community involvement at the heart of what we do.

In that time, we have created a sustainable, socially responsible business. We use some of our profits to re-invest in our business to help more organisations in the future. The remaining profits are returned to our shareholders  - trades unions and the Co-operative Bank - which are both part of UK civil society.

What being socially focused means to us

Our vision: Unity will be the bank of choice for the trade union and social economy movements.

We are committed to enabling social development and supporting community involvement. We see the development of strategic partnerships with national umbrella organisations and others active in our key sectors as making a sustainable contribution to society.

As part of this, we are passionate about helping our customers achieve their goals in the development of communities and in the people that they support. We do this by making banking simple for them and by providing financial and practical support for events.

Being socially focused also means that we have clear policies and strict criteria of who we will and won't deal with.

How this translates into practice

We won't deal with any organisation which we believe supports or is engaged in activities which:

  • do not respect or value human rights
  • discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation
  • are undemocratic or intolerant of others' views, or which use intimidation or violence as a means to achieve business ends
  • do not support the formal organisation of labour within the workplace
  • are extremist
  • are directly involved in the manufacture of arms or explosives.

Additionally, we won't deal with any organisation which is based overseas. And, because we want to see a prosperous and vibrant UK economy, we will not outsource any of our (EU) operational requirements offshore.

What we mean by being customer centred

To us, being customer centred is what drives our business, because we know that it makes good business sense.

And we must be doing something right - for the last seven years we have been voted top for customer service in Charity Finance magazine's annual banking survey. And most¹ of all the new accounts that we open come to us by way of personal recommendation.

We want long term relationships with all of our customers, so we treat customers fairly and are open, honest and transparent in our dealings with them. We write in plain English and because we sometimes make mistakes, when we do, we will own up and aim to sort it to the customer's satisfaction.

  • We provide products and services that do what they say they will and are relevant to our customers' needs
  • We admit when we have made a mistake and strive hard to put it right
  • We are customer centred
  • We are easy to do business with and approachable
  • We are close to and understand our customers' needs
  • We focus on solutions and deliver on our promises
  • We will deliver value for money products and services
  • We will delight our customers.

Being a specialist bank means that we have a close relationship with our customers and the sectors in which they operate. We make it our business to understand the particular issues that they face on a day-to-day basis.

We are proud members of many national bodies², we fund research, support events to share best practice and stimulate debate and publish our own quarterly insight into new legislation and changing regulatory environments.

We maintain a regular dialogue with our customers and, where possible and practical, we develop our systems and products to meet their needs. This has led to the direct development of a number of initiatives.

We've developed increased levels of security for those organisations that want a number of people to authorise their online payments. We also use feedback to design new products to enable our customers to take advantage of government initiatives. 

To ensure that we maintain this strong customer focus, we need to ensure that our internal culture reflects our external values. That's why, in our dealings with each other:

  • we behave with respect and integrity and value teamwork
  • we work to ethical and principled controls and procedures
  • we encourage sharing and co-operation
  • we respect individual contributions and recognise that we can all make a difference

Our people policies actively support community involvement and engagement with the core principles of social responsibility. Examples include managers sitting on Boards and being actively involved in helping many charities and voluntary organisations.

We support, in cash and kind, many sector advisory bodies at national, regional and local levels, and actively encourage our staff to get involved in volunteering where they live. To support this, we give them up to 5 working days' paid leave each year for volunteer activities and match financial donations that they raise for charitable activities.

Measurement of and delivery of performance against our core values is an integral part of individuals' performance process.

...finally, why it's important that we're commercially driven

If we are to continue to be the bank of our choice in our chosen sectors, it's important that we operate efficiently. To do this, we need to generate profits to enable us to invest in the best systems and people, whilst providing shareholders with attractive commercial returns on their investment.

Time has shown that this approach can deliver a sustainable, socially responsible business which provides a real alternative for our customers, financial returns for our shareholders and, ultimately, growing numbers of organisations that we can bank.

The simplicity of this approach means increased business which equals greater financial returns, which in turn allows us to extend our services to more customers.

So, whilst we will seek growth for our shareholders, it is not growth at any cost, which means that we will look to deliver the goals of our shareholders by:

  • being ethically led
  • delivering on our plans
  • achieving optimum profits
  • involving them in our key decisions, and
  • delivering high standards of corporate and personal behaviours.

It's this approach that has been and continues to be the key to our success

By now we hope that you will have seen for yourself that we are not like most banks. We bring a different approach to banking; an approach that shows that - by being socially focused - our customers, shareholders, staff and the wider community in which we all live can derive a real and sustainable benefit.


¹ Source: Analysis of stated reasons for all account openings January - August 2008.

² ACEVO, CORE, IPA Involve, NACFB, NAVCA, NCVO, SCFDG, Social Enterprise UK and Unions 21, among others.