At Vancity, we know that using the tools of finance for members and their communities produces both growth and impact. In a tough year for Canada’s
Our response to COVID-19’s unexpected outbreak showed how a co-operative can mobilize its membership to help each other get through a major crisis together. In a world struggling to figure out how to respond, our values and our strong capital position provided a very clear path: enable members to focus on immediate needs and support the most vulnerable in our communities. The Board was inspired by the dedication and creativity of management and employees as they found ways to help thousands of members, dozens of community organizations, and many local businesses withstand the financial impact of the pandemic. Efforts such as offering zero per cent interest on credit card rates for six months stood out.
Being a financial co-operative has always meant working to address inequities and remove barriers to economic well-being. It was disturbing for the Board to watch how the pandemic was making existing inequities and barriers worse for women and, in particular, for women of colour. The term “shecession” was coined to describe the unequal impact of the economic consequences of the pandemic. Obstacles such as gaps in pay and retirement savings as well as unequal care requirements have been compounded to the point that many women are leaving the workforce altogether, setting back decades of employment gains. I am proud of the work Vancity has been doing to fight this trend, such as our ongoing support of women entrepreneurs and advocacy on key issues such as public childcare.
The last year also spotlighted the fact that racism continues to plague our society, sometimes visibly, and sometimes hidden in legacy structures we are all part of. Vancity opposes racism and stands for diversity and inclusion. Last year, we recognized the need to do more and took an important decision to become an actively anti-racist financial institution. Our first step is a hard look at ourselves as a credit union, to uncover systemic racism. This work continues with a plan to ensure that our credit union is actively rejecting racism.
We continued our Reconciliation work with Indigenous communities including striving to create a more welcome and inclusive experience for Indigenous members. We are also exploring how we can expand the ways we serve Indigenous communities.
Our member focus and co-operative principles also guide our response to the climate crisis. Individual actions may feel like small steps given the magnitude of the crisis. But as a co-operative we all know that many small steps taken together can make a huge difference. Vancity has a long record of working to address environmental issues. Our ambitious climate commitments, including our goal to make Vancity net-zero by 2040, reflect our sense of urgency and will guide us in empowering our members and communities to join a climate transition that builds a world both clean and fair.