Madison, WI-L.R. (Bobby) McVeigh, World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) chairman and second vice chair of Credit Union Central of Canada, spoke at the University College of Cork, Ireland June 8, on the topic of "Social Responsibility and Credit Unions: A Canadian Perspective."
The Canadian formula for encouraging self- sufficiency in credit union members, as McVeigh explained, includes building "livelihood assets" through community economic development, charitable giving, social initiatives and voluntarism.
Voluntarism is a uniquely high priority in Canada. Many of these credit unions, McVeigh stated, pay for their employees to do volunteer work, and a great number of these employees continue the work in their free time. "At 77 Canadian credit unions," said McVeigh, "volunteerism is taken so seriously that it has become an integral part of employee performance evaluations."
He went on to give numerous examples of credit unions across Canada that have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to local communities with the National Credit Union Award for Community Economic Development, providing summaries of the programs they've spearheaded.
One such program, appropriately named "Spare Change," rounds account balances of participating members to the nearest dollar amount and donates the extra cents to one of three causes, homelessness, child poverty or environmental preservation. Though each program participant contributes an average of only six dollars per year, their combined contribution totaled US$13,000 in 2002.
Not only are Canadian credit unions committed to their communities, as McVeigh explained, they are also responsible employers. Because of their progressive policies such as profit sharing, flexible work hours, good benefit plans and employee wellness plans, they have made the list of "Best 50 Companies to Work for in Canada."
But maintaining these standards of excellence is no simple feat. McVeigh offered a "cautionary tale" about the failed Four Corners bank to warn about the dangers of poor governance. "Social responsibility needs to be partnered with good management if it is going to be effective," he concluded.
True social responsibility extends to the world community, McVeigh explained, but in practicing this kind of global work, there is a danger of neglecting the local community. In the conclusion of his speech, McVeigh answered the concern of some that, in an era of ever- increasing globalization, credit unions are shifting away "from their member focus and their community roots," expressing his strong feelings to the contrary. "It's my assertion that credit unions are even more committed to social responsibility [on the local level] because it distinguishes credit unions from other financial institutions."
McVeigh also gave broader talks, on credit union structure and philosophy, at the Waterford Credit Union and in the town of Mullingar. Click to view photos.
El Consejo Mundial de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito es la asociación gremial y agencia de desarrollo para el sistema internacional de cooperativas de ahorro y crédito. El Consejo Mundial promueve el crecimiento sustentable de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y otras cooperativas financieras en todo el mundo a fin de facultar a las personas para que mejoren su calidad de vida a través del acceso a servicios financieros asequibles y de alta calidad. El Consejo Mundial realiza esfuerzos de defensa activa en representación del sistema global de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito ante organizaciones internacionales y trabaja con gobiernos nacionales para mejorar la legislación y la regulación. Sus programas de asistencia técnica introducen nuevas herramientas y tecnologías para fortalecer el desempeño financiero de las cooperativas de ahorro y crédito y profundizar su alcance comunitario.
El Consejo Mundial ha implementado 290 programas de asistencia técnica en 71 países. A nivel mundial, 57,000 cooperativas de ahorro y crédito en 103 países atienden a 208 millones de personas. Obtenga más información sobre el impacto global del Consejo Mundial en www.woccu.org.