After the launch of the bank's Ethical Policy poll, we expressed our surprise that some of the statements in the bank's existing Ethical Policy were not included in the survey. For example, the bank's policy on not financing “any government or business which fails to uphold basic human rights in its sphere of influence” was missing entirely, while the policy on tax avoidance had changed from one of not financing companies “that take an irresponsible approach to the payment of tax in the least developed countries” to one on not banking “businesses that illegally avoid paying tax”, which we felt was much weaker.
Given that the bank had assured customers that it was not its intention to exit any existing policy areas, we wrote the bank a letter to clarify things. The bank has written us a response, reiterating that its aim is not to exit any areas of the policy, and that the bank needed to be selective about what it included in the survey due to factors such as time constraints, and that "this does not mean we are any less committed to those aspects of the Ethical Policy".
The response is reassuring, and shows the bank knows we are watching this process carefully. We'll be looking carefully at the final policy when it is released.