Credit Union Central of Canada (CUCC), the national trade association for Canadian credit unions, engaged Coro from 2010 – 2014 to develop practical tools and resources to help credit unions to improve their own social responsibility performance and reporting.
CUCC’s credit union members have a long history of being community leaders and champions, but many had not kept pace with new best practices in corporate social responsibility. They demonstrated a strong commitment to giving back to their communities, but lacked strategies to generate and communicate strong results. The sector risked losing business to competitors that were developing and broadly communicating their CSR strategies. If the industry continued to under-manage, under-implement and under-report its CSR benefits, it could lose its differentiation and business opportunities.
Coro developed a comprehensive, cost-effective suite of tools, resources and training for a diverse audience of credit unions in every region of Canada. The resources needed to be in plain language, provide options for large and small members, be practical and motivational, include beginner and advanced practices and be appropriate regardless of the member’s CSR orientation, belief or philosophy.
Coro drafted the tools and engaged with an advisory committee of credit union CSR practitioners to finalize the materials. She consulted the membership, identified leading practices among members, wrote case studies and provided valuable references and links for further information. Tools and resources included:
- A ready-to-use presentation covering the basics of CSR for a credit union board or management
- A how-to guide for developing a CSR vision and policy
- A research report on the CSR business case
- A guide to best practices in CSR reporting
- A checklist assessment tool and guide on CSR governance and management
- A sustainable purchasing guide for credit unions.
In addition to drafting the tools, Coro led webinars for CUCC’s members on these and other CSR topics.
By 2014, informed by Coro’s sustainability roadmap for industry associations, CUCC sought to get credit unions thinking about the kinds of non-financial metrics being used by leaders in financial sector. This resulted in research into the practices of sector leaders and guidance on developing CSR metrics for the sector that Coro authored. Coro also spoke at an industry conference on her findings, and participated in an exercise helping members to agree on the importance of compiling and sharing common metrics and to prioritize metrics for this project.
Coro was sensitive to the challenges faced by our association leading a sustainability effort, particularly the wide range of values and experience regarding CSR in our sector. The tools and resources she developed were progressive and practical. That’s where her previous experience as a Board association member was invaluable. I consider Coro an 'apostle' of sustainability – knowledgeable, well-connected and powerfully persuasive about her field.
Since 2010, more and more credit unions have adopted CSR strategies informed by CUCC’s CSR resources. The CSR reports and publications have been accessed hundreds of times. CSR has a higher profile and CUCC’s members are more sophisticated in their understanding of the opportunity and benefits of CSR as key to creating business and social value.
Members and the association now have a common vision, language and reference for communicating about CSR to their members, employees, leaders, communities, governments and other stakeholders.