Social responsibility is more than just a buzzword... what does it really mean?

11 Sep 2019 5:58 PM | Marie-Louise Rankin (Administrator)


As we begin to understand the impact we’re having, more and more of us are striving to be responsible custodians of the planet we call home. Even simple things like recycling, riding to work instead of driving, or rejecting single-use plastic can go a long way to helping us live a more sustainable life. 

But what about those things outside our immediate control? Can we hold the businesses and organisations we support to the same high standards? Great news – there is a local organisation who is doing just that! 

The Responsible Investment Association Australasia^

In the world of banking and finance, the Responsible Investment Association Australasia^(RIAA) is the peak body representing responsible and ethical investors across Australia and New Zealand. 

With an active network of over 240 members, managing more than $9 trillion in assets globally, the RIAA promotes and supports approaches to responsible investment, helping to achieve a more sustainable society, environment and economy. 

Know more about the RIAA and their processes. 

What to ask your Bank

With strong scientific evidence that the production and use of fossil fuels contributes to climate change, more and more of us are welcoming the shift to renewable energy. But does your bank share this public sentiment? 

Here are some questions you can ask to make sure your bank is acting responsibly:

  • Are they involved in any activity that contributes to large-scale greenhouse pollution from the production of fossil fuels?
  • Does your bank lend funds to any business or organisation that participates in the manufacture or distribution of harmful goods such as alcohol, armaments, pornography, uranium or tobacco?
  • Are they involved in the financing of military activities, deforestation, correctional facilities, cryptocurrency, slavery or any kind of gross environmental damage?
  • Does your bank sponsor contentious activities such as gambling, or donate money, gifts or employee time to support political candidates or organisations?

If the answer is "yes" to any of these, you can send a strong message that you don’t approve by shifting your accounts to a financial institution that acts in a more responsible manner. But it’s not only the potential damage your bank’s investments can do. Are they active in the community? What percentage of profits does your bank invest in social and environmental programs?

Know more about UniBank’s approach to responsible banking 

Socially responsible investments

As a member of UniBank, you can expect your investments to be handled ethically and responsibly. You don’t want your hard-earned money to fund businesses who don’t have our world’s best interests at heart. 

All retail mortgages and deposit accounts opened by UniBank are Certified as Responsible Investment. They have been independently Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia^ (RIAA). 

Know more about UniBank’s certification by the RIAA.

By Phillip Middleton, UniBank


UniBank is a division of Teachers Mutual Bank Limited ABN 30 087 650 459 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238981.
Membership eligibility applies to join the Bank. Membership is open to citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are current or retired employees, students and graduates of Australian universities or family members of members of the Bank.

^RIAA. Retail mortgages and deposits have been certified by RIAA according to the strict operational and disclosure practices required under the Responsible Investment Certification Program. The Responsible Investment Certification Program does not constitute financial product advice. Neither the Certification Symbol nor RIAA recommends to any person that any financial product is a suitable investment or that returns are guaranteed. Appropriate professional advice should be sought prior to making an investment decision. RIAA does not hold an Australian Financial Services Licence. Teachers Mutual Bank Limited's $1 billion Debt Issuance Programme has been certified by RIAA according to the strict operational and disclosure practices required under the Responsible Investment Certification Program. www.responsibleinvestment.org   

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