I was very proud to represent Assiniboine Credit Union along with our CEO at the annual meeting of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) in Melbourne, Australia. The meeting was hosted by bankmecu, the only Australian member of GABV.
Engaging Missions and Values
bankmecu helped fill our agenda with many details of their operations and facilitated learning journeys that demonstrated their commitment to values-based banking. Many of their staff were involved throughout our sessions so we were able to engage with them regarding their efforts to keep their mission and values strong as they work to resolve pressing social and environmental issues.
I even had the opportunity to visit a small local branch and meet the staff. They were thrilled to have international visitors and offered a beautiful tray of GABV cupcakes that had been prepared specifically for us. They also proudly displayed their values through the GABV/bankmecu posters in-branch.
Discussing Succession and Development
The first day, I attended the governance chair meeting where the incoming chair of bankmecu, Judith Downes, and six other board chairs attended a session hosted and convened by Vancity. Wherever we came from in the world, nobody was at a loss for discussion items pertaining to good governance practises.
We agreed as chairs that we needed further discussion on succession and the development of the next generation of board members and culture within the organization. Naturally we left knowing that we will maintain regular contact on a wide range of governance matters.
The topic of succession and development of the next generation within our organizations was also a topic for two small working groups for CEOs and board chairs. I had the privilege of facilitating these sessions with Hans Voortman, the chairperson of the board of the Dutch Triodos Bank. I was especially pleased that there was complete consensus of the commitment to not only recruit based on our mission and values but to continue to build on the values whether we are an elected board member or employee at any level.
Examples that support cultural alignment and the mission and vision of values-based banks were presented, including:
- total immersion programs within the communities we serve.
- having regular values-based discussions at boardroom and executive tables.
- accessing university co-operative programs.
- annual commitment to community in volunteer capacity.
- organization-wide buy-in.
Banking for Global Well-Being
I had the opportunity to attend two learning journeys led by the staff of bankmecu. One focused on their work in community housing where they have developed some very helpful measurements around health outcomes. The other was a project aimed at advocating for a universal disability insurance program and the provision of accessible services for disabled people.
Several public forums were well attended and the response to the topic of using profits to create a more equitable and sustainable world was well debated with very good public audience participation. The full house demonstrated to me how much interest there is in banking for good.
One of the other wonderful aspects of our meetings is that they were held in public spaces rather than a hotel meeting room. For example, two sessions were held in the Victoria State library, a beautiful old city library that is vital to the city. It is historical and filled with people of all ages using its services. It definitely is a community hub.
Introducing Winnipeg Folk Fest
When I was invited to present a short ‘Ted-style’ talk introducing an arts or cultural group member, our long-standing relationship with the Winnipeg Folk Festival was the first to come to mind.
I presented a brief summary of our history together to GABV attendees from around the world; and then we were treated to a great video courtesy of the Winnipeg Folk Festival that captured the spirit of their 40th anniversary festival in 2013. Coincidentally, the music in the video features Australian band, Cat Empire, which was completely appropriate for this event in Melbourne and extremely well received.
I had brought a Folk Fest t-shirt on the trip and in the end, gave it to a young artist who is hoping to travel to Canada. Hopefully his wish will come true, and we’ll reconnect at the 2014 Folk Fest.
The conference also organized a cocktail evening for artists and bankers to discuss possible collaborations. See Banking and Art to find out how this event connected these two industries together.
Inspiration and Optimism
After a very full agenda, although we may have felt saturated with information and ideas, we all left inspired and looking forward to the work ahead. Business cards were exchanged and we shared an optimism and a comfort level that we are all working toward a common goal. We are part of a global network that serves the needs and interest of people, their communities and the environment. The momentum continues and we are again rejuvenated to stay true to our mission of being socially responsible and continue to foster self-reliant and sustainable communities. I am so proud to be part of Assiniboine and our commitment to a triple bottom line.
— Kevin Sitka, Assiniboine Credit Union President and CEO.