You have asked us this question more than once in social networks. «Agreed, you are a cooperative bank but … how is this visible?». The truth is that the reply is longer than we can give in a tweet or in a Facebook comment so we want to use this space to reply to such an important question.
To begin, we are a credit cooperative which is also a work cooperative , which means we are governed by the basic cooperative principles . As we have said, the International Cooperative Alliance states that «cooperatives are based on values of mutual help, responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. […] Its members believe in the ethical values of honesty, transparency, social responsibility and concern for others».
Credit cooperatives, as with LABORAL Kutxa, emerged to channel common savings and finance new industrial and agricultural cooperatives that generate employment.
An essential characteristic of LABORAL Kutxa is that it is not listed on the Stock Exchange . You notice that we are a cooperative in that we are not subject to the speculative pressure of financial markets. Nor are our management bodies answerable to political institutions. LABORAL Kutxa is governed by a series of democratic bodies, prominent among them being the Board of Directors, responsible for top management, supervision of directors and representing the cooperative. A third of its members comprises a representation of working members who, as such, participate in high level decisions of the entity.
The owner of LABORAL Kutxa are the workers themselves, other cooperatives as well as some private clients. Being “part” of our company means that our priority is to promote the generation of wealth and employment that redounds on the society in which we find ourselves. Our desire is to be a useful bank.
Distribution of profit
As a Cooperative Bank, the values and philosophy that guide us in LABORAL Kutxa prompt us to endorse common interest rather than individual, to taking democratic and responsible decisions and reinvesting our profit into society. It is not a catchphrase, what we are is reflected in the distribution of our profit.
Return to society
In LABORAL Kutxa we are fully committed to local development and we contribute to projects that promote research, culture, sport and the development of our society in general. One of the most important projects and of which we are very proud is Gaztenpresa, a foundation that is dedicated to facilitating the funding, advice and tutoring of new entrepreneurs. Throughout its history, it has contributed to the creation of 3,500 companies that have generated more than 6,800 work posts. Remember that “gazte” (young) refers to the company, not the person who sets it up, so everyone who wants to launch a new business are welcome.
Gaztenpresa embodies, like no other initiative, our raison d’être, but it is not the only thing we do in the area of corporate social responsibility. We also invest in Saiolan (a centre for the promotion of new business activities), we firmly support further education and research (through our aid to Mondragon University and to various research and knowledge centres such as Eusko Ikaskuntza – Sociedad de Estudios Vascos) and we are fully committed to cooperation through various initiatives.
All these activities form part of the cooperative DNA of LABORAL Kutxa. But they are not the only ones. If you wish, you can visit our corporate web page to see what we do in sport, culture, society and research and how we put the money at the service of people.
Workers, partners and protagonists
Another key aspect of the way we are is that the workers in LABORAL Kutxa are, in the majority, members of the entity (and therefore owners, together with some clients and other cooperatives) and participate in the key decisions, which are validated in the General Assembly, democratically. Indeed, as workers-members, we promote participation and autonomy in the work. We have a balanced salary policy, with retribution in accordance with the responsibilities of each post. One example, the person who earns the most receives a retribution which in no circumstance exceeds 4.2 times the average salary of the rest of the members in the financial entity; while among the 500 most important companies in the USA this rate is 1:380 (in other words, whoever earns most, receives 380 times more than the average employee in the company).
Our management is democratic and responsible. In addition to being members we are professionals and specialists in banking and insurance, and we prioritise the quality of service to clients.
Men and women equal in rights and opportunities
Cooperative values imply equality of opportunities between all persons and tor this reason we especially promote gender equality . In this sense, in 1997 we were the first company to obtain the certification of “Entity Collaborating with Emakunde”.
With all these mechanisms and the particular attention as a cooperative to the professional development of our working members, we want to ensure total involvement and outstanding service with a dual objective: to satisfy our clients and manage the entity efficiently and responsibly, to reinvest profits in society.
Basque, another of our priorities
We communicate with you in Basque, this is your right and our commitment. In the end, the right to communicate in Basque is no different from that of any other: it requires the respect of others, their efforts, willingness and cooperation, in addition to that of financial entities and of course our own. Our clients have the right to be attended in Basque in branch offices, by Telebanka or On-line Banka. We also promote Basque as the working language between our partners and workers-members.
And all this, why?
All these peculiarities which differentiate us from a conventional bank or savings bank have one reason. The people who comprise LABORAL Kutxa are members, not salaried employees in an alienated project. For this reason, we are implicated in offering the best service to our clients. Your satisfaction is intimately linked to our work posts and to fulfilling our mandate: undertake banking activities whose profits (tangible and intangible) redound in many ways on the society we come from.
We want you to try it for yourself. And tell us if you believe we can improve in any area. It will be the best way you can help us. Thank you for trusting in the people who comprise LABORAL Kutxa.