“Scandal after scandal – corporate greed and the worst excesses of capitalism are rife. Businesses acting in their own self-interest, customers’ needs coming last…How many of us are sick of hearing the same headlines over and over again?” asks Lucy Findlay, MD of Social Enterprise Mark in her prescient contribution to The Guardian’s 50 Voices project.
Unfortunately the above quote was published the same day it was revealed that there’s going to be not one, but three separate inquiries in to what is going on at The Cooperative Bank, which has become mired in ‘scandal after scandal’.
Following recent concerns over the £1.5bn hole in its finances, former Chair of the Bank Rev Paul Flowers further dragged its name through the mud after being filmed buying coke (not the fizzy variety). This scandal then prompted the Chair of the Cooperative Group to resign , as well as speculation that the Co-op Group is too cosy to the Labour party. Labour owes the Co-op around £1.4m, whilst it was revealed its political wing, The Co-op Party, found £50,000 down the back of the sofa and handed it over in an envelope marked ‘Ed Balls’. Read more about the whole thing here.
While my previous post suggested the social economy needed to get more badass, this is not what I had in mind. Other than being great for gossips, the whole affair has undermined both the bank’s chances of a full recovery and the wider cooperative and mutual movements credibility. And the problem is not just in the UK, as one of the businesses comprising the Spanish cooperative giant Mondragon is about to go bust too.
And all of this happening during Global Entrepreneurship Week, where the message should have been ‘there’s another way of doing business’. Actually, despite these setbacks that was still the message. There’s been far too many things going on this week to report, but there were two particularly attractive announcements that caught my eye (and by attractive I mean if you live in London and/or use social media. Otherwise, probably not so useful):
- a large scale advertising campaign from BITC to blitz 100 tube stations (pun intended), encouraging the public to buy social, and;
- a nifty new animation from Social Enterprise UK, encouraging the public to join the ‘Buy Social’ revolution.
Finally, Swiss insurance giant Zurich this week provided a free guide for charities and social enterprises on how to deal with major incidences. Someone should forward a copy to the Co-op! I think the address is 1 Way Down, Endofthe Road, Rochdale.