The International Co-operative Alliance i define a co-operative as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise (Manchester, 1995). Their origins can be traced back to 1844, when harsh living conditions and inadequate consumer protection inspired 28 working men to develop a new approach to the supply of food and other goods, by setting up the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society. There are more than 760 million individual co-operators worldwide. Co-operatives are involved in everything from food production and retailing to banking, insurance, travel, housing, health, education and leisure. In order that they remain viable and relevant in the future, it is essential that co-operatives review all aspects of their business from time to time. However, the values inherited from previous generations of co-operators are still highly applicable today; not least the belief that business has a purpose beyond profit. Like the rest of the Co-operative Group, CIS and the bank are conscious of their responsibilities to past and future generations of co-operators, and strive to keep alive the values passed down.
In 1999, the General Assembly of Euro Coop accepted a report from its Social Reporting Working Party. This proposed a basket of indicators based around the seven Co-operative Principles, and designed to capture and articulate the 'co-operative difference'.ii CFS reports in relation to principles five through seven. Principles one through four relate to membership and autonomy, and these are not open at the level of CIS and the bank, only at the level of the Co-operative Group.
Aspects of CFS' performance of primary interest to the Co-operative movement:
Education, training and Information (5th Principle) - Details of 'Influence and action' run throughout the Report, whilst staff satisfaction with personal development and knowledge of co-operative culture is detailed here.
Co-operation among co-operatives (6th Principle) - Product and service developments in connection with the Co-operative movement are described here, along with collaborative ventures and support for co-operatives.
Concern for community (7th Principle) - CFS' community investment and the impact on society are detailed here.
Assurance on the data and commentary detailed within this Report is provided by justassurance, in accordance with the AA1000 Assurance Standard. Follow this link for the auditors' assurance statement