Is it possible to do good work and good business?

Shopping trolly, retail, supermarket, food

I am delighted to post this topical blog by my colleague Robert Nieri.

Corporate social responsibility combined with efficient business practices – can they really go together? Well let’s use the Coop as way to examine this questions.

Unless you’ve been up in space with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney for the last few weeks you’ll know that The Co-op Bank has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Having its ethical character questioned due to the proposed rescue by American hedge funds and now with the hullabaloo over its former Chairman with the possibility that they will be stripped of the right to use the Co-operative name as a result.

In response to the doom-mongers and nay-sayers who may claim that the cooperative spirit is gone forever I say “think again”. For a start the success of the wider Co-operative Group and the cooperative movement around the world is obvious.

Whilst it’s true that hard-headed American businessmen are buying into The Co-op Bank to make money are they really going to be the architects of the destruction of a valuable brand built up over more than 140 years? No very much doubt it.

Take a trip down to the Irwell in the next six months to The People’s History Museum to see the exhibition celebrating 150 of The Co-operative and how “The People’s Business” has historically provided services to support people from the cradle to the grave.

An outdated concept in time of austerity and less government support? Is protecting the environment, consumer rights and fair trade really passé? Hardly.

This has clearly been an annus horribilis for The Cooperative Bank but it will look to get back on track, without the need for a taxpayers’ bailout, in the spirit of self-reliance of the original Rochdale Pioneers.

And looking up at the skyline over Angel Square at the new headquarters of The Co-operative Group, let’s celebrate what is officially the most environmentally friendly building in the world and look forward to the continued redevelopment of the area.

So is it possible to do good work and good business? Of course it has and 150 years of cooperative history stand as testament to that belief.

Maybe even George Clooney is looking down and smiling…

Robert Nieri H&S smallRobert Nieri

Senior Associate

If you have any queries regarding this post please do not hesitate to contact Robert at


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