Equitable Bank Standards
Bank standards for the common good
Developed in partnership with social impact bankers, finance experts, economic justice advocates, and academic researchers, the Equitable Bank Standards are a work in—and for—progress.
How were the standards developed?
A project of Beneficial State Foundation, the standards are the work of dedicated individuals both within the Beneficial State family and at partner organizations. These standards have been developed over time through an iterative research and feedback process.
Stakeholders including financial industry experts, values-based banking associations, subject matter experts in academia, policy advocates, technical standards-setting experts, racial equity experts, and financial justice activists provided critical input to the standards. Our partner bank, Beneficial State Bank, also provided key insights.
Improving over time
The standards are designed to encourage performance improvement over time. Banks that use them will set requirements, targets, benchmarks, and outcomes aimed at continual advancement. The Equitable Bank Standards do not describe specific banks. Instead, they are split into three levels, each describing a set of behaviors or practices:
Level 1: Essential equitable practices
Represents standards for operating ethically and with the goal to minimize negative impacts for all stakeholders, including customers, community, and the environment.
A great place for banks to start—with practices that should be achievable within 1-2 years of consideration.
Level 2: Emerging equitable practices
Represents standards that are further along the equitable banking journey of trying to avoid harm while proactively seeking a positive impact for all people and the planet.
Level 3: Industry-leading equitable practices
Represents industry-leading standards and best practices toward generating substantial positive impact.
Work in progress
The Equitable Bank Standards project is grounded in years of social impact finance and standard-setting sustainability work at Beneficial State Foundation. The standards are a critical part of a larger ecosystem of banking industry changemakers.
The Equitable Bank Standards are:
- A long-term undertaking that is aspirational.
- A collaborative and shared resource that provides a measurable pathway for all banks to achieve social and environmental impact.
- A robust and evolving, industry- and community-validated reference and resource for bank changemakers to draw upon.
- A work-in-progress; a living resource that will continue to be improved over time.
The Equitable Bank Standards are an important example of the collaborative field-building work we will continue to undertake. As an advocate, field builder, and bank owner, Beneficial State Foundation brings together stakeholders to work out problems, experiment on solutions, and improve banking industry standards that we hope are one day adopted industry-wide.
We seek this future state while recognizing that no bank yet meets all the highest level standards, including our own Beneficial State Bank. Our collective work is to support institutions to continually progress on their path toward truly equitable banking.
The standards will be launched soon; we invite you to join in their development and testing. Contact us to get involved!
A tremendous thank you to those who provided critical feedback to inform this initiative:
- Amy Traub, Demos
- Anat Admati, Stanford University
- Adriana Kocornik-Mina, Global Alliance for Banking on Values
- Daniel Brett, Pacific Community Ventures
- David Korslund, an alum of Global Alliance for Banking on Values
- David Rothstein, Cities for Empowerment Fund
- Esther Park, Cienega Capital
- Leah Fremouw, Virginia Community Capital
- Libba McKinney, Virginia Community Capital
- Lily Steponaitis, Self-Help Federal Credit Union
- Lena Robinson, First Republic Bank
- Megan Hryndza, Mighty Deposits
- Nick Weiner, Communications Workers of America and Committee for Better Banking
- Peter Smith, Center for Responsible Lending
- Reed Mayfield, RSF Finance
- Tom Bregman Future-Fit Business
- Viola Mai, Self-Help Federal Credit Union
The final content of the standards does not necessarily reflect all feedback provided.