July 26, 2004

Citizens Bank releases first Accountability Report

The 2003 Accountability Report released this month by the Vancouver-based Citizens Bank of Canada marks the first time the bank's social, environmental and financial performance results have been brought together in one, externally-audited report. The bank has published two previous reports (in 1999 and 2001) detailing compliance with its Ethical Policy.

The report reviews the bank's performance not only in economic terms, but also its marketplace, workplace, environmental and community impacts. It examines Citizens Bank's environmental impacts in terms, for example, of transit and paper usage by employees, and reviews the bank's screening process for investments and business relationships. Included as well are member and employee impressions of the bank's business conduct and employee relations and a list of contributions to communities and not-for-profit organizations in Canada.

As part of its paper use reduction effort, the report has been published on-line only, in both html and a downloadable pdf version. By doing so, the bank estimates that it has saved 3,059 pounds of solid waste, 61 million BTUs of energy and 11,291 litres of effluent, in addition to preventing the production of 10,179 pounds of greenhouse gases. Paper usage per employee in 2003 was 58% less than in 2001, says the report.

As Citizens is a virtual bank, it offers its members 24-hour, seven-days-a-week service through the Internet and telephone. The bank's 361 employees, however, tend to make environmentally friendly transportation choices to get to and from work, with 54% reporting that they use public transit, a slight increase over 2001.

The report notes that one of the bank's largest offices is located directly on the SkyTrain line stop in Vancouver, which encourages employees' use of public transit, but employees choose to take public transit on their own accord. To support this choice, the bank offers a transit pass discount plan; 62 employees took advantage of this plan in 2003. Citizens Bank also participates in the annual Commuter Challenge awareness day.

Through its Shared Interest(tm) program, the bank helps other organizations tackle environmental problems. Each year, it supports two charities working to preserve and protect the environment. In 2003, it contributed a total of $133,375 to the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP), which works to minimize bird deaths in cities by promoting dimming of office building lighting at night; and the Evergreen Foundation, which has a mandate to bring nature to the cities through naturalization projects. In addition, through its VISA affinity card, the bank donated $23,000 to Oxfam and Amnesty International.

"Our Accountability Report illustrates a broader vision of corporate social responsibility that goes beyond both traditional financial reporting to address the triple bottom line," said Citizens Bank president and CEO Ian Warner.

As a roadmap for the future, the report outlines new marketplace, workplace, environment and community commitments for the bank to report on in 2005. "The new commitments add a heightened level of consciousness to our business planning," Warner added. "It's not enough for us to mean well, by producing an Accountability Report, we're going beyond good intentions by publishing our promises and seeing them through to action," he said.

Citizens Bank, which is wholly owned by VanCity Savings Credit Union, says it is the only bank in Canada with an Ethical Policy publicly stating its position on eight key social and environmental issues. Its members have ranked human rights, the environment and sustainable energy as the top three Ethical Policy issue areas of greatest importance.

The report may be viewed on the Citizens Bank Web site, www.citizensbank.ca/ethical. More information is also available from Jody Anderson, the bank's director of marketing and corporate social responsibility, 604/708-7796, E-mail jody_anderson@citizensbank.ca.

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