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Citizenship and Society

Background and Context

What we heard

A key finding in our original research was a sense from respondents that banks have a critical role to play in supporting communities and society as a whole and that the sector did not always fulfil this role well. This was particularly felt in rural Ireland and by customers who may be in a vulnerable position. The IBCB undertook qualitative research in 2020 to better understand the needs and wants of people in accessing and utilising banking services. In doing so, it sought the views of organisations that support marginalised and vulnerable groups who experience difficulties accessing banking products.

IBCB member banks recognise their unique role in society and each of our member banks has established programmes focussing on how best to fulfil this role and contribute to local communities and wider society in which they operate. Given the importance of this issue to the IBCB’s purpose, we established Citizenship and Society as our 3rd core pillar of activity.

The key areas of focus in this pillar are:

  • Access to the basic bank account. This is seen as an enabler for those in financial difficulty as well as marginalised groups who may experience financial exclusion.
  • Customers living with a disability: specifically, those with cognitive difficulties, with the aim of improving awareness and accessibility.
  • Customers for whom English is not their first language, whereby it can be difficult to ascertain customers’ awareness of financial products, particularly when making major financial decisions.

Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter

The IBCB is proud to support Ireland’s Women in Finance Charter. The Charter underpins the financial services industry’s ambition to see increased participation of women at all levels, including junior, middle, and senior management, leadership and board roles within financial services organisations based in Ireland.  We know that more diverse and inclusive workforces lead to diversity of thought and better decision-making in organisations.  The IBCB’s 2021 Éist survey of bank culture highlights perspectives from bank staff on equal opportunities in the industry. Women make up a higher proportion of junior grades and a lower proportion of senior grades. This is reflective of the global financial services sector but fostering and developing the careers of women in the banking industry will help recruit and retain talented staff and will contribute to a more inclusive and diverse industry, benefiting organisations and wider business community and society as a whole.

For more information on the charter, click

United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking

United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking

The IBCB is proud to endorse the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking. These Principles provide a framework to ensure that the strategies and business practices of Banks align with UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. Signatory banks commit to embedding the Principles in their business and to carry out impact assessments, developing specific commitments, setting targets, and reporting on these targets.

We believe the UN Principles are an important commitment from the banking sector to promote an environment where ethical behaviour is at the heart of banking. The Principles are closely aligned to the purpose of the IBCB; to work with member banks to build trustworthiness in order to assist the industry in regaining public trust.

Central to the UN Principles is a focus on sustainable banking practices which consider the needs of society and customers, to engage proactively and responsibly with stakeholders, to ensure transparency, accountability, effective governance, and a culture of responsible banking. The six UN Principles for Responsible Banking are:

  • Alignment;
  • Impact and target setting;
  • Clients & customers;
  • Stakeholders;
  • Governance & culture;
  • Transparency & accountability

Further information on the UNEP Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking is available at


The IBCB responded to the Decision Support Service consultation on the Code of Practice for Finance Professionals for the Assisted Decision-Making Act (ADMA) and to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth on the General Scheme of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) (Amendment) Bill 2021. We look forward to the launch of the ADMA and the Decision Support Service, which will enable some customers to manage their own finances or to avail of specific supports to help them manage finances.


The IBCB commissioned independent research through Gibney Communications to better understand the views and banking needs of specific cohorts in society, to inform our next steps in contributing to delivering positive banking change for communities and societies in Ireland.

The research project aimed to gather the views of bank branch staff and customers based in rural communities, key stakeholders and advocacy groups representing those in rural/ farming communities, those living with disabilities, SMEs, those in vulnerable positions and marginalised groups, through qualitative interviews, focus groups and some limited desk research.

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