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Starling’s approach to responsible banking

We’re immensely proud to be working with Starling Bank to champion and celebrate the UK’s entrepreneurs. And we’re just as proud of the work it is doing surrounding responsible banking.

Starling recently reiterated its mission to do things right and we wanted to share their message, outlining some of the fantastic things it’s doing.

At Starling, we’re on a mission to change banking for good. That means building a banking app that makes money management easier. And it also means being a responsible business that does the right thing.

As a responsible bank, we’ve taken bold steps to put our people, customers and community at the centre of everything we do. We’ve set out the values and principles we believe in at Starling in our ethics statement. Starling was founded in 2014 and the app was launched in 2017 – we’re proud of the work we’ve done already, but we know there’s still progress to make. 

Our people

Our people are what make Starling who we are. We’re committed to treating our employees fairly and to making sure that Starling continues to be a place where people want to work. We’re also one of the top 25 startups to work for according to LinkedIn. That’s why we’re proud to be a Living Wage Employer. That means that we’re committed to paying our employees a wage that meets the costs of living, not just the government minimum.

We recognise that gender equality has been an issue in technology and banking for years. To show our commitment to this, in 2017 we signed up to the Women in Finance Charter and have been making strides to achieve better balance in gender equality. We set ourselves an ambitious goal for 40% of our senior management to be female by 2021 and we’re happy to say that we’ve already achieved this target.

We analyse our job adverts for signs of bias and offer flexible working opportunities, which is often a barrier in gender inequalities. We’re also committed to inclusivity, and recognise the contribution the LGBTQ+ community makes to our company. We want our teams to be as diverse and strong as possible.

We’re the first UK bank founded by a woman. Half of the Starling executive committee and a third of our board are women. But gender is only part of the picture. We embrace diversity in all its forms.

Take race. The anti-racism protests of 2020 have reminded everyone that we need to work harder on racial diversity. That work is well underway as we find new pathways to promote existing employees and attract new talent, partly through the relationships we’ve developed with recruiters that focus on black candidates. With a predominantly white leadership team, we acknowledge that we’ve a long way to go, but we’re embracing this with energy.

When the coronavirus crisis hit and many of our staff moved to working from home, we opened up our virtual Never Home Alone programme. This is a place where we can help each other by sharing ideas on how we can look after ourselves. Everything from tips on physical and mental wellbeing, to ideas on nutrition or even where to find online learning resources for children.

Our customers

As a digital company, we’re always looking at ways to harness the power of technology to help our customers.

In 2018, Starling became the first British bank to introduce a Gambling Block, a feature in our app that gives our customers even more control over how and where they spend their money. We worked with charities and customers to build the block and it was even recently backed by a committee in the House of Lords.

As a direct response to the coronavirus emergency, we launched our Connected card to help vulnerable customers during lockdown, particularly those in self-isolation. It’s one of only two selected by the Royal Voluntary Society to provide payment cards to NHS Volunteer Responders and it’s also been endorsed by the charity Scope.

We’re also doing our part to help our customers stay safe and protect them against fraud and scams. Fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated and has a devastating impact on far too many people.

That’s why we’re among the first signatories of an industry code set up to minimise the number of Authorised Push Payment (APP) scams, which is where someone tricks you into making a payment you believe is genuine, but the account that you pay actually belongs to the fraudster. In fact, we’re the only digital bank to sign up to the Code.

We’ve introduced Confirmation of Payee, which is a new way of checking account details to give customers and businesses greater assurance that they’re sending payments to the right person. And we support the national Take Five initiative, the government-backed fraud awareness campaign.

We also have a dedicated vulnerable customer service team and signpost to the mental health charities, Samaritans and Mind, as well as to debt counselling organisations, such as Step Change, the Money Advice Trust and the Debt Advice Foundation

Our community

A big part of being a responsible business means supporting communities where we live and work, and helping to look after the environment.

We support employee volunteering; every Starling employee receives 16 hours of paid leave per year to volunteer or support good causes that are close to their hearts. It’s just one way that we can make a positive difference in the community.

We also want to do our bit to tackle some of the bigger challenges in society, such as climate change.

As we continue to grow, we’re conscious of our responsibility to make that growth sustainable. At the moment, we’re turning our attention to carbon emissions and setting a long-term ambition to take a leading position amongst other fintechs as a net-zero business. This means taking steps to reduce our carbon emissions, and for the emissions we can’t change immediately we are thinking differently to reduce the impact in other ways, whilst still working hard to make permanent changes to be a low carbon bank.

This is a big task and we’re just starting out on this journey. As a paperless, branchless bank hosted in the cloud, we already have a smaller carbon footprint than many high street banks. We’re using 100% renewable energy in all of our offices and our main cloud service provider is carbon neutral. We don’t invest in or take investment from any fossil-fuel based energy companies.

In 2020, we launched our refer a friend scheme with Trillion Trees, a joint venture between three of the world’s largest conservation organisations – BirdLife International, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF, that aims to save, re-grow and protect one trillion trees by 2050. Every time you refer a friend who opens an account, we plant a tree to say thank you.

To get the green ball rolling, we’ve made a one-off donation to Trillion Trees for 2014 trees to be planted. Why 2014? It’s the year Starling first began – when we planted our very first seed.

Our partnership will enable us to make a permanent positive change to the planet and help us grow sustainably. It’s just one of the ways we’re building a bank doesn’t cost the Earth.

What next?

We know that our mission to change banking for good will not happen overnight, but we’re committed to doing more and playing our part. As we continue to grow you’ll be hearing much more from us.

Starling Bank will make a donation to WWF-UK, a registered charity with charity registration number 1081247 in England and Wales and SC039593 in Scotland, of £3 for each bank account, which is successfully opened with Starling Bank as a result of a referral under this scheme.