From 18-20 April, the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) 14th Annual Meeting gathered over 200 members and supporting partners in New York, a record for the GABV. One of the United States’ largest and front-running values-based banks hosted the meeting, Amalgamated Bank, which also celebrated its 100th Anniversary.
The theme of the 2023 GABV Annual Meeting was ‘Banking on a Bolder Future’. In recent years social and environmental challenges have increased, demanding brave and sustained efforts to address them. Values-based banks have a particularly important role to play, spearheading positive change in the banking system and delivering impact for millions of people globally. The annual meeting programme highlighted these challenges and how we can collectively address them using our collective voice, resources and finance tools.
Inaugural session with Chelsea Clinton
The first day of the meeting kicked off with a lively conversation between Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation and Laurie Spengler, CEO, Courageous Capital Advisors, exploring the role of banks and partnerships in times of disruption. “(We need) boldness to create impact and humility to recognise we do not know everything. We need to partner with others to address problems and bring solutions from a holistic perspective,” said Chelsea Clinton.
We were joined later by Educator, Advocate and Author of ‘The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together’, Heather McGhee, who discussed the role of public policy in building a just world. “We are at a level of awareness and consciousness about racial-based problems and racial inequality, and we are in the process of finding solutions,” she explained.
A Day of Learning and Celebration
The second day of the meeting highlighted the groundbreaking work financed by Amalgamated Bank, as well as a visit to new GABV member Spring Bank and an innovative client. Participants visited these clients and partners through specially curated learning journeys.
These are the stories behind the learning journeys:
- Criminal Justice: This visit highlighted work to address and counteract the impact on the harmed, families and communities when a person is incarcerated. A visit to an initiative using art as an outlet for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people completed the learning journey.
- Youth and Community: Participants learned how early engagement of marginalized youth can lead to future success and financial wellbeing.
- Strengthening vulnerable neighbourhoods: This learning journey focused on how to retain neighbourhood diversity in the face of gentrification.
- Environmental Racism and Justice: Participants explored creative ways to address climate change, develop climate resilience and deliver climate justice for vulnerable low-income communities.
- Raising the Wage: Participants engaged in a discussion about the most direct way to fight income inequality through higher wages.
- Community Banking and Open Hiring: Organized and hosted by new, New York-based GABV member, Spring Bank, this learning journey included a trip to their headquarters in the South Bronx and a tour of the bakery that pioneered the Open Hiring model.
The day ended with over 400 people, including Amalgamated Bank’s clients, stakeholders and GABV members coming together to celebrate Amalgamated Bank’s Centennial.
The Annual General Meeting
The last day of the GABV Annual Meeting included insights from keynote speaker Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, who discussed the importance of equity in the workforce. “The idea that we can see economic growth but not improvements in poverty and unemployment rates is a moral question for world leaders,“ said Marc Morial.
The Annual General Meeting followed, including appointments, retirements and renewals of the GABV Board. Damien Walsh, CEO of Bank Australia, and Ugo Biggeri, President of Etica SGR, stepped down as they have reached the end of their tenure. Their successors will be Maria Flock Åhlander, CEO of Ekobanken, as the new GABV’s European Board member and Mirela Pekmezi, CEO of FINCA DRC, as the GABV’s at large Board member. Fabian Kasi, CEO of Centenary Bank in Uganda, was re-appointed for a second term as Board member for Africa.
The passing of the Talking Stick
The GABV Annual Meeting concluded with the GABV tradition of passing the Talking Stick from this year’s host to the next, a practice introduced at the 2012 GABV Annual Meeting in Vancouver, hosted by Vancity. The talking stick is a tool of indigenous democracy used by many tribes of the Northwest Coast in North America. The talking stick is passed around the group and allows for many voices to be heard in turn.
Amalgamated Bank’s CEO, Priscilla Sims-Brown, passed the Talking Stick to Dario Brollo, of Banca Etica in Italy, who will host our next meeting in Padua and Milan in February 2024.