Auckland – Kiwibank’s new responsible banking policy includes a number of businesses that it would not do business with.
This included places such as brothels and strip clubs which the bank put in the same category as fossil fuels, military and nuclear weapons and palm oil companies.
However, Kiwibank has stepped back from an outright ban on doing business with brothels and strip clubs following an industry backlash, entrepreneur Sir Ray Avery says.
“The bank has since dropped the ban on the sex industry, although it still regards it as a sensitive sector with high potential for harm.
“The Prostitutes’ Collective says that retraction doesn’t go far enough and brothels should not be grouped with industries deemed harmful.
“So does Kiwibank have a deep intrinsic culture of prompting the health and wellbeing of our people and our planet? Have they conducted deep due diligence on the companies most likely to cause harm or is this just naïve marketing-speak?
“It’s easy to ban the bad boy clusters such as military grade weapons and munitions, nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices, anti-personnel mines and landmines. Also, depleted uranium weapons, chemical and biological weapons and componentry intended for use in military grade weapons manufactures.
“The last time I checked there were no companies in New Zealand manufacturing these products.
“If Kiwibank really has a commitment to responsible business practices then perhaps they should have done more research regarding industries in New Zealand which actually do cause incremental damage to our people and our planet.
This could include some sectors of the multibillion dollar fashion clothing industry, toy manufacturing industries which are the precursor to modern slavery ,child labour and preventable occupational health and safety deaths.
“Fashion is one of five industries implicated in modern slavery according to international advocacy organisations which cites coffee, banana, cotton and tea production as major industries promoting slavery and child labour.
“An ABC television investigation has uncovered Target and H&M were among the brands sourcing cotton from China’s troubled Xinjiang province, where detained Muslim Uyghurs are reportedly forced to work in textile factories.
“The International Labour Organisation values profits from slavery at $150 billion a year, making it more fruitful than the Apple company.
“Essentially, these victims are part of the reason why we can walk into our clothing retailers and snag a great deal on a pair of jeans and feel economically satisfied.
“So does Kiwibank really have a culture of not supporting businesses that cause harm to us and our planet?
“Well the answer is in their caveat with respect to the tobacco industry which is named as one of the industries they will be withholding banking services to but which has a clarifying clause: people who work for these businesses can still bank with us.
“So if you are a pimp selling life threatening tobacco products you can still bank with Kiwibank but your company can’t,” Sir Ray says.
Kiwibank is 100 percent New Zealand owned. Its parent company, Kiwi Group Holdings (KGH), is owned by New Zealand Post (which holds a 53 percent stake), the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (25 percent) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (22 percent.
For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188