The Co-operative Bank

The Co-operative Bank’s diversity values

A desire to do better

Candidates and companies are demanding greater diversity and fairer hiring – those that manage to achieve this outperform the competition. However, many talent leaders are unable to turn ideals into meaningful action. Yet some organizations have been pioneering DE&I practices in hiring for decades.

The Co-operative Bank is the world’s first, and only UK high street bank, with a customer-led ethical policy. The bank does not provide banking services to organizations that conflict with customers’ views on a comprehensive range of issues, for example: human rights, environmental stability, international development and animal welfare.

The Co-operative Bank has a diverse customer base and wanted to better mirror the people they serve. They were experiencing the problem of candidates applying for anything and everything after the disruption to jobs caused by COVID-19. The business needed an efficient way to manage this, as well as getting more diverse and high-quality candidates into the funnel.

Hiring managers had to go through regular training to try and mitigate unconscious bias – but the business had aspirations to re-imagine the process and make hiring more inclusive and effective.

The business case for change

Previously, we had an RPO in place but brought recruitment back in-house in 2020. Historically, the hiring process followed a traditional model of resume screening, telephone calls, and regular in-person assessment dates where large cohorts of candidates were brought into the offices to go through individual and group exercises. This was very logistically-challenging and resource-heavy for our recruitment teams.

Richard Matthews,

Head of Talent and Resourcing, The Co-operative Bank

So the organization created a business case to address a number of key areas and to look for new tech solutions to help them realize their hiring goals. The business case set out to:

  1. Assess as many candidates as possible in a fair, consistent and open way – improving diversity, removing any opportunities for bias, and allowing candidates to bring their best selves to the recruitment process.
  2. Streamlining the process and removing the logistical impact on the recruitment team of large assessment days.
  3. Reduce time to hire.
  4. Continue to deliver a best in class candidate experience.

HireVue was launched just before COVID hit the UK and its businesses – and one week before the first UK lockdown in March 2020. Mainly implemented in the contact center, The Co-operative Bank implemented HireVue’s video interviewing, assessment and gamification solutions based on key customer service competencies. This allowed the organization to assess candidates based on job-relevant skills – and not to screen them simply using resumes.

Making DE&I goals a reality

The team at The Co-operative Bank saw an impact straightaway. With new hire numbers 93% over the forecast for 2021 – driven by COVID and increased contact center demand – HireVue delivered a significant time and efficiency benefit for the recruiters. They can now assess a large number of candidates quickly and fairly due to not needing to organize in-person assessment days.

From a DE&I perspective, this means The Co-operative Bank can now hire from a larger, more diverse area than that close to their offices. This helps them bring their values of inclusivity to life and improve social mobility by hiring in areas where there may not be a large employer, and career opportunities are limited.

By using virtual interviewing and assessments, it also means that candidates can be engaged wherever they are and at a time that suits them, they no longer need to take time off work and potentially lose money. The Co-operative Bank can now provide greater flexibility throughout their hiring process. From a financial perspective, when there is a spike in hiring, the new online process means that technology can help the business to flex and accommodate this without needing to add headcount to the team.

There were concerns that using hiring technology would adversely impact older candidates but this has proven not to be the case, with candidate satisfaction scores being 90% and candidates reporting an overwhelmingly positive experience. By using technology and a structured and scientific approach to hiring, it has helped hiring managers to validate their decisions and be more comfortable – particularly around candidates they did not progress to the interview stage.

One of the biggest benefits that the business saw was around reducing unconscious bias. HireVue has helped reduce bias by 90% from the hiring process, which has contributed to achieving a 50 / 50 hiring split for gender across all levels of the business so far in 2021. Previously, this was 70 / 30 and male dominated. The Executive Committee is now also very diverse with a 50 / 50 gender split. This really helps other people in the business aspire to be what they can see”.

Richard Matthews,

Head of Talent and Resourcing, The Co-operative Bank

So what’s next for The Co-operative Bank? There is a big focus around measurement and being data-driven. Having just taken baseline measurements on key metrics and benchmarked these against industry averages, they have now set an ambitious first set of targets. Social mobility is another key area, the business is investing heavily in its working-from-home technology set-up, allowing employees to be less tied to a location and giving their staff the flexibility that the modern workforce is demanding.

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Quick Facts


Financial Services


Reduction in bias


Gender hiring split


Candidate CSAT score