A cooperative business form and the cooperative ideology add to the continuity and community spirit in OP's operating environment.
OP is strongly committed to its customers and operating environment. Thanks to our long-term knowledge of our local operating environment, we can finance households and companies – even during challenging times. Financing of local businesses is, indeed, one of the key prerequisites of regional prosperity in the long term. OP has a local impact across Finland, since OP Financial Group's branch and service network including some 400 branches is the most extensive and has the best coverage in the country.
OP pursues its mission not only through its business role but also through its social role. This means fostering the livelihood and prosperity of the operating environment as well as support to non-profit organisations, donations and sponsorship. OP cooperative banks can make independent decisions to support, for instance, local cultural life and the physical education of children and young people provided by local sports clubs.
In 2017, 40 cooperative banks around Finland offered a total of over 1,000 summer jobs to young people aged from 15 to 17 in local non-profit organisations. This "Kesäduuni OPn piikkiin" campaign aimed at helping young people gain work experience by offering local non-profit organisations and clubs the opportunity to employ a young person for two weeks while an OP cooperative bank would pay their wages.
In honour of the Finland 100 jubilee year, OP wanted to lower the threshold for participating in voluntary work. Inviting everyone in Finland to do voluntary work together to attain 100 person years of volunteering, OP created a volunteer work exchange site at Hiiop100.fi. During the jubilee year, OP Financial Group’s personnel and administration did over 274 person years of volunteering work together with partners and other people.
In the Taloustaito project for improving young people's financial literacy, OP cooperative banks' and OP Financial Group's employees participate by giving financial skills training to a group of young people reached through youth work. Some bank volunteers also act as personal financial mentors to individual young people. The project coordinated by Helsinki Deaconess Institute aims to reach particularly young people struggling with their personal finance. In 2017, a total of 130 OP employees volunteered in the project.
OP also supported Finnish universities with large-scale donations. During the 2015–2017 donation period, OP cooperative banks and OP Cooperative donated a total of 6.3 million euros to Finnish universities. These donations to universities represent our contribution to safeguard the long-term success of university-level education and research and Finland as a whole.
A large part of OP's economic impacts also involves indirect impacts on local and regional economic vitality. For example, OP is a major employer in many municipalities. At the end of 2017, the Group had 12,269 employees (12,227). Of these, 94 (93) % were permanently employed and 6 (7) per cent were fixed-term employees. Of Group employees, 11,847 were based in Finland, 180 in Estonia, 111 in Latvia, and 131 in Lithuania. OP had a total of 439 (492) summer employees and trainees during 2017.
In several municipalities, OP cooperative banks are among the largest taxpayers, and at Group level, OP is one of the biggest taxpayers in Finland. OP Financial Group's current tax for the financial year 2017 totalled 223 million euros (223).
In 2017, three OP cooperative banks – OP Helsinki, OP Lounaismaa and OP Pohjois-Karjala – conducted surveys measuring the banks' regional and social impacts. The surveys aimed at identifying the key regional impacts of the OP cooperative banks and expressing the operations' impacts using tangible indicators. Based on the survey results, the banks will be able to describe their operations' effectiveness to outsiders, including owner-customers and other stakeholders. These surveys provide banks with a tool they can use to better develop their regional and social effectiveness.