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For the past 13 years, ING DIRECT has quietly made the bicycle a pillar of its values-based approach toward lifestyle and sustainability.
For the past 13 years, ING DIRECT has quietly made the bicycle a pillar of its values-based approach toward lifestyle and sustainability. The recent recipient of bike-friendly business awards in both Toronto, ON, and Vancouver, BC, ING DIRECT’s innovative approach to bikes and banking has been capturing attention across Canada.
In Canada, ING DIRECT operates a number of “cafés” in major urban centers, a concept that flips preconceived notions about banks on their head. The Vancouver location features a coffee station, computers, comfortable furniture, an exercise ball (in case you have a sudden urge to activate your core), and a living green wall by local design firm Green over Grey. For ING DIRECT, these cafés provide a combination of brand presence and an innovative forum for community engagement.
Everyone who works with ING DIRECT is supplied with a brand-new, locally built bicycle when they are hired. And, as if that’s not cool enough, the company also picks up the tab for employees’ bike maintenance. Additionally, each location is equipped with a fleet of bikes that can be used for quick trips to meetings downtown or borrowed for the evening. Patrons who arrive by bike are welcomed with open arms, offered safe and secure bike parking, and even offered special promotions. When it comes to bicycles, ING DIRECT means business.
According to Paul Sluimers, ING DIRECT’s Vancouver- based communications coordinator, the response has been tremendous, both online and off. “As word gets out there, we see more and more people bringing their bikes into the café. We’re located next to several biking lanes, so it’s super easy to commute here. It creates a great connection and makes people feel very welcomed.”
It also makes working life a breeze. Meena Sandhu, ING DIRECT’s Western Canadian marketing strategist adds, “It’s a great benefit that gives us more options. I appreciate that we have the liberty and opportunity to spearhead such initiatives on a local level and choose to be a bike-friendly business.”
ING DIRECT’s downtown Vancouver location hosts over 200 events a year, including networking nights, sustainability workshops, and HUB’s (Vancouver’s cycling coalition) StreetWise program. At a recent event held at their Vancouver location, the company’s CEO, Peter Aceto, mingled with a boisterous crowd consisting of some of Vancouver’s smartest and most engaged influencers, entrepreneurs, and young professionals.
At ING DIRECT bicycling isn’t just a lifestyle, it is good business. This concept, imported from the company’s bike-obsessed home in the Netherlands, has growing acceptance in North America. ING DIRECT was recently acquired by Scotiabank in Canada in 2012 and Capital One in the United States in 2011. As Sluimers notes, “Biking is a part of our view on sustainability, but it’s about more than reducing our environmental impact. We believe having a bike-friendly city will be good for business, ours and others’, for people and for the city itself.”
When not pedaling East Vancouver on his path racer, Stephen Irving is a social media and communications strategist passionate about sustainable transportation, Canadian politics, and post-punk. @stephenirving