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Barclays unveils first social review

February 2000

Barclays has become the latest UK high street bank to produce a social report.

The 30-page document, billed by Barclays as ‘the first comprehensive review of our approach to corporate citizenship’, follows hard on the heels of NatWest’s first social impact review and Lloyds TSB’s first community report, both published during the past nine months.

The Barclays report tends to concentrate on summarising past achievements.

However, it says the bank will now begin to devise ‘measuring and evaluation methods’ that will allow it to gauge its ethical performance in the future.

Martin Mosley, customer and community affairs director, said the report was ‘an important start’ for the bank.

‘Our intention is to evaluate our social and environmental performance in a more structured way in future, and we will continue to report publicly on our progress,’ he added.

The report, officially labelled a ‘social review’, is not verified or audited, although it has a page of external views from organizations such as the Charities Aid Foundation, the Employers’ Forum on Disability and the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

It sets out the bank’s record on issues such as responsible lending, anti-debt measures, the environment, community giving and social exclusion, which it says should be tackled with greater support from high street banks for community-based credit unions.

On the closure of branches, which has earned Barclays much recent criticism, the report claims the impact of branch closures in financially deprived areas is always ‘carefully considered.’

However, it adds: ‘we cannot keep open branches that are under-used’.

The chief commitment in the document is a promise to raise health and safety standards via a review of policies and procedures to be carried out with the help of the banking union UNIFI.

The bank, which employs around 75,000 people in more than 60 countries and has over 12 million customers, also says it will alleviate the debt burden of third world nations ‘when countries are demonstrably unable to pay’.

Barclays has already written off $2 billion of developing country debt.

The report states that Barclays will not provide finance for trade in nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, landmines or any equipment that is designed to be used as an instrument of torture.

On equal opportunities, Barclays admits that there is ‘a great deal more to do,’ but says a new strategy being drawn up by its executive equality and diversity steering group will be ‘fully integrated’ into management structures.




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