Barclays plc: Socially Responsible Corporate Behaviour

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Barclays plc: Socially Responsible Corporate Behaviour

How does Barclays plc fulfil its obligations to their

stakeholders in terms of ethical business practice and socially

responsible corporate behaviour?

According to The Institute of Business Ethics (cited in MORI, 2003),

“80% of the public believe that large companies have a moral

responsibility to society but 61% also thought large companies don’t

care”. Why this shocking conclusion? Due to major accounting scandals

such as Enron and WorldCom the public’s confidence in organisations

have decreased. Why is there now an increasing demand for

organisations to behave ethically and responsibly? Ethics is seen as

‘… a system of morals or rules of behaviour’ (Mullins 1999) meanwhile

the definition of corporate responsibility taken from Sims (2004)

states that’… business behaviour that is likely to engender the trust

and commitment of stakeholders towards the company.’ Changes in

people’s values and beliefs have also led to this demand. Yet, to what

extent are organisations responding to the changing needs of society?

For this analysis, the focus of this issue will be centred on Barclays

plc and whether this company is fulfilling its ethical and socially

responsible behaviour towards its stakeholders. In order to ascertain

the effectiveness of these policies and validity of their claims, many

different sources will have to be taken into consideration. As stated

by MORI (2003) Barclays is ‘… an international financial services

group engaged primarily in banking, investment and asset management.

It is one of the largest financial services group, operating in nearly

70 countries and employing 74,800 people.’ How is Barclays able to

satisfy its various stakeholders, considering its vast operations and

the intense scrutiny the financial sector has come under?

Stakeholders are ‘… individuals or groups who are affected by the

goals, operations or activities of the organisation (Mullins, 1999).

Who are Barclay’s stakeholders and what influence do they have?

Barclay’s key stakeholders are their employees, customers,

shareholders and the communities in which they operate. Below is a

table adapted from Sims (2003, p41) showing what stakeholders expect

from an organisation. To fulfil the purpose of this assigned the

stakeholders of Barclays will be incorporated within the table.


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institutions lending money to Angola, a country that has high human

rights violation.

Overall, considering the current climate where many firms are facing

increasing public scrutiny Barclays is making progress in the right

direction. They were once a bank that was making ethical gaffes to one

that has won awards for its policies. Barclays is an example of an

ethically engaged company, it has listened to criticisms faced in the

past and is trying to respond in a positive way. This was recognised

by the title of their 2004 report ‘Behaving responsibly’ which

contradicts their previous report about putting profits first. More

need to be accomplished at Barclays though; they should state some of

their policies more clearly (as in the case of the Angolan government

and the support of oppressive regimes). Despite all this, there is

evidence to suggest that Barclays is doing as much as possible to

satisfy all its various stakeholders but more progress needs to be

made. In order to achieve their aim of becoming a leader in ethical

and socially responsible behaviour they just need to continue in the

same direction and respond to the changing needs of society.

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