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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: ‘Sign up to ethical code or quit,’ Barclays’ CEO warns staff

Barclays’ new chief executive issued employees with an ultimatum today to either sign up to an ethical code of conduct or quit, as part of the bank’s attempt to try and repair its battered reputation.
In a memo sent to its 140,000 staff worldwide, Antony Jenkins warned that, in future, performance would be judged on a set of five ethical standards being laid out ahead of a strategic review that was intended to provide the blueprint for “at least the next decade” at the firm.
The core ethical values comprise respect, integrity, service, excellence and stewardship and underpin Jenkins’ pledge to make Barclays the “go to” bank. The organisation is currently trying to overhaul its culture in the wake of a high-profile scandal, following its rigging of the interbank lending rate, Libor.
Jenkins told the Independent: "Performance assessment will be based not just on what we deliver, but on how we deliver it. We must never again be in a position of rewarding people for making the bank money in a way which is unethical or inconsistent with our values."
Jenkins took over from predecessor Bob Diamond in August, who resigned after the bank was fined £290 million by regulators in the UK and US for attempting to manipulate Libor.
Barclays has come under criticism over its alleged culture of focusing on short-term profits and bonuses and for apparently failing to introduce adequate processes and controls to prevent the scandal from occurring in the first place.
Linking performance with values
Jenkins acknowledged that there was "a tendency at times, manifest in all parts of the bank, to pursue short-term profits at the expense of the values and reputation of the organisation". But in doing so, "we damaged our ability to make long-term sustainable returns," he added.
As a result, Jenkins said that he was presenting staff with the stark choice of either adhering to the new corporate values or of finding jobs elsewhere.
"There might be some who don’t feel they can fully buy in to an approach which so squarely links performance to the upholding of our values,” he said. "My message to those people is simple: Barclays is not the place for you.”
The rules had now changed, he added. “You won’t feel comfortable at Barclays and, to be frank, we won’t feel comfortable with you as colleagues."
There will also be a step-change in how personnel are rewarded at the bank under the new plan to make it a "values-driven" and "valuable" business.
Jenkins has already appointed former Financial Services Authority boss, Sir Hector Sants, to the newly-created role of head of compliance and it is believed that he has also been tasked with helping to rewrite the bank’s pay strategy.
There have been reports that Barclays may be looking to pay some of its £290 million Libor fine by dipping into the 2012 bonus pool of its investment bankers – a proposal that has inevitably been met with hostility by some of its staff.
More details about the firm’s ethical code are expected to be published at the same time as its financial results are released on February 12, meanwhile. The findings of an independent review being carried out by City lawyer Anthony Salz into its culture and business practices are due before its annual shareholder meeting in April.


One Response

  1. Linking Performance to Value

    It seems odd that Barclays will, after so many years of existence now be saying that performance will be linked to values. I believe that a proper assessment of the processes which led to people being rewarded for bringing in the most profit for the organisation should be looked at. Barclays is a multinational, a world giant in banking and if at that level, the organisation did not find it neccesary to live by its espoused values, then there is a big problem.

    What happened to their corporate values? Was it for show or just to show that Barclays had the right set of organisational literature?

    Is what Barclays doing now just a PR gimmick?

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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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