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How does Barclays plc fulfil its obligations to their stakeholders in terms of ethical business practice and socially responsible corporate behaviour?

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Introduction

To: Dr Yi Zhu Fr: Alecia Baker Date: November 4, 2005 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. ...read more.

Middle

Have their efforts paid off? According to the Ethical Investment Research Service (2004), Barclays has '... advanced employee policies and there are clear evidence to support it.' Acknowledging the significance of their employees, their customers are also vital to them. Since this is a multinational company and their customer base is very wide measures are taken to also placate them. Customers have high power and low interest. High power because this organisation has to keep them satisfied and low interest because they are not really concerned with the internal affairs of the business. Barclay's policy concerning customers states that '...they are committed to treating customers fairly and making products and services easily accessible.' In the past this policy has been challenged when in 2003 The Office of Fair Trading found them guilty of misleading customers about a current promotion they had. Since then the bank has raised its standards to improve its image. To confirm this a survey carried out by MORI (2003) on the public's view about organisations and whether they were fulfilling their obligations to their customers and Barclays ranked 18th out of the 50 companies that were analysed . Furthermore, reconciling the fact that employees and customers come first then shareholders' profits will be optimised, the agenda has been to focus on them next. ...read more.

Conclusion

They have claimed that they will not lend money to organisations that support oppressive regimes. A recent study has contradicted that claim. An article published by The Guardian (2005) shows that Barclays is one of the major financial 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. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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