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Barclays Case Study: Supporting clients, colleagues and communities to rise

by | Jan 26, 2019

In 2018, Barclays was named on Fortune Magazine’s 2018 “Change The World” list for the first time. The list was created to recognise companies that have had a positive social impact via activities that form part of their core business strategy.

For the past decade, employees at Barclays’ offices around the world have been actively taking part in global and local initiatives that encourage the concept of shared value. Through its Social Innovation Facility (SIF), Barclays encourages colleagues to submit ideas that have commercial value whilst also solving pressing societal challenges. Many of these ideas have been funded and integrated into the business.

Globally Barclays is trying to address the employment gap both from the supply and the demand side. Through its Connect with Work programme, Barclays supports people into meaningful jobs and through the Unreasonable Impact programme supports growth-stage entrepreneurs to create thousands of jobs. This aligns well with Barclays’ overall purpose of “creating opportunities to rise.”

Barclays in Asia Pacific

As part of its SIF activities, Barclays conducts an Intrapreneur Challenge. Employees across the Asia Pacific region are encouraged to submit ideas for a new product or service that could also have a positive impact on society. Selected colleagues win a place at the annual Intrapreneur Lab, held in Hong Kong in 2018, where employees attend workshops and receive coaching. The best ideas are then developed into a business plan and pitched to the senior leadership team for funding and approval to pilot.

“Barclays encourages and supports colleagues to participate in citizenship activities and programmes like these,” says Anthony Davies, Chief Executive of Barclays Bank Plc Hong Kong Branch and Chair of Barclays’ Asia Pacific Citizenship Council. “We want to give colleagues the opportunity to develop ideas that may extend beyond their day-to-day responsibilities.”

Results and the way forward

Since 2012, approximately 50 social impact business ventures across the globe have been funded by Barclays’ SIF. In some cases, employees have even created new internal opportunities for themselves. On the whole, examples abound throughout the organisation of how Barclays is either initiating programmes for social change or teaming up with other organisations to benefit communities across the globe.

In 2018, Barclays established the Social Impact Bankinggroup which identifies early-stage positive-impact companies and advises them on growing their businesses. Many industries provide opportunities for Barclays to provide support, such as sustainable agriculture, recycling, energy storage, electric transportation and financial services. A second focus of the group is building relationships with sustainability-focused investors across asset classes to better understand their needs and connect them with potential investments. The insight gained from both efforts will help Barclays advise larger corporates on trends and opportunities in these growing areas and how to engage with this new, differentiated investor base.

On an even larger scale, Barclays has partnered with the Unreasonable Group to launch the world’s first international network of accelerators focused on scaling up entrepreneurial businesses that will help employ thousands worldwide, while solving some of our most pressing societal challenges. Unreasonable Impact consists of three intensive two-week programmes held annually in three distinct regions: the Americas, Asia Pacific, and the UK & Europe. In 2018, the Asia Pacific programme took place in June in Hong Kong and culminated in a“Demo Day” where 14 growth-stage ventures — fresh from consultations with an array of mentors and specialists from Barclays and other top firms — presented their ventures before a select group of invited guests. The global network consists of 90+ ventures that collectively reach approximately 105 million customers and support over 18,000 jobs in over 180 countries.

Shared Value and the Bottom Line

A series of tangible metrics from these initiatives enable the company to measure how the concepts are developing, from the idea stage to when they are launched. Internal “ambassadors” for the company help to spearhead continued progress within, while “spotlight” sessions highlight particular programmes and initiatives that are emerging.

“They’re fantastic, but I’d love to scale them up even more,” says Davies of the programmes emerging at Barclays across the Asia-Pacific region. “Each year we’re getting more people who are excited about it, so scalability is key…and that’s about resources and funding.”

The company is a firm believer that shared value programmes should be encouraged, no matter what the industry. “Things are changing so fast because of technology,” adds Davies. “If you don’t try and really think outside of the box and innovate, you’re going to be left behind. Therefore, if you can embed that into your organisation and become innovative and creative, you’ve got a better chance of surviving. Barclays is investing the time, the money and the effort to educate employees about these initiatives. So it’s good for us and it’s good for the community.”

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