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Questions to Ask


Barclays' founding history and contemporary context in the financial world and wider society.

Barclays' Origin and Context

An overview of current academic research on organisational culture and sustainability strategies.

Culture and Sustainability Strategy

Current Organisational Aims






Perquisition into the purpose of the organisation and interogating its dedication to sustainability.

We have compiled a selection of 3 key questions to ask on the day to aid our report.

Sythesized list of our references.

In terms of its engagement with sustainability, Barclays announced the creation of a Sustainable Banking Group, combining its Sustainable Capital Markets with the ESG Advisory teams to address clients' sustainability ambitions (Segal, 2024). They are the first banks to announce their net zero initiatives for 2050 by reducing their operational emissions and financing their clients’ emissions (Dempsey, 2023). Their global real estate operations use 100% renewable electricity, contributing heavily to Barclays’ progress towards their net zero goals (ibid.). Their commitment to align financing with Paris Agreement goals is evident through 2030 reduction targets in high-emitting sectors (Environmental Finance, 2023). For instance, since Barclays’ net zero target announcement in 2020, a 32% and 9% reduction has been seen in their energy and power portfolios, respectively (Barclays, 2022). Although the company has been criticized for its involvement in fossil fuels, it remains active in pursuing its net zero goal with initiatives such as retrofitting energy-efficient features for its new Cambridge Eagle Lab (Dempsey, 2023; Marsh, 2024).

Although every effort has been made to maximise the sustainability and accessibility of the Glasgow campus, such as implementing heat pumps, compost sites, solar panel placements, and a net zero energy centre (Graham, 2023), there is a marked lack of evidence to suggest Barclays has participated in any community initiatives to enrich its surrounding environment or the lives of the people who live within it.

A distinct lack of community focused initiatives

Barclays' Localisation

Edgar Schein's model of organisational culture (1985) comprises three levels:

  • Artifacts: organisational attributes that can be seen, felt, and heard by the uninitiated observer, including the facilities, offices, décor, furnishings, dress, and how people visibly interact with others and with organisational outsiders.
  • Espoused Values: the professed culture of an organisation's members. Company slogans, mission statements, written purpose and values and other operational creeds.
  • Underlying Assumptions: unseen and not consciously identified in everyday interactions between organisational members.
Edgar Schein proposed that culture is resistant to change and can outlast products, services, and leadership.Charles Handy (1978) associated organisational structure with culture, highlighting Power, Role, Task, and Person cultures, each with distinct characteristics and implications.Empirical studies support the idea that a healthy organisational culture positively influences the adoption and effectiveness of sustainability strategies (Miska et al., 2018, p. 264). Studies have found that CEOs who actively champion sustainability efforts contribute to a culture that embeds sustainability into the organisation's DNA (Network for Business Sustainability, 2010). Additionally, employee perceptions of an organisation's commitment to sustainability, influenced by the prevailing culture, impact their engagement in sustainable practices (Packalen, 2010, p. 119).


Follow Up Questions and Methodology

We will interview Barclays representatives on the Glasgow campus in an informal way to obtain candid and authentic perspectives on both culture and sustainability

How we will investigate the organisational culture influences their sustainability behaviour, if at all:

  • How do you think your sustainability efforts would differ if you were employed in a company with a different work culture?
  • Can you recall any instances of when organisational culture of Barclays influenced a specific sustainability or ESG initiative, if so, why do you think this was?
  • Do you think that the way in which you see sustainability is specific to how you worked at the Glasgow campus or would you say you have the same view of sustainability regardless of which Barclays site you worked at?
  • Could you give us some examples of when you or others have participated in local initiatives? (This will guage the level and authenticity of local ESG engagement as opposed to corporate wide efforts).

Assessing the impact from competition:

  • How has the advent of digital only banks affected operations at the Glasgow campus, if at all?
  • Have you seen any specific effort from Barclays to tackle this new form of competition?
  • How has Barclays implemented AI technology on the Glasgow campus?
  • Have you used AI in your work recently, if so, how?
  • Have you seen any marketing material advertising the use of AI at Barclays?

Cameron, K. & Quinn, R. (1999). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. John Wiley & Sons Chartered Management Institute. (2015). Understanding Organisational Culture. https://www.managers.org.uk/~/media/Files/PDF/Checklists/CHK-232-Understanding-organisational-culture.pdfDangwal, R. & Negi, P. (2019). Organisational Sustainability through Culture and Managerial Effectiveness: An Indian Perspective. Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Emerging Economies 5(1), 22–36. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2393957518812529#:~:text=Organisational%20sustainability%20can%20be%20sustained,stimulating%20(Wallach%2C%201983).Dempsey, J. (2023, July 3rd). Wimbledon: Stars call on championships to end Barclays sponsorship. BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-66084764 Environmental Finance. (2023). Financing the “missing middle” for climate tech. Environmental Finance. https://www.environmentalfinance.com/content/market-insight/financing-the missing-middle-for-climate-tech.htmlHandy, C. (1978). Gods of Management. Souvenir Press Ltd. Graham. (2023). Barclays Glasgow Campus crowned 'Best of the Best 2023' at the national BCO awards ceremony. https://www.graham.co.uk/about-us/news/barclays-glasgow-campus-crowned-best-of-the-best-2023-at-the-national-bco-awards-ceremonyIndeed. (2024). Working at Barclays: 2,444 Barclays Reviews. https://uk.indeed.com/cmp/Barclays/reviewsMarsh, P. (2024, January 18th). Barclays launches climate tech hub in Cambridge. Envirotec. https://envirotecmagazine.com/2024/01/18/barclays-launches-climate-tech-hub-in-cambridge/Miska, C., Schiffanger M., & Szocs, I. (2018). Culture’s effects on corporate sustainability practices: A multi-domain and multi-level view. Journal of World Business, 53(2), 263-279. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jwb.2017.12.001Moorehead, S., & Mc Grory, S. (2009). How Barclays' employees keep the customer promise. Strategic Communication Management, 13(3), 28-31. https://uoelibrary.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/how-barclays-employees-keep-customer-promise/docview/203606421/se-2


Network for Business Sustainability. (2010). Embedding Sustainability in Organisational Culture: A How to Guide for Executives. https://nbs.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Executive-Report-Sustainability-and-Corporate-Culture.pdfPackalen, S. (2010). Culture and Sustainability. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 17(2), 118-121. https://doi.org/10.1002/csr.236Schein, E. (1985). Organizational Culture and Leadership. Jossey-Bass Inc. Segal, M. (2024, January 17th). Barclays Launches New Sustainable Banking Business. ESG Today. https://www.esgtoday.com/barclays-launches-new-sustainable-banking-business/

Barclays’ Purpose is to ‘deploy finance responsibly to support people and businesses, acting with empathy and integrity, championing innovation and sustainability, for the common good and the long term’ (Barclays, 2022). With this, they have fostered a culture that encourages unconventional thinking and a customer-centric environment. The tagline ‘career built around customers’ has been communicated internally in hopes of linking customer satisfaction with employee career satisfaction. This customer-centric model enforced in 2007 has helped maintain an image of excellence (Moorehead et al., 2009). However, there appears to be mixed reviews of its culture from employees. On the positive side, reviews are commenting on Barclays’ supportive environment and flexible working conditions. However, there are also concerns about the lack of departmental interaction and an excessive focus on job performance, potentially damaging work-life balance and raising apprehension about job security (Adjei et al., 2014; Indeed, 2024). Nonetheless, Barclays is channelling its company values of respect, integrity, service, excellence, and stewardship to maintain positive engagement with its employees and improve areas that are of concern (Barclays, 2022).


Barclays employees based in Glasgow will likely need to be approached in a formal setting on their own site. This will inevitably introduce some limitations:

  • Many of their answers may be rather corporate or reserved, making it difficult to obtain unbiased and candid facts and opinions.
  • Similarly, impressions given in a corporate setting can be rehearsed making an accurate understanding of cultural values (especially assumptions) may require more extended periods of observation to uncover.
Nonetheless, the questions we wish to ask on the day consist of the following:
  • To what extent are your sustainability goals motivated by your organizational culture?
  • Does the organizational culture on the Glasgow campus differ from any other places you have worked in the UK? If so, why do you think this is?
  • What was the main element that drew you to the Glasgow campus over other Barclays sites?


Adjei, H., Emos Akwasi Amofa, & Kumasi Polytechnic. (2014). ASSESSING STRATEGIES FOR MANAGING WORK RELATED STRESS AT BARCLAYS BANK LIMITED, TAKORADI. European Journal Business and Innovation Research, 2(2), 51 – 69. Barclays. (2024). Our History. https://home.barclays/who-we-are/our-history/Euromoney. (2023). Western Europe country category winners 2023: Best Bank in the UK for ESG: Barclays. Euromoney. https://www.euromoney.com/article/2cc8q50d68ey5crupk6pt/western-europe-country-category-winners-2023-best-bank-for-esg-in-the-uk-barclaysBarclays. (2024). Why Barclays. https://www.barclays.ae/home/why-barclays/#:~:text=With%20over%20325%20years%20of,and%20employs%20approximately%2085%2C000%20people.Barclays. (2024). Barclays Scotland, Welcome to our Glasgow campus. https://search.jobs.barclays/GlasgowBarclays. (2024). Addressing climate change. Home.barclays. https://home.barclays/sustainability/addressing-climate-change/ Barclays. (2024). Prepared for the road ahead . 1. https://home.barclays/content/dam/home-barclays/documents/investor-relations/reports-and-events/annual-reports/2022/AR/Barclays-PLC-Strategic-Report-2022.pdf Barclays. (2024). ESG Resource Hub. Home.barclays. https://home.barclays/sustainability/esg-resource-hub/ Barclays. (2024). Sustainability | Barclays. Home.barclays. https://home.barclays/sustainability/ Cameron, K. & Quinn, R. (1999). Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. John Wiley & Sons


Founded by two goldsmith Quakers in 1690 on the principle of plain, simple, and honest dealing, Barclays has grown to become a bastion of the financial industry over 330 years and multiple financial crises, which have, at times, marred the bank's reputation. Nonetheless, the bank has become a truly global firm with offices in over 40 countries (including Scotland). Barclays has also become an industry leader in sustainability, lending over £2.6bn to green home mortgages and winning best bank for ESG in the UK.Barclays' Glasgow site also consumes 100% renewable energy, making use of air-source heat pumps to decarbonise their energy supply, preventing the emission of 400 tonnes of carbon a year.

Organisational culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and assumptions that define how individuals within a company behave and make decisions as well as how work is carried out. Scholars argue that a strong, positive organisational culture can foster a long-term commitment to sustainability (Dangwal & Negi, 2019, p. 23). Research has shown that organisations with cultures that prioritise innovation, ethical behaviour, and employee engagement are more likely to integrate sustainability practices into their strategies (Miska et al., 2018, p. 266).The "Competing Values Framework" developed by Kim Cameron and Robert Quinn (1999) is often applied to analyse an organisation’s culture. This framework identifies four common culture types: clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy. A clan culture emphasises collaboration and a focus on internal development; Adhocracy cultures is characterised by innovation and risk-taking; Market cultures are driven by competition and results; Hierarchy cultures emphasise control and stability.