How Sorry Are You, Barclays?

 How Sorry Are You, Barclays?

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Barclays. (Pictured: Barclays CEO Bob Diamond)

Isn’t it nice to know that Barclays PLC and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay more than $450 million to settle charges that it attempted to manipulate key global interest rates? The announcement of the largest-ever fine was accompanied by much huffing and puffing about market integrity. Everyone agrees; terrible business. Why, even Bob Diamond, Barclays CEO, and his three chief lieutenants waived their bonuses in recognition of the seriousness of the issue.

Barclays said all the right things on the day. It humbly acknowledged the actions “fell well short of the standards to which Barclays aspires.” This was a mea culpa, albeit somewhat measured, given that the Department of Justice is continuing with its criminal probe. This could get uglier, no doubt.

But was that it? Was there a lost paragraph to the announcement? Yes, investigations are continuing, yes other firms are involved, and yes, Barclays has been assisting every regulator it possibly can. Fair enough, but the key question remained unanswered in Barclays’ formal statement. Has ANYONE lost their job or been suspended? Has there been a clearing of the decks?

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Barclays for avoiding disclosure of the most important piece of news: Is anyone’s head going to roll?

PR Takeaway: One way to draw a line over bad behavior is to draw a line over bad employees. If the bank is committed to turning a new page in ethics, why not update stakeholders about who was, or will be, fired? Even if previously disclosed, say it again. Waiving a bonus counts for something, but making it clear to inside and outside stakeholders that certain behaviors will not be tolerated goes further. This was an odd omission in a statement that went to lengths to make it clear that these issues won’t happen again.

Did Barclays go far enough by apologising and waiving bonuses, or should heads have rolled? Give us your PR Verdict, below.

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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. Yes, a “D” indeed! And who pays the fine? Shareholders! better to deduct the fine from the bonus pool and clawback the awards.
    Richard Mahony recently posted..Chief Justice Roberts: Master of SpinMy Profile

  2. Paul Marrone Paul Marrone says:

    Agree. Traditional acknowledgements of fault are no longer enough. The failures to better oversee corporate conduct and and impose outcomes for those responsible for mal- or misfeasance are rare. Head(s) should roll at the most senior levels. The “buck” stops at the C-suite.

  3. We’re told the chairman will resign tomorrow. If I were cynical, I’d suggest he’s acting as a human shield for the CEO. After six years as chairman, t’was time he was moving on anyway. But then again, I’m not cynical.
    Joe recently posted..TAXONOMICSMy Profile

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    How Sorry Are You, Barclays?…

    The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for Barclays for avoiding disclosure of the most important piece of news. Is anyone’s head going to roll?…

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