Vogel Wakefield blog

Vogel Wakefield blog

July
05
2012

Dysfunctional banking cultures: what they need is servant leadership

How do you set right a corporate culture beset with “systematic dishonesty” – as Barclays has been described by its former chief executive, Martin Taylor?

The scandal at Barclays over its rigging of financial markets seems to represent a turning point which will require all banks to take a long, deep look at how the ways in which they operate may contradict the public interest. Were we not already in the worst financial crisis in living memory, the computer failure at RBS – which has prevented customers accessing their money and is still ongoing at Ulster Bank – would count as a monumental banking failure in its own right, evidence itself of the incompetence, negligence and greed that over many years has overwhelmed an ethos of stewardship at the major banks. On top of that, came news last week that the big four banks had committed serious failings in their mis-selling of interest rate hedges to small and medium-sized businesses

Small wonder that the Governor of the Bank of England has described the banks as “shoddy” and “deceitful”. Or that the Director-General of the Institute of Directors has said the banks “should feel deep shame for the damage they have done”.

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November
29
2011

The season of social value

Occupy London protestors at St Paul's Cathedral.

Occupy London protestors at St Paul’s Cathedral.

 

The idea that business should create social value, not just shareholder value, is fast becoming the common sense of our time. One could interpret this as a delayed corrective to the crisis in capitalism brought about by the credit crunch. But there was no inevitability about it. Even at the start of the year, when Michael Porter published his Harvard Business Review article on creating shared value, his argument was greeted with scepticism as much as agreement.

Since then, we’ve had the Arab Spring, public disgust with the press brought about by the phone hacking scandal and now the Leveson hearings, riots in England over the summer, the Occupy protests, and the looming threat of financial and social collapse in the euro zone. These events have given voice to public unease with corporate elites who seem out of control and political elites who have no answers to our current predicament.

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