Human rights

As a global business, we have a clear responsibility to support governments and civil society groups in respecting and upholding human rights.

Human rights are basic rights for individuals. They form the foundations for freedom, justice and peace. They apply equally and universally in all countries, irrespective of the legal framework.

Our governance

We aim to operate in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as other international standards, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and International Labour Organization Core Conventions.  We also comply with all relevant legislation, including the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 – please see below for more information and the link to our Statement. Barclays’ Statement on Human Rights (PDF 245KB) outlines the relevance of human rights to our employment policies and practices, our supply chain screening and management and the responsible use of our products and services.

Working with stakeholders

We help to develop the business and human rights agenda through our membership in key organisations and participation in research and initiatives:

  • The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), including membership of the global steering committee, Chair of the Banking Committee and key contributor to the social issues work stream.
  • The Thun Group, an informal group of European banks who are reviewing the implications of the UN Guiding Principles for Human Rights and Business for the financial sector. The group published its first discussion paper (PDF 386KB) in 2013, providing thoughts on what the topic of human rights might mean for banks in practice. The second paper, published in January 2017 (PDF), examines the implications of the Guiding Principles for the Corporate and Investment Banking sector in more detail.  The Group will meet again in 2017 to discuss feedback on this paper and future work proposals.    
  • We contributed to an Equality and Human Rights Commission report “Business and Human Rights: a five-step guide for company boards” (PDF 445KB) that provides guidance to board directors on how to ensure their company is fulfilling its responsibility to respect human rights and meet the expectations of the UN Guiding Principles 
  • The Equator Principles Association - Barclays is a founding adopter of the Equator Principles which comprise environmental and social criteria applicable to project finance.  In 2016 we were the co-lead of the Social Risks Working Group.

Human rights training

In 2016 we introduced a Human Rights training module which outlines how we manage our impacts across four key areas: employees, suppliers, local communities and clients. Roll out of this module will be continued in 2017 to ensure on-going awareness raising of human rights issues with colleagues.

We provide internal guidance for lending and relationship managers to include advice on how to integrate human rights issues into their assessment of financial transactions. Using the online human rights guidance tool which we helped to develop in conjunction with other financial institutions participating in the UNEP FI social issues advisory group, we provide guidance on:

  • Identifying potential human rights risk in lending and investing
  • Assessing the materiality of the risk
  • Identifying possible risk mitigation opportunities.

Modern Slavery

Barclays recognises its responsibility to comply with all relevant legislation including the Modern Slavery Act 2015. We are committed to combating the risk of modern slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains or in any part of our business. The requirements of the Act reflect a drive to eradicate modern slavery in commercial organisations with operations in the United Kingdom. This is an important goal which has the full and unequivocal support of Barclays and we have published our latest Modern Slavery Statement for the reporting year 2018 in accordance with the requirements of the Act. View our policy on Modern Slavery (PDF 961KB).