Barclays supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals

23 January 2019

Barclays CEO Jes Staley on the bank’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – a call to action to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals highlight how ending poverty goes hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and address social needs including education, health and job creation.

In a video published today, showing how the bank is running programmes that support the UN’s goals, Barclays CEO Jes Staley said: “The United Nations recognises that unemployment is a significant issue, estimating that 470 million more jobs are needed globally by 2030. These need to be quality jobs that deliver a fair and secure income if we’re going to lift people out of poverty.” 

The 17 global goals range from promoting gender equality, to ending hunger, to advancing affordable clean energy. Goal 8 – ‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’– is an area where Barclays can have substantial, first-hand impact. The UN states: “Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions to allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment.”

To address this, Staley said that Barclays’ “commitment is to upskill millions of people and help drive job creation.” He continued: “We’re helping people gain access to the vital skills they need to get into work. By addressing the challenges people have in finding employment, we believe that the individual’s social and economic prospects increase, which in turn creates broader opportunities for growth and helps build long-term demand for banking services.”

Barclays, said Staley, has played a part in driving economic growth and societal progress for over 327 years. Today, he added, “we have more opportunity to play a role in fostering innovation and inclusive growth for all, as we develop the future of banking”.

Staley said that Barclays is committed to using its connections with corporate and SME clients, suppliers and high-growth entrepreneurs while providing training and resources for job-seekers, working on both sides of the employment equation. Below we outline four programmes that illustrate Barclays’ further engagement in supporting the next generation of job creators and seekers: LifeSkills, Connect with Work, Eagle Labs, and Unreasonable Impact.


LifeSkills delivers careers education and work experience, creating a pipeline of talent that helps people into the first stages of employment, benefitting them and companies throughout the UK.

Kirstie Mackey, Head of Citizenship and Consumer Affairs for Barclays UK, explains: “Over the last five years we’ve been running our LifeSkills programme, which equips young people with those key skills they need for the world of work. It does that through working with schools, universities and colleges and providing lesson plans for teachers.

“Already 6.7 million young people have gone through the programme. They feel far more motivated to study, they’re incredibly confident, and they have better aspirations and a clearer career plan, and these are all things they weren’t necessarily getting taught in their school environment.”

Connect with Work

Barclays’ Connect with Work programme is supporting people from often overlooked communities into work by providing them with the relevant skills and helping them find meaningful work by connecting them with Barclays suppliers or clients.

Deborah Goldfarb, Head of Citizenship for Barclays International, says the programme is unique because it takes a “demand-led approach”. She adds: “We’re working with organisations to identify their hiring needs and then we’re providing skills and training for individuals to secure placement in these roles.”

Barclays partnered with Per Scholas to create a full-time 17-week training programme helping upskill people in a rapidly expanding area of technology. Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas, says: “The Barclays partnership has been exceptional. We’re finding individuals who are incredibly talented in communities that are often overlooked. We know we’re not just transforming the lives of those individuals, but also the lives of family members and many more generations to come.”


Eagle Labs

“In a time of economic uncertainty in the UK,” says Kirstie Mackey, “it’s really important that we look at how we can make the whole of the UK thrive, especially in local communities – and what’s important in that is smaller businesses.”

Since 2015, Barclays’ Eagle Labs have offered co-working and office space to help grow UK businesses through innovation. Mackey says the 20 Eagle Labs across the UK – from Jersey to Edinburgh – benefit society by providing an environment where businesses can grow and scale – providing structured mentoring, technical skills-building, and providing access to emerging technologies that small businesses might not otherwise have the resources for.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of the UK economy,” says Mackey, “if we want a successful UK economy we need all of the UK to be thriving, so that’s all of our local communities, not just the big cities.”

Unreasonable Impact

Unreasonable Impact,” explains Deborah Goldfarb, “is a partnership between Barclays and Unreasonable Group, focused on supporting the next generation of job creators, who are pioneering new business models and technologies and are addressing some of the key issues of our time, whether it’s how we bring clean, affordable energy to the 1.5 billions people living off the grid, or how we can sustainably feed a growing population that’s set to exceed 8.5 billion by 2030.”

The intensive programme runs across the UK, US and Asia, where entrepreneurs get tailored advice from mentors, experts and industry specialists. Fitting with the other Sustainable Development Goals that highlight the need for environmental innovation and sustainability, each Unreasonable Impact company has also committed to creating 500 jobs over the next five years.

Goldfarb says: “Our colleagues work with thousands of businesses every week, from small-scale startups to large multinational corporates, and as a result we are incredibly well positioned to open the networks and relationships of Barclays and help these Unreasonable Impact companies scale and grow. We expect to be creating thousands more new jobs.”

Read the Reuters article