When Chief Executive of Barclays – Antony Jenkins – was guest editor of the Today programme on Radio 4 over Christmas, he said that he expected it to be five to 10 years before he can restore public trust in the bank. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby – also on the programme – said that change would take a generation.
If it is ever to happen (and that’s a big if), the bank has to:
- be more successful at preventing all corrupt / fraudulent behaviour such as the most recent exposé of stolen customer data
- address the frankly bewildering issue of rising bonuses despite falling profits
- and also find some way of ensuring that Jenkins’ fine words and doubtless sincere protestations are believed, echoed and personally reinforced by every one of Barclays’ 140,000 employees.
My personal experience tells me that they are some way off this.
Shortly after Christmas I remarked to a friend of mine who works in the Corporate Banking side of Barclays that I couldn’t seem to tune into Radio 4 without hearing Antony Jenkins. He looked rather exasperated and said that Jenkins was losing sympathy within the Bank where he was perceived as “preachy”. I responded by saying that I thought Jenkins was coming across well and was saying the sort of things that we, the public, wanted and needed to hear. My friend’s response was that Jenkins couldn’t be a one man crusade but he needed to take the rest of the bank with him. It appears, from the “preachy” soubriquet, that he is failing to do this.
When faced with the challenge of changing the culture of a company the size of Barclays, it is clear that intervention is needed on multiple levels, in a number of different areas. The Salz Review detailed 34 separate recommendations needed to enable Barclays to rebuild trust and implement practices that would position it as a business leader among multinational corporates.
Some of these are more obvious areas of focus than others.
One fairly obvious area is the role and influence of HR. Salz makes a passing reference to recruitment – paragraph 10.5 in the People Management section. However, based on my own experience of Barclays’ recruitment process gained over 14 (non-consecutive) months of job hunting during 2012 – 2014, I believe Barclays needs to work a lot harder on its hiring process.
Over the 14 months I received somewhere between 15-20 job opportunities within Barclays from recruitment agencies. These were mostly interim roles, a few were permanent.
Three of the roles progressed to interview. The rest disappeared without trace. Even the headhunters didn’t seem to know what had happened to them.
The three roles that I interviewed for, I received favourable feedback. In one instance I progressed to final interview with the function head. Ultimately however all three roles also dematerialised.
Job hunting over the past few years has been a fairly soul destroying process. When the country was in recession and the supply of experienced professionals outstripped demand, companies could be confident that they could get expert resource whenever they needed it, no matter how shabbily they treated hopeful candidates. However, as the country climbs out of recession, these companies may find that the damage they have done may not be forgotten if good candidates get a choice of roles.
It would not surprise me if some of the agencies who have also wasted a lot of time and effort on a succession of roles that have ultimately never progressed to an appointment and whose own credibility and reputation is therefore called into question, may decide that, on balance, there are more reliable companies to direct their best candidates towards.
Having been looking for my next role since December 2013, I am now in the very fortunate position of having two very different, equally interesting job opportunities on offer. Both companies have demonstrated throughout the process a keen desire to move the process along quickly and displayed an encouraging interest in ensuring my continued interest in them and the role on offer.
What a difference from the casual disregard of Barclays’ hiring managers.
If, as it once seemed probable, a role at Barclays was also up for my consideration, I can’t imagine any package they might have offered that would have enabled me to overlook the disheartening indifference I had experienced so frequently before. If they don’t treat potential employees with respect, why should I expect any more consideration if I become a fulltime employee?
My experience over 15+ interactions with Barclays’ hiring process indicates that, despite Antony Jenkins fine words and sincere intentions, the company is still haemorrhaging trust all over the place.