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Is Barclays ethical?

Barclays has been researched and ranked in The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Banks & Building Societies Ratings Table and receives one of the lowest scores in the category.

Unfortunately, due to Barclays’ extremely low score, the company has a long way to go to meet our ethical benchmark. However, we hope that in the future, Barclays will make the necessary changes to become a more ethical financial institution.

More information on the ethical issues faced by the sector, may be found in The Good Shopping Guide’s article on Ethical Banking. You can also use our Ethical Banks & Building Societies Ratings Table to compare Barclays to more ethical banks.

What does Barclays do?

Barclays, one of the UK’s ‘Big Four’ banks, is one of the largest and oldest banks in Britain. The company’s origins trace back to 1690 when John Freame and Thomas Gould began trading as goldsmith bankers in Lombard Street, London. The company was registered in 1896 as ‘Barclay and Company, Limited’ and had a series of names before eventually being renamed ‘Barclays Plc’, which it is known as today.

Barclays operates in the UK and internationally in over 40 countries.

For which criteria does Barclays score poorly? 

Barclays receives a low rating in the majority of our research categories, which has contributed to the company’s low ethical rating.

One example of this is the Irresponsible Lending criterion. Barclays receives a bottom rating because it has allegedly funded companies linked to a wide range of unethical activities, including fossil fuels, human rights abuses and Amazon deforestation.

Barclays has also been linked to several fossil fuel projects, including being named one of the top contributors to the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in Canada, the Vaca Muerta oil and gas reserves in Argentina and the Carmichael Coal Mine in India. As a result, Barclays also receives a bottom rating for Environmental Destruction.

In what areas does Barclays score well for its ethics?

Despite its low score, due to having a detailed Annual Report with sustainability goals and targets for future business operations, Barclays receives a top rating for Environmental Report. We hope to see Barclays follow through on these commitments in the coming years.

How can Barclays improve its ethical rating?

The ethical rating of a Finance brand is divided into three categories by The Good Shopping Guide: the Environment, People and Other. Find out more about how we rate.

Barclays has numerous issues which have contributed to its low GSG score and therefore require transformative changes to reach our ethical benchmark. The key issue that Barclays must address is its financing of controversial industries and harmful environmental projects.

If you’re interested in learning more about achieving Ethical Accreditation for your brand, please contact us or complete a Free Initial Assessment form.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Environmental Destruction


  • Carbon Disclosure & Reduction Targets



  • Irresponsible Lending


  • Political Donations


  • Irresponsible Lending+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Responsible Investment Policy


  • Mutual Status


  • Other Criticisms


  • Other Criticisms+


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating