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Is HSBC ethical?

HSBC has been researched and ranked in The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Banks & Building Societies Ratings Table and receives the lowest score in the sector.

Significant improvement is required by HSBC to meet our ethical standards. We hope to see HSBC make progress in the future and work towards addressing its unethical policies and business practices.

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 HSBC to more ethical alternatives.

What does HSBC do?

HSBC is one of the UK’s oldest banks and is a member of the ‘Big Four’ largest banks in the UK, alongside Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest.

HSBC was founded in Hong Kong in 1865 by British merchants to finance the growing trade through China, India, the rest of the British Empire and Europe. The name ‘HSBC’ therefore originated as an acronym for ‘The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation’.

Since 1991, the parent company has been headquartered in London and the original Hong Kong bank now operates as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings.

For which criteria does HSBC score poorly? 

Due to its financing of controversial businesses linked to human rights and labour abuses, deforestation, destructive mining, and more, HSBC receives a bottom rating for Irresponsible Lending.

Additionally, HSBC receives a low score in the Environmental Destruction category. The company has been implicated in the funding of several projects which are widely considered detrimental to the planet, including various fossil fuel projects across the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

In what areas does HSBC score well for its ethics?

HSBC receives a top rating for its Environmental Report, as its latest Annual Report & Accounts meets our requirements.

How can HSBC 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.

HSBC is a long way from meeting our ethical benchmark. Although significant change is required, we are confident that if HSBC implemented more ethical policies and ceased the funding of harmful businesses and business practices, the company could clean up its act.

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