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|Banks value social responsibility more after crisis|
|Written by Mohana|
|Thursday, 23 September 2010 21:22|
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The global financial crisis led to tighter regulation of the banking industry's excesses, but a top British banker says it had a more important result: greater emphasis on social responsibility.
Barclays President Robert Diamond told the Clinton Global Initiative philanthropy meeting on Wednesday that "strong banks want strong regulation" because they suffered in the crisis from being put in the same basket as failed banks.
"The change is good on the financial side. The change that's more important is on the cultural side," Diamond, who will become Barclays PLC chief executive next year, said during a discussion on stronger market-based solutions.
More than 1,300 people including heads of state like U.S. President Barack Obama, business leaders such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, humanitarians and celebrities are due to attend the sixth annual meeting of the philanthropic initiative started by former President Bill Clinton.
While Barclays is committed to giving away a percentage of its profits annually -- in 2009 it was $90 million from its total profits of $18.2 billion -- Diamond said it was important to change the business culture and encourage employees and company leaders to become involved in charity.
For people, and banks, to be successful, they need to be able to take risks, he said.
"We have to find a way to balance a safer and sounder financial system with banks that are willing and able and good at taking risks and that's what is going to foster job growth, economic growth," Diamond said.
To attend Clinton's meeting, commitments must be made to tackle economic empowerment, education, environment and energy, and health. By the start of this year's three-day meeting, which started on Tuesday, nearly 300 pledges valued at $6 billion had already been made.
When Clinton's initiative began, corporations tended to show up and write checks to fund humanitarian programs. Now many see philanthropy in terms of investment opportunities.
Clinton's philanthropic meeting was found to be the most popular summit for chief executives in 2009, according to a study by public relations firm Weber Shandwick.
Attendees pay $20,000 and the rules state if participants do not make or fail to keep a commitment they cannot return.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Anthony Boadle)
Source: Reuters,22nd September 2010