Ethics and Behaviour

What we heard

Positive cultural change is founded on ethical behaviour. Demonstrating ethical decision-making consistently is challenging and is not unique to the banking industry. Feedback from staff in our member banks and other stakeholders including customers, highlighted the challenges involved in linking an organisation’s stated ethical values and behavioural require-ments with the day to day decisions which staff across banks make on an ongoing basis.

What we did

Prompted by this feedback the IBCB decided to develop a practical decision-making framework aimed at staff at all levels in banks, from the top down.

Over the summer months of 2020, the IBCB held a series of ‘co-create’ sessions attended by 120 staff from our member banks, the IBCB Board and Working Group members, IOB (Institute of Banking), the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman and journalists, with the goal of developing a practical ethical decision-making framework based on a series of hypothetical ethical dilemmas. The purpose of those sessions was to obtain feedback, views and input on how ethics and decision making can be improved, what aids would work well and those that do not. Regardless of the type of dilemma used to prompt discussion – common ‘steps’ emerged.

Founded on established academics – with input from IBCB Deputy Chair Professor Blanaid Clarke and IOB, the purpose of DECiDE is to act as a practical guide and tool for bank staff, regardless of level, when making difficult decisions.

DECiDE is intended is to assist with the decision-making process by prompting staff to consider various elements which will enable them as the decision-maker to be able to stand over the decision they took at a point in time, even if it transpires in due course that the decision was not optimum. Like all businesses, bank staff are frequently required to make commercial decisions which will not always be popular, the challenge is to ensure that these decisions are taken fairly and transparently, with appropriate consideration of their impacts.

The framework prompts staff to consider a range of issues such as the impact of Group dynamics, personal bias, the im-portance of diversity & inclusion, the need to consider the potential risks associated with short-termism vs more long-term and sustainability considerations etc.

The final Framework was launched by the IBCB at a virtual event on 29th September 2020 and included an opening address from the IBCB Patron, Dr. Martin McAleese, an interactive session with Prof. Frank Flynn, the Paul E. Holden Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, California and a panel discussion led by Prof. Blanaid Clarke. The launch event was attended by member bank staff, IBCB Board members; and a small number of attendees from external organisations who participated in the co-create sessions e.g., the Financial Service and Pensions Ombudsman and IOB.

Although broader embedding is still required, early indications from the results of our recent Staff Survey shows that DECiDE has made a positive impact, where staff are aware of and have used the framework. The IBCB will continue to work with our member Banks to further enhance the use of DECiDE and other internal decision-making supports. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is being increasingly used throughout numerous industries, with banking being no exception. The challenge for all industries and in particular for banking, is that the use of AI in making credit and other decisioning for customers (or staff), is that this is done in a transparent manner resulting in fair outcomes.

The IBCB began focussing on this topic in 2021 as part of our work on ethics. We intend to run a dedicated roundtable on the topic in late 2021 and to develop some good practice principles for the use of AI in banking.

Related Publications

IBCB DECiDE - one page infographic


IBCB DECiDE Framework booklet

Related Videos
IBCB Panel Discussion
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IBCB Panel Discussion

IBCB Launch of DECIDE Ethical Decision Making Framework Panel Discussion with representatives from KBC, FSU, FSPO and IBCB Board Members, Chaired by Prof. Blanaid Clarke, TCD.

IBCB Decide
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IBCB Decide

IBCB Launch of DECIDE Ethical Decision Making Framework—Intro including IBCB CEO Marion Kelly and IBCB Board Patron, Dr. Martin McAleese.