Over the past year we introduced numerous new initiatives which were not only dedicated to D&I topics, but they integrated D&I as a value element.
Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of your company?
The past year and a half was very challenging for all of us, under the pressure of new circumstances. The pandemic caused us many worries, especially concerning the health and safety of our employees and clients, while the earthquakes made us aware of diverse vulnerabilities of our stakeholders that we had not considered during the previous normal and prosperous times. This greatly reshaped our efforts in advancing diversity and inclusion in our bank. The major milestone in the past year was to reconsider sensitivities of various stakeholders and to pay more attention to new models of diversity importance in our organization.
What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?
Exactly as I said, we have been dedicated to re-prioritize our diversity management. During the Covid crisis and new models of work we paid much more attention to various kinds of vulnerable groups – related to ability/disability, health status, parents with young children, colleagues who needed to care for family members, even mental-health capacities. In addition to our corporate style of an open organization in which lending a helping hand is a part of the culture, we now understand diversity from different angles.
Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?
D&I is regulated in the bank by many documents and procedures. But we all know that having rules is not closely enough. It takes lots of human interest and enthusiasm to build a diverse culture. Over the past year we introduced numerous new initiatives which were not only dedicated to D&I topics, but they integrated D&I as a value element. For example, our mental health coachings and content we shared with employees included the aspects dedicated to diversity. We launched a gamification platform aimed at open sharing of ideas, which also encouraged diversity in collaboration, mentoring and knowledge-sharing. Related to pandemic situation, we introduced many measures which enabled our colleagues to feel more comfortable related to their diverse needs and enabling them more sound life-work balance.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by the industry sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?
In financial sector we have specific challenges. Probably the most prominent one is how to reflect gender participation in managerial functions, relative to large female representation in workforce. One of the ways we also manage it is to strictly respect pay equality and equal options for career development. I believe that the age equality and balance topic will become more sensitive issue in the coming years. Each company has to find its own ways but starting early and collaborating with young people may help build diverse and inclusive companies of tomorrow.
What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?
Well, diversity enriches the companies. We saw the proof of that in our Ideaportal program, where multi-diverse people contribute with their ideas and comments. The more diverse the company, the better we understand the world in which we live and work. Also, being closely exposed to diversity needs prompts us to invest in being a better workplace for all. Consequently, as a bank, to be a more acutely interested and individualized provider of financial products and services to our clients. Flexibility, understanding of needs and adaptability have become key employee and customer experience builders.
Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?
Recognizing which D&I aspects are material and relevant for your company, your stakeholders, and your community. For service providers – understanding your external stakeholders and treating them in accordance with your diversity pledges. Being authentic is the most challenging for every company. Not performing some diversity activities because it is trendy and effective but doing what is truly meaningful for your organization.
What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?
Everything that you do in culture development comes from the top of the company. Keeping an open door, being willing to hear out all colleagues, respect their opinions and concerns is crucial. Only if we behave like that, can we start promoting diversity values.
Any plans for the #EUDiversityMonth this May?
The most important one was organized on the level of our entire group – inviting almost 40 thousand of our colleagues from 11 countries to share their opinions and evaluations in our employee engagement initiative. We will use the results as idea generator to develop our workplace as a more diverse, pleasant and inspiring place for work.
This interview was produced with the financial support of the European Union (project Workplace Inclusion Champion WIC). Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.