Our goal is to improve knowledge and at the same time raise awareness among our employees about this topic.
Could you share with us some key milestones in the D&I journey of your company?
Privredna banka Zagreb continuously applies positive practices in the manner of regulating the prohibition of all forms of discrimination and to encourage the application of diversity and inclusion through the Bank's internal acts, primarily through the Rules of Procedure, Code of Ethics, Code of Conduct, Human Resources Management Procedures and partly the Communication Manual. We would like to emphasize as PBZ milestones in this area, and at the same time a confirmation of our good guidelines and efforts, are following:
- Privredna banka Zagreb is the winner of the Key Difference in the Gender Equality category and was also a finalist in the selection for the award in the category of general equality. The aim of the award is to identify and promote employers with quality practices in including diversity in the work environment, and the award is part of the project "Encouraging diversity in the Croatian labor market". The inclusion of diversity of human resources in the award was related to the promotion of gender equality, age equality, equality of persons with disabilities and equality of persons belonging to national minorities. The award was presented for the first time in 2012 in the Republic of Croatia, and was awarded by the Office for Human Rights of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in partnership with the Association for Assistance and Education of Victims of Mobbing and the Labor Market Development Institute.
- In 2017, the Croatian Business Council for Sustainable Development organized the signing ceremony of the Diversity Charter, and Privredna banka Zagreb was among the first companies in Croatia to sign this charter. By signing the Charter on Diversity, we have committed ourselves to additional efforts to promote positive values in the business environment and the implementation of a policy of respect for diversity, promotion of the principle of diversity and reporting on activities in this area.
- On operative level, one of the milestones was setting formal efficient mechanisms to manage and resolve any non-compliance with our high ethical standards and principles. That way we can truly promote zero tolerance of discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment of employees, external associates as well as all other persons performing any work or activity in the Bank, such as Commission for the Protection of Dignity, Ethical Complaints Management, Internal irregulates report (Whistleblowing).
- CSR office formed in 2018. as a focal point for all socially responsible and sustainable activities within the PBZ Group resulted in implementation of integrated CSR governance model in everyday business and establishment of network of 30 CSR Ambassadors. Role of Ambassadors is to dialogue, propose, promote and report about all CSR initiatives, including the ones related with D&I.
- Introduction of Diversity & Inclusion as a qualitative KPI for overall management since 2018.
What aspects of diversity management have the highest priority in your company?
As a topic, the greatest importance is given to the most visible difference - gender. To raise awareness on this topic we use several approaches. As one of the more important steps we consider the Introduction of Diversity & Inclusion as a qualitative KPI for overall management since 2018. Related with, we also monitor and regularly report on operative goals.
On the other hand, to find out the thoughts and attitudes of our employees, we conduct numerous initiatives, surveys, trainings, and the like. Based on the obtained results on their response, reactions, interest, and thoughts, we use these results as a basis for further development of initiatives, monitoring and reporting.
Diversity management includes and applies to both managers and employees and the entire organizational culture.
As we first mentioned managers, this means that with the support of the company, managers are required to systematically recognize and include people with different characteristics in the projects and activities they carry out, in order to achieve the set goals. Diversity encompasses and applies to all kinds of differences. Of course, some differences are more obvious than others (e.g., age, gender, ethnicity), but diversity involves much more than that. It also refers to different abilities, level of education, economic situation, social status, origin, etc. Over time, the concept of diversity has expanded significantly and female and male employees, in their diversity, their skills, creativity and innovation, are key to the long-term success of any organization.
It is important to educate all employees on this topic, so we organized within PBZ Business School education on this topic for our employees, while through internal communication channels we publish frequently articles on this topic and launch initiatives in which we try to involve as many of our employees.
Which D&I activities have been implemented in your organization so far?
Intesa Sanpaolo, our parent bank, adopted a set of Principles on Diversity & Inclusion to confirm and made more effective its commitment to implement and disseminate – inside and outside of the Group – a policy for the inclusion of all forms of diversity (gender, sexual orientation, marital status and family status, age, ethnicity, religious belief, political affiliation and affiliation to unions, nationality, language, cultural background, physical and psychological conditions or any other feature of each individual, also including the expression of one's own thought), in accordance with the principles stated in the Group’s Code of Ethics and Internal Code of Conduct.
As a member of the ISP Group, the Bank / PBZ Group has carried out the process of adopting these Principles and is in the process of implementation activities.
The key principles at the basis of ISP Inclusion Policy are:
- Respect for all people in their identity and diversity expression
- Nurturing of everyone's skills and competences
- Equal opportunities
Therefore, through the internal policies that we mentioned earlier and the introduction of these principles, we believe that we have fully implemented all the necessary foundations for their optimal application.
Following the signature of the Diversity Charter in Croatia (2017), PBZ has increased the awareness of the importance of applying diversity and inclusion in everyday business, by undertaking several activities. One of them has been a contest for employees on the topic "How our diversity enriches our work environment". The objective of this was to discover and promote teams who in their daily work successfully cooperate and achieve goals by respecting different points of views, ideas and various other features and characteristics. Comprehensively 160 employees participated in the contest.
Another relevant activity was related to World Savings Day 2018: for this edition PBZ held some workshops on the topic Women and Finance named ”Risk- It’s a woman’s job’ created by the Museum of Savings. Women participating in these workshops were 62. PBZ organized a Roundtable "Women and Finance" aimed at raising public awareness of the importance of financial empowerment of women, especially in promoting entrepreneurship of women who are still not sufficiently developed.
For this occasion, we have invited inspirational speakers, successful women in their field of action who shared their experiences with other participants on topics that explain why women are less prone to risks, how the role of women has changed through history, and how to break myths about women and finances. Women participating in these workshops were 30.
We supported the ‘Women in Banking’ event in 2020 (and will do again in 2021)and successfully participated in the ‘Future leaders’ competition aimed at educating, empowering, and connecting women in the industry.
We have integrated into the Business School program a module focused on the D&I area.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by the industry sector in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce?
The increased focus on workforce diversity in recent years is an important trend that signals a desire to expand job opportunities for job seekers in all industrial sectors.
Increasing diversity is a formidable challenge for any industry. But that challenge is multiplied in manufacturing companies that must simultaneously deal with perceptions of their industries, for example like manufacturing companies. These industries usually different diverse groups not viewed welcoming places to build careers and these companies traditionally have not actively recruited women and other diverse groups.
And now, in an age of pandemics and the many challenges faced by various industries, I fear that the good path taken by many companies will stagnate or worsen.
Namely, as we can see, there is unemployment, the insecurity of keeping a job, and as the existing research shows, women are the most affected.
In the banking sector, what are consciously trying to enable are equal opportunities for all genders, within our group and outside of it.
What business benefits do you see as a result of increasing D&I?
According to scientific research, diversity and inclusiveness are the key to success and excellence in the most important strategic areas of corporate governance, enable innovation due to the effectiveness of combining different perspectives and approaches of different people, increase productivity and efficiency and positively increase employee motivation and engagement.
Diversity paves the way for realizing the full potential of each person, and a non-discriminatory policy in the workplace is a prerequisite for the development of creativity, innovation, and individual talent.
Can you name three diversity challenges that companies have to pay attention to?
Although of course there are many more benefits than challenges, we would highlight some of the challenges that occur most often when introducing any changes in organizations.
Effective and clear communication is key. Creating a diverse workforce looks good on paper, but it can be challenging to effectively implement it. That is because diversity means different things to different people.
Then I would like to single out resistance to change. There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. Attitudes that something has always been done in a certain way and nothing was missing can hamper implementation.
And ultimately it is necessary to adopt a diversity management strategy that will formally implement and support a culture of diversity at all levels from managers onwards.
What do you do to convince your colleagues to see the value in diversity management, or even more to truly get them on board?
As mentioned earlier, we frequently communicate on this topic through internal channels, implement numerous initiatives in which we want to involve as many of our employees as possible, educate management and all employees, set quality management goals for diversity, and conduct research at ISP level and at the level of PBZ on this topic.
We also noticed through other CSR initiatives with environmental/well-being/other focus, how people with different background come together when they discover common interest. Therefore, variety of such initiatives for employees is or will be conducted from which we now expect, as indirect result, increase in mutual understanding, respect and ultimately higher sense of inclusion and better business cooperation.
Any plans for the upcoming #EUDiversityMonth this May?
Yes of course. We are preparing an infotainment quiz for our employees on the gender differences with topic related rewards. In addition, we will dedicate a special article in our internal newspaper to this topic and communicate diversity topic through internal communication channels and through social networks.
Our goal is to improve knowledge and at the same time raise awareness among our employees about this topic.
In addition to #EUDiversityMonth initiatives, we will soon adopt and implement PBZ Diversity & Inclusion Principles and dedicate one thematic module within our PBZ Business School to CSR, sustainability and D&I.
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.