World's best bank for diversity and inclusion 2018: Bank of America
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World's best bank for diversity and inclusion 2018: Bank of America

Improving social mobility, caring in the community, supporting employees in challenging times and committing to equity – Bank of America has shown a long-standing commitment to D&I.

Awards for Excellence 2018

That Bank of America is the world’s best bank for diversity and inclusion is no surprise. Its journey began long before most other banks’. Chief executive, Brian Moynihan, has been chair of the bank’s global diversity and inclusion (D&I) council for 10 years.

This commitment shows up in the company’s diversity numbers. More than 50% of its global workforce, over 40% of its global management team and more than 30% of its board of directors are female.

In January this year, the bank also followed Citi in disclosing its pay gap – 99% of the compensation received by women is equal to that of received by men. But this was the year that the industry realized that – pay equality and board seats aside – not enough women are being supported in middle-management roles. So a great deal of BofA’s current D&I effort has been focused on mentoring in this area.

Retention of women during motherhood is also a key objective for the firm. Female employees expecting children have access to maternity workshops and senior women receive one-on-one coaching. Its London office even has a maternity room that pregnant and new-mum employees can use.

Its support programmes for female employees and clients are exhaustive – from virtual development sessions for multicultural women, to its Global Women’s Conference and its Women in Wealth series.

Bank of America’s work supporting women goes beyond internal efforts. The bank works with the Cherie Blair Foundation to provide mentoring for female small business leaders in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. It partners with Kiva on microloans for female entrepreneurs and the Tory Burch Foundation in the US to connect community development financial institutions to women business owners. Since 2014, over $30 million has been deployed to more than 1,400 women entrepreneurs in the US.

Cynthia Bowman

Cynthia Bowman, head of diversity and inclusion, says that in the US, over 40% of BofA’s workforce is racially and ethnically diverse, andpay equity is at 99% with women and non-minority teammates. BofA’s Black Executive Leadership Council and Hispanic-Latino Leadership Council focus on supporting the advancement and representation of black and Hispanic and Latino talent at the bank. Both councils also have a specific focus on how to serve clients in these communities.

Supporting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community has been a long-standing policy of BofA. This year marks the 20th anniversary of when the bank first offered comprehensive domestic-partner benefits. Its efforts in this area are now spread throughout its global network.

“In India for example, we launched this year an LGBT Ally programme and we have 296 allies already – those within the firm formally support minorities throughout our 11 networks,” says Matthew Koder, the bank’s president for Asia. “To see that support is important for our LGBT employees – even if they don’t choose to come out.”

In Korea, the bank invited a gay movie star to formally launch its network there earlier this year.

These efforts mean the bank is further ahead than several of the countries it now operates in – and that can be a difficult path to navigate. But it is not one that the bank shies away from. In countries where it operates and in which homosexuality is illegal, BofA has sought legal counsel before providing a platform for an LGBT network.

There is indeed no one left out of BofA’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. Support around planning for leaving the military and support for military spouses are embedded in its hiring plans for veterans – 7,500 service men and women have been hired over the last four years.

For employees with disabilities, the bank offers assistive equipment or devices, and gives training to managers on how to better engage employees with disabilities. For those with mental health problems or emotional issues, the bank has increased its counselling benefits.

Finally, it has a Life Events Service Team that supports employees going through serious life events such as terminal illness, the loss of a loved one or domestic violence. On this last point, support in the workplace is crucial.

Sheri Bronstein, global head of human resources, points out that the bank has helped 1,000 of its own employees who have reported being affected in some way by domestic violence, whether directly or through family members who have been victims.

This level of care is also extended into the community. Many employees in the retail bank are trained to look for evidence of human trafficking and domestic violence among clients.

Proving that BofA truly walks the D&I walk, it has a supplier diversity and development programme that seeks third-party vendors owned by minorities, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities and the LGBT community. The bank spent $2.18 billion with diverse suppliers last year alone.

It is also committed to improving social mobility in the communities it works in. Bronstein points to its partnership with Year Up, through which it has taken on more than 400 apprentices in the US for development training. The bank projects putting nearly 200 interns through the programme in 2018, up nearly 50% on last year. BofA has typically gone on to hire more than 40% of them.

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