Diversity and inclusion: What the next generation thinks

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Which banks are doing the most to impress and attract their future employees? A potential young recruit gives her opinion.

By Elizabeth Bratton

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As part of the Euromoney Awards for Excellence process, we receive numerous pitches from global, regional and local banks showcasing their credentials in diversity and inclusion. The winner of our award for the World’s Best Bank for Diversity and Inclusion will be announced on July 11. 

D&I is increasingly seen by bank leaders as a core pillar of their business strategy: to promote fairness and a strong culture within their firms, to improve their business performance, and to attract future employees and leaders.

Inclusivity and diversity are undeniably important issues. Although many businesses recognise this, whether they decide to take action or not is a completely different matter. As important as it is for corporations to speak out against discrimination, it can seem meaningless if these beliefs are not acted upon. 

In a survey carried out by PWC in 2015, 73% of women in the financial services industry agreed that their organizations talked about diversity, but that opportunities were not equal for everyone. Of course, that was three years ago, and this statistic will most likely have improved, thanks to better awareness within society and business. It can be seen from the pitches that follow that diversity is becoming more valued, programmes are being launched and policies are being put in place – all of which are essential to improving inclusivity in the workplace. 

At a time when prejudice is so wide-spread, whether that is due to politicians, propaganda or close-mindedness, it is becoming increasingly incumbent on large corporations to take action in the name of equality. Three years ago, African-Americans made up 14% of the US population, yet held less than 3% of senior positions in financial services; again while this number may have improved since then through actions such as the launch of talent acquisition teams or new rules, there is still no doubt some way to go.

We asked our resident young millennial, Elizabeth Bratton (aged 15), who already blogs about diversity and gender equality to review the submissions we received this year and pick out five banks that really impressed her with the commitment they have shown to D&I.

Her opinions should form useful reading for any D&I executive – and their boss – on what the next generation are looking for and what they really appreciate.


ACCESS BANK

Access Bank has worked hard to eradicate stereotypes from the workplace, and has taken action to support women in and outside the company. 

Access Bank’s support towards women has been continuous, and it has been effective. The bank (which is based in Nigeria and headquartered in Lagos) recognises that discrimination is a serious issue, therefore it has worked constantly to eliminate financial and societal stereotypes that excluded women from certain roles or opportunities. 

Its Access Women Network celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8. One activity of the day focused on pairing up all members of staff and asking them to send notes of appreciation to one another. 

The ‘W’ initiative has remained central to Access’ fight for equality, enabling the bank to acquire 870,000 new female customers over the last three years. A 5% growth in access to finance was achieved by focusing on women-owned enterprises. 

Finally, Access Women Network collaborated with Genesis House on a campaign against gender-based violence on November 24. 

The bank has not only stated its support for gender equality, but has acted upon its beliefs. 


BANK OF AMERICA

Bank of America firmly believes that diversity is essential to the bank’s success. It has been recognised for its inclusivity multiple times. 

Bank of America’s management believes that diversity makes the bank stronger. More than 50% of their global workforce, over 40% of their global management team and over 30% of the board of directors is female, and in the US, over 40% of the workforce is racially and ethnically diverse.

In 2016 and 2017, the bank was recognised as a leader in gender equality on the Bloomberg Financial Services Gender Equality Index. In 2018, they were included on the sector-neutral Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. 

In 2017, Bank of America signed the Women in Finance Charter, which aims to improve gender diversity in UK financial services. To maintain and increase the diversity within the bank, Bank of America has specialised talent acquisition teams who work with over 30 partner organisations and 200 schools and universities around the world to recruit diverse talent early in their careers. 

Bank of America says it will not stop here; it is continuing to search for and recruit a diverse range of talent. 


DBS

DBS hires employees based solely on their talent, and provides an inclusive work environment for people of any age, gender or culture. 

DBS has a sustainability policy with four main pillars, the fourth of which is ‘Employer of choice’, which focuses on employees and their welfare. DBS has 24,000 employees in more than 40 countries, across 18 markets. The bank recognises that diversity is central to the strength of the company, and to preserve this, it provides an inclusive work environment that encompasses gender, cultural and generational diversity. 

The bank’s human resource management policy states that employees must only be hired on merit, competencies and organisational cultural fit, without prejudice to attributes such as gender, race, religion or physical traits. Within DBS’s workforce, more than 60% of employees are aged 30 to 50, and 55% are female. Furthermore, over a third of senior management positions are held by women. 

DBS says that it ensures that discrimination is never an issue within the workplace since equality is a core value for the bank. 


LLOYDS BANK

Lloyds has clearly worked hard to ensure that anyone of any background is given the opportunity to work in an inclusive, welcoming environment. 

Lloyds Banking Group has been making great progress with equality in the workplace. While inclusivity often feels like an all-too-common issue for many, at Lloyds, a staff survey found that 89% of colleagues agree that the bank is an inclusive place to work – 3% higher than 2016. Some 167 female colleagues at the bank completed the ‘Women in Leadership’ programme; more than 22% of these women have now been promoted. 

Furthermore, Lloyds claimed the top spot in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers 2017 for members of the LGBTQ+ community; they have also been named as a top trans-inclusive employer by Stonewall. Finally, the bank was able to retain its Disability Gold Standard, and continued to run a disability work experience programme in partnership with Remploy; in 2017, the number of candidates increased to 392 from 96 in 2016. 


UBS

UBS shows high levels of awareness; the bank has identified the lack of women in management roles as an issue, and is seeking to resolve this. 

UBS scored 100% in the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, making it one of the best places to work for members of the LGBTQ+ community. UBS believes that having a strong culture is vital to sustained success, so the bank introduced policies in three key areas: Pillars, Principles and Behaviours. 

As a result, the HR strategy is to hire, develop and engage employees at all levels who have diverse backgrounds and capabilities to advise clients, develop new products, manage risk and promote initiatives intended to build engagement. UBS is aiming to increase the number of women in management roles to one third as part of ensuring that all employees are provided with equal opportunities. 

Finally, in January this year, UBS launched the Global Gender Equality ETF; a joint collaboration between its asset management and wealth management businesses, as a part of the bank’s commitment to sustainable investing. The ETF is the first of its kind to put both gender equality and sustainability at its core. 

In summary, UBS has set targets, identified its aims for diversity in the workplace, and so has created a fairer workplace.