Achieving Gender Parity
The group discussed current trends in internal diversity and inclusion. Carole Jackson from Mercer presented disheartening results from the recent study, “When Women Thrive,” showing that if the current hire, promotion and retention rates of executives stay the same as they were in the last 12 months in the financial sector, Mercer actually expects a decrease in women in executive positions by 2025: from 15 percent to 12 percent. Two banks then explained their strategies to increase female representation internally. Roofi Jamil shared HBL’s experience in Pakistan with unconscious bias training, and Julie Rynski walked through Westpac’s Inclusion & Diversity journey.
- Diversity of workforces is linked to better performance, better relationship with customers and better and more innovative products. Yet organizations are still struggling to create inclusive environments across different sectors.
- Mercer’s study identified what organizational policies, practices and cultural elements lead to better advancement of women into leadership positions. They engaged more than 700 organizations in 42 countries, including 3.2 million employees, and they acquired 12 months of data from the organizations. They have now created a data cut for the financial services industry.
- There has been increasing attention to diversity across different organizations. Yet women are still underrepresented at all levels of businesses, and hiring, promotion and retention rates are insufficient to create gender equality by 2025.
- According to the Mercer study, in financial services, women represent 67 percent of support staff, 46 percent of the managerial/professional level and 15 percent of the executive level staff (20 percent across industries). Women have lower promotion rates at all levels, and women have higher rates of attrition, especially at higher levels.
- Mercer isolated which factors most influenced the results for companies. Organizations whose leaders are committed to gender and organizations that have data proof points, review programs and track metrics are doing better.
- The EDGE Certification is a global assessment methodology and business certification for workplace gender equality, which includes more than 150 organizations in over 40 countries and 22 industries. It allows companies access to robust workforce analytics to benchmark themselves, and it provides an audited certification for employer and investor brand building.
- In Pakistan, 3 percent of women have bank accounts. HBL realized that women are essentially not served by banks; they are asked for their husbands’ permission to open accounts, and they are not considered serious about their careers. Branches were not a safe place for women employees.
- HBL determined the most important step to take to ensure success of the Women’s Market program was Gender Intelligence Training that would help staff understand women customers and recognize them as valuable.
- Focus group results revealed biases across all levels of the organization. Ninety-three percent of senior management was men. The IFC implemented a half-day workshop for all senior managers. Trainers were identified and trained to spread and integrate the message.
- The training counterbalanced specific biases found in focus groups with data on the female economy and opportunity, as well as scientific facts about brain wiring differences between males and females. It was delivered in a non-threatening and sensitive way, through open discussion, humor and role playing, and was tweaked along the way. There have been great challenges with reaching rural areas based on geography as well as a different gender culture, and they ultimately carried out much of the training on weekends. Regional competitions sped up the process, with 8,400 people initially trained, when the goal was 4,500.
- While HBL did not record baseline data, as KPIs were not considered until after the program had launched, measured results with a control group who did not participate in the training show that the training did indeed increase awareness and support for women. The number of accounts went up more in trained branches, and the size of deposits also increased more in trained branches.
- Even in Australia, unconscious bias is alive and well. Westpac’s Inclusion and Diversity journey was spearheaded by their CEO in the late 90s, who asked the other senior managers, “Where are the women?”
- Currently Westpac has a target of 50 percent of senior managers to be women (30 percent for the board). Gail Kelly, the first woman CEO in 2008, originally set a 30 percent target. Then she decided 40 percent was reasonable. Now women represent 46 percent of senior managers.
- Inclusion and Diversity is championed by the CEO at Wesptac. It is included in everyone’s scorecards, and pay is associated with scorecard results.
- Culture starts with the leadership team, and it is important to retain women employees. Westpac offers many relevant benefits, including paid parental leave for both genders and flexible working hours.
- Westpac’s tips are to watch for signals in attrition data, make sure the program is driven from the top, ensure the governance structure is tight, and embed it into everyone’s scorecards across the business.
- Ensuring men are not disenfranchised is important too; make sure men feel included in the journey.