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What are you doing for workplace diversity? I’ll start.

By Rob Nicol, Chief Risk Officer at Siemens Financial Services (SFS)

My passion for D&I was instilled in me by my parents, who raised me to be inclusive by treating everybody as I would like to be treated and to embrace differences with curiosity rather than suspicion. Today, I do my best to pass on this mindset of openness and acceptance to my own kids and actively cultivate a positive work environment alongside my colleagues. As well as my role in the leadership team at SFS I am also a D&I group member, and I am committed to driving organisational change and making our business a more inclusive place.

In the workplace, it’s crucial that we think consciously about inclusion and representation, with a special responsibility falling on those of us in highly visible leadership roles. To take just one aspect of diversity, we know that the financial services sector is behind the curve in women representation. My colleague Jo Harris highlighted in her recent report “Who’s the boss? Diversity increases Profitability” that an alarming 43% of asset finance providers’ boards have no women members! Organisations with diverse leadership – of all kinds- are not only taking a step in the right direction towards a culture of fairness, openness and meritocracy, but studies show that they are more innovative, better performing and more profitable. I firmly believe that driving the ESG agenda including D&I increases employee engagement on many levels. It gives the business a sense of purpose over and above just the bottom line, while also making a real difference to the well-being of our employees and to the local community. Ultimately of course, businesses with engaged and committed employees will perform better financially anyway.

Whilst D&I has been in our organisation’s DNA for many years, along with the rest of our Industry, we are seeing a shift and an acknowledgement that it needs to be at the centre of a businesses’ strategy in order to create a sustainable future. It is becoming an issue for Regulators and investors rather than just for those of us who just believe it is the right thing to do. Shareholders are now taking as much interest in D&I as stakeholders and I believe it will increasingly play a key role in attracting and retaining the best available talent.

 So – you might ask – what are we doing to make SFS a more inclusive employer? This growing receptiveness in the business world has certainly made the task at hand much easier for us. In the past three years, we’ve been able to reduce the gender pay gap by 13% and we currently have more women in senior roles than ever before. This month, we’re celebrating the 1-year anniversary of BEAUT, a black-led employee network which has done so much already to support colleagues and open the floor to important conversations. We’re also proud to be certified as a disability confident employer and have a fantastic network called AMBITION which specifically offers support to individuals with invisible disabilities, allowing them to excel at work. Our LGBTQ+ network SPARK and Women’s Impact Programme definitely warrant mentions too! We apply a D&I mindset in everything we do – from recruitment and onboarding, through to reward and recognition.

We are by no means perfect and to better measure our progression we conduct an annual D&I survey of employees and recently, for the first time, we were externally assessed against an independent Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) standard which provides a structured, evidence-based approach to limiting barriers that may exist to achieving a diverse and inclusive organisation. We hope this framework and the feedback it provides will help the whole business build on our strengths and address our gaps. Progress in this area must also be done collectively as an industry – your success is our success!

To find out more about our D&I efforts, take a look here:

Image: enjoynz via Getty Images