Case study – Building a D&I Agenda: Our story and progress
AIB have had an equality policy in place since the mid 1990’s. However, there was little in the way of strategy behind it. We had a really good range of flexible working and employee policies but they weren’t always aligned with local business needs. We had a tangible “cliff” in female senior representation and major restructures at senior level had done nothing to change that. Investment in our people had stopped for a number of years but we were ready to get back to normal life and address the topic.
The business case was easily made – both the Board and Leadership Team gave their full support for action, and asked us to focus on gender as a priority. We made the conscious decision to move from Equality to Diversity and Inclusion. We established a Diversity Board, a group of senior volunteers committed to making real change, all of whom were in a position to effect that change through either leadership, or as part of their day job.
We started behind the scenes reviewing policies for key gaps; benchmarking ourselves with external practices and carrying out focus groups with various groups of employees to find out the real issues on the ground. We build a plan that would focus initially on just four themes, which we felt would have the greatest impact. In June 2015 we launched our new D&I policy under the banner of iMatter.
Our four levers for change were:
- Raising awareness – we all have views, some of which we are unaware of. How do we raise our awareness of our unconscious bias and translate them into inclusive leadership
- Improving our talent pipeline – we can do this by encouraging more diverse applications for roles, reviewing our selection processes, looking at how we staff working groups and business teams, how we build and encourage more diverse networks
- Smarter and more Agile Working - having good policies, technology and infrastructure that support a better blend in our lives. But more importantly it’s about an Agile Leadership style to make it work in our teams
- Minding the Gap – how do we ensure that periods of absence for family and caring needs particularly maternity leave, can be integrated into the career path and not seen as an exit/step back.
Some of the changes we put in place across 2015 and 2016:
- Diversity event for all senior leaders and launch of policy
- Formal partnering with AIB Women in Business Advisory Board
- 25% Gender Board Target 2016
- Networking sessions with talented female managers
- Focus sessions for staff – benefits of networking to develop business relationships
- Understanding your career sessions in the UK
- New Agile Working policy launched
- Simplification and re-launch of flexible working policies
- Extended parental leave policy launched
- Back to work sessions with new mums leading to a range of operational changes and guides for maternity leave
- Improved GB maternity pay arrangements
- Metrics on 50: 50 applicants for roles
- Review of external advertising methods
- Establishment of volunteer interview panel for better gender representation
- Unconscious bias training for circa 400 senior leaders
By end of 2016 we had put the agenda on the map. There was strong senior support for what we are trying to achieve and we had put the infrastructure in place. The initiatives we had done had been well received and our four themes were standing firm. Employees believed we want to do something on this agenda and had shown that in our employee survey. Our customers were showing interest in the agenda. However, there was a strong demand to move beyond gender. We had still little in the way of external profile and needed greater action and commitment around senior talent, more “volunteers/advocates” and to move beyond Dublin.
In 2017 a broader plan was launched through a dedicated Diversity Week. This included a public launch of our gender target of 40% with positive media interest. We undertook a social media campaign to raise external awareness using twitter and Linked In. We ran 9 training sessions on unconscious bias across the country for more that 600 people leaders and hiring managers with really positive feedback from every attendee. Networking events were held in Cork, Galway and Dublin for more than 450 colleagues and customers. Across the majority of head office locations we ran topics aligned to the theme of the day including sessions on the young and the relentless, conquering imposter syndrome, better parenting, leaning in and agile working. More than 1500 employees voted for their preference in network groups – six to be established focusing on Women, Families, Pride, Abilities, Men and Roots.
For 2017-2018 what’s next?
- For senior leader engagement there will be training on inclusive leadership, a focus on senior succession plans and building advocacy across our senior leaders.
- For employee resources groups we will focus on embedding the groups and engaging them into action.
- Internally and externally we will tell our diversity story and raise awareness using a “finding my voice” campaign .
- We will also track progress by continuing to focus on gender targets and establishing employee data for the key areas of focus.
- Finally we will establish a longer term vision whereby every employee can bring the best of themselves to work each day and we reflect the customer base that we serve.
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