In the banking industry, fostering equality and inclusion has emerged as a critical mission in organisation’s workforce strategies today.

Employees and job seekers increasingly desire workplaces where they can truly be themselves, feel valued for their work, and recognised for their skills and contributions, regardless of their appearance or personal beliefs.

achieving diversity and inclusion in the banking sector
achieving diversity and inclusion in the banking sector

According to Randstad Singapore’s 2023 Employer Brand Research, 21% of respondents said that they would rather be unemployed than work for a company that does not align with their personal values.

However, employers face challenges in keeping up with these changing expectations and creating inclusive workplaces. The path toward full inclusivity is not always straightforward, as biases and stereotypes persist, often hidden from view.

The challenge itself is to resolve an invisible issue. Unless these negative experiences are made known, business leaders may never be clear if they are investing their resources in the right places. Unfortunately, when these issues do come to light, they may sometimes be too late.

the assumptions and challenges that we have faced so far

The transformation towards a more diverse and equitable workplace hinges on effective leadership - a management approach towards comprehending equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) and translating this understanding into actionable strategies.

While ensuring a diverse representation in the workplace is a step towards the right direction, it may not solve deep-rooted issues like the gender pay gap or development biases. Moreover, people may not feel safe speaking out or connecting with their colleagues on a more personal level.

For example, many people assume that diversity and inclusion matters more to younger generations. However, 64% of respondents aged 55 and older feel that they have been excluded from training opportunities. 31% of Gen-Zers and young Millennials would also avoid interacting with Baby Boomers at work.

This exclusion prevents vital conversations and changes that can make workplaces more inclusive and personal, perpetuating discrimination.

randstad roundtable with DBS
randstad roundtable with DBS
Dane Lim, Executive Director of Group Human Resources at DBS, and Mark Li, Head of Client Solutions at Randstad Singapore

During our roundtable discussions with 20 attendees from the banking and financial sector, Dane Lim, Executive Director of Group Human Resources at DBS, and Mark Li, Head of Client Solutions at Randstad Singapore, shared insights on how business leaders can simplify complex issues to take actionable steps toward a more engaged and inclusive workforce.

don’t neglect the importance of building broad-based capabilities

Even though we may not always know the true underlying reason why inclusivity is not present at work, simple initiatives like building broad-based knowledge and capabilities can go a long way towards reaching your diversity and inclusion goals.

Educating your employees about the right questions to ask and the right words to use creates a respectful environment. It also creates a platform where people are more open and willing to listen and speak out, so that more barriers can be removed.

3 key takeaways from randstad singapore’s employer branding roundtable

Here are the three key takeaways from our insightful roundtable event.

1. use data and feedback to guide your conversations

Data often reveals underlying issues that may not be apparent on the surface, and they play an instrumental role in guiding leaders to initiate candid and impactful conversations.

Consider this scenario - an in-depth data analysis on your workforce reveals a seemingly balanced gender representation within the company, yet there is a significant decline in the number of women as they move up their careers. This revelation then prompts a critical question: why are women not progressing into leadership roles?

Many different factors underlie this phenomenon. Some women might feel limited by the glass ceiling, while others may seek greater support for flexibility to navigate the demands of motherhood alongside their aspirations for female leadership.

The answer to this question hinges on the quality of engagement between leaders and employees. At DBS, employees can submit their questions or share their experiences anonymously on an online portal and the leadership team, including the CEO, will address them directly.

And while anonymity was a consideration on the HR team’s ability to address issues, cultivating a sense of psychological safety is more important in contributing to a more authentic and actional dialogue that can lead to visible outcomes.

2. conduct group discussions to peel the layers and unveil more insights

The outcomes of the employer-employee dialogue often depend on how much information business leaders have at the end of it, and what they can do about it.

inclusivity in the banking industry
inclusivity in the banking industry

Leaders and managers need to be able to ask the right questions to read beyond the surface and delve deeper into the feedback. When prompted in the right direction within a safe environment, leaders will be able to understand why the issue is important to them and what improvements they hope to see. 

Even though having one-on-one discussions is more appropriate when dealing with highly sensitive and personal matters, group discussions can sometimes uncover more insights. There is safety in numbers as they feel less vulnerable because they are not alone in expressing their thoughts or concerns.

They may also find comfort knowing that they have the opportunity to receive feedback and encouragement from colleagues who share their perspectives, leading to more open discussions and exchange of ideas. This collaboration is also helpful to the business, as they can lead to more comprehensive problem-solving and innovative ideas.

DBS regularly conducts ask-me-anything town halls between employees and the leadership team, as well as with their CEO.

3. inclusivity means including everyone in the conversation

Ironically, the efficacy of ED&I initiatives rests on inclusivity. It is through bringing people with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences together that can help foster a stronger sense of community.

For example, initiatives focused on women might naturally cater to their specific needs and challenges, which may not be fully understood by others. Addressing gender diversity should be done in a way that welcomes men into the conversation. Keeping that door open to men can encourage them to become better colleagues, supporters of female co-workers and allies of women leaders.

This same approach applies to anyone who has a different view - be it LGBTQ+ or fresh graduates. By creating an environment where diverse viewpoints co-exist, organisations can leverage the richness of varied experiences to drive positive change.

the journey will be challenging, but the rewards will be immeasurable

In the banking industry, where innovation and adaptability are cornerstones of success, driving equality and inclusion through effective leadership is critical. Without diversity in thoughts, innovation and creativity will take a backseat in all of your strategies.

By embracing data-driven conversations, fostering unfiltered insights, and designing inclusive initiatives, HR professionals can steer their organisations towards a more equitable and inclusive future. The journey will be challenging, but the rewards - in terms of employee satisfaction, retention, and organisational growth - will be immeasurable.

download the 2023 employer brand research report: banking & financial services industry

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At Randstad, we help organisations become more successful in attracting and retaining top talent. Through our global research like Employer Brand Research and Workmonitor, as well as local research and market mapping, we deliver the latest insights to inform your workforce strategies.

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