Helping communities to thrive
ANZ’s purpose is to shape a world where people and communities thrive. The bank’s approach to diversity and inclusion is one way it brings this purpose to life, enabling the social and economic participation of all its stakeholders – customers, employees, and the wider community.
“We have what I think is a powerful method to support diversity and inclusion, because it is a combination of top-down and bottom-up,” explains Kathryn van der Merwe, ANZ’s Melbourne-based group executive, talent and culture.
The top-down approach starts with ANZ’s chief executive and executive committee – which is notably made up of 50 percent women – who fundamentally believe in the power of diversity, van der Merwe adds.
This is in combination with a bottom-up approach of strong employee networks for diverse groups such as gender equality, LGBTIQ+, abilities, cultural diversity and mental health.
“These are groups of employees with a shared passion that creates a wonderful sense of community. Many of our initiatives are generated by these groups and they are incredibly important as they are led by passionate people,” van der Merwe explains.
Van der Merwe highlights the bank’s Pride Network as an example that has been in operation for many years and was born out of employee drive.
The ANZ Pride Network first participated in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in 2007 and its advocacy for LGBTIQ+ inclusion ultimately led to ANZ becoming principal partner and developing the ANZ Sydney Mardi Gras Community Grants. These provide financial funding for education and training, community development and creation, and arts and culture. The bank’s employee networks self-manage and self-govern while typically being sponsored by an executive leader to help support the network’s profile.
RETURN TO WORK
ANZ is committed to building a diverse and inclusive workforce and increasing the representation of women in leadership. A key focus is to accelerate the pipeline of technology talent. Carina Parisella, group technology initiatives lead at ANZ in Melbourne, is leading the charge on a range of bank programmes including those focused on women in technology. Her role combines strengthening diversity and innovation.
On International Women’s Day in March 2019, ANZ launched its Return to Work programme. This targets individuals looking to reignite their careers having had a break of more than two years. It focuses on building confidence and support networks by providing a platform to re-enter the workforce in meaningful and flexible roles that leverage employees’ experience and skills.
“Through looking at the problem from the lens of working mothers and individuals who have taken career breaks for different reasons, we were able to design a programme that genuinely talked to the challenges and barriers in returning to work,” Parisella explains.
Had ANZ used traditional methods of recruitment it may not have uncovered this untapped talent, she argues. Instead, the bank used recruitment methods focused on genuine connections, and in doing so generated more than 640 applications in three weeks. From this first cohort, ANZ has hired 30 highly skilled individuals in roles across the business – the majority in group technology.
Bolanle Ugbode, Melbourne-based operations analyst, group technology at ANZ, was a successful applicant to the programme after looking for a suitable role for around 18 months. The extended duration of her job search tested her positive outlook. She comments: “You start to imagine you’re just not enough – when you really are.”
Ugbode believes ANZ found her and encouraged her to bring “her whole self” to work. “I can embrace who I am as a woman, as a Black woman, as a mother, as an African-American. Whatever it is, I’m able just to show up as who I am and I’m here ready to work.”
She finds seeing women in positions of leadership inspiring. “My boss is female and is an incredible leader, and I look across the room at the head of one of our major initiatives, who is also female. This demonstrates to me that the company values having a female voice at the table, which tells me they value me as a person.”
Ugbode says ANZ’s Return to Work programme has also given her eldest daughter the ability to see not just dad going to work but mum too. “Anyone can do any type of job,” she says. “Anyone can achieve what they set out to achieve, as long as they put their minds to it.”
Parisella explains: “The programme sits within the technology division, which also leads the Spectrum programme for autistic people and the Microsoft TAFE traineeship – all designed to help people and communities thrive.”
ANZ also recognises the power of encouraging and embedding diversity and inclusion into its supply chain. In particular, it has been focusing on its Indigenous procurement strategy.
Cleaning services are playing a critical role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and one, Vivid Indigenous Services, is helping achieve economic independence for Indigenous Australians as well as providing impeccable cleaning services.
Vivid Indigenous Services and its sister company provide cleaning services to ANZ branches in the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and the Northern Territory, and have recently expanded to include Queensland via ANZ’s building services manager, JLL.
The expansion into Queensland provided a spike in employment opportunities for Indigenous communities across the state – and the initiative links back to ANZ’s Reconciliation Action Plan through increased engagement with Indigenous-owned businesses. With the expansion also came an added opportunity to increase funding and a greater ability to invest in the community.
ANZ is in the process of reviewing its diversity and inclusion strategy, van der Merwe tells KangaNews. However, she emphasises that the review is not because of COVID-19. “It is just that it has been in place for a couple of years now, so it is time to look at it through fresh eyes.”
Even so, having diversity and inclusion as an important goal within the institution means ANZ is conscious of the impact the current situation is having on different groups of people. In particular, the bank is aware of the disproportionate impact it is having on some.
“The sense is, and our data is telling us, that working parents with young children are finding this situation particularly challenging, and it is unfortunately disproportionally affecting women. So we are dialling up support and targeting it to those groups,” van der Merwe explains.
She adds that it has been pleasing to see how quickly the bank was able to adapt to the current situation. “A lot of this has come down to the foundations we have been laying over the past few years around adopting agile ways of working and helping equip our leaders to connect to their team members, therefore creating clarity within teams. It has been great to see our employees digging into their toolkits to help ANZ navigate through this time.”
Van der Merwe also calls out the depth of connections she notices has formed within teams. “There are stronger connections than before in my team because people are sharing their personal challenges and we are all helping each other. This is something I am confident we will all benefit from on the other side.”
Van der Merwe says there is no doubt ANZ as an organisation has learned valuable lessons from the pandemic. “Employees can do even more from home than we previously thought and now we are staring at this question of what it will mean for us going forward.”
ANZ’s solution must be adaptable, given the strong likelihood that the environment will continue to change even in the near term. It also has to be appropriate for ANZ. Acknowledging that working from home for more of the time can be draining, van der Merwe says the key will be striking the right balance between the work people can do at home and the work they do better together.
“We believe that, whatever way we end up working, it will have to continue to deliver great outcomes for our customers. We believe in the power of teams and in innovating and creating together rather than as individuals. We want people to form a connection to ANZ and to our purpose, and this is shaping our thinking about what this will mean for us at ANZ.”
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