How ‘embedding’ diversity helps Deutsche Bank recruit the best talent

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Job seekers in the banking sector these days are looking for more than just better salaries, benefits and titles – they want to work somewhere where they “fit in” and can thrive on the job as a result.

“I’m even an example of this new attitude myself,” says Guelabatin Sun, Deutsche Bank’s global head of diversity and inclusion. “I’m of Turkish background and when I joined Deutsche Bank I saw just how diverse it is. We have around 140 nationalities here and that made me feel very comfortable.”

Sun says she’s not alone in thinking along these lines – financial professionals increasingly want their employer to better reflect the cities and countries they are living in. “You don’t want to be in a team at work where everyone else is just from one single demographic.”

Candidates in the current competitive job market are paying much closer attention to the effectiveness of employers’ diversity strategies, says Sun. “At Deutsche Bank, when we talk about diversity, it’s not just something to make our brand look nice on paper. It’s something that directly affects our ability to hire the best talent because more people, especially the younger generation, are now choosing companies where they think they will be a good fit.”

This is where the second part of Sun’s job title – ‘inclusion’ – kicks in. “Hiring a diverse range of people is only part of the equation – inclusion is what banks make out of their diversity, how they encourage collaboration within a diverse workforce. We’ve found that in an inclusive work environment you perform better, you’re more innovative, make more balanced decisions, and understand customers better.”

Embedding diversity

Sun says Deutsche Bank is going through a root and branch review of its diversity and inclusion policies to ensure they are “embedded” not just at the recruitment stage but across everything HR-related – from promotion to training. “To embed diversity throughout the bank, we need to have good governance and clear processes in place. We can’t just say ‘yes’ to an idea and expect 100,000 employees to buy into it.”

Senior managers must now, for example, choose from a range of annual diversity goals contained within an ‘objectives library’. “They might set a percentage target to increase gender diversity in their team over time – giving them objectives increases the accountability of our leaders to diversity,” says Sun. “While managers may buy into diversity, often they don’t always know exactly how to achieve it – the library is one of the resources that show them how.”

Deutsche Bank is also trying to address the sector-wide problem of not enough women making it to managing director by targeting those just below that rank. Its Women Global Leaders programme, run in conjunction with INSEAD Business School, is designed to help director-level female staff make the step up. “The course focuses on their career development and lets us understand their individual training needs,” explains Sun.

After five years of running the programme about half the participants have already been promoted and retention rates are double the average for women at that level. “In the banking sector there’s often a lack of senior female role models, which can stop younger women advancing. So we need to help women make themselves more ‘visible’ within organisations so they get onto lists for succession planning, for instance. The Women Global Leaders programme does that because it gives them access to very senior executives.”

Creating transparency

There’s another key reason why Deutsche Bank is fast becoming a more diverse and inclusive place to work – Sun sums it up in one word: “transparency”.

“Transparency of information is vital for succession planning as it pinpoints which business areas we need to hire for and promote in. If you don’t have transparency, you can’t focus your resources on where they’re most needed and you won’t achieve solutions. It also means we can tailor different diversity tools for different departments because we know their individual issues.”

Sun says challenges remain for women in the finance sector. “For those with young children, working hours can be a problem in some areas like investment banking. And so is the emphasis some managers have on ‘presenteeism’– they think the person who works 10 hours a day in the office is always better than the one who works partly at home, even if their results don’t reflect this. A mindset shift is needed in the industry.”

Deutsche Bank is developing practical policies to help women with young families. “We even have a training programme for managers whose employees are expecting a child. When you walk into your boss’ office and say ‘I’m pregnant and I want to go on leave’ often they don’t know how to react properly. We’re aiming to change that by giving managers access to training.”

Diversity and inclusion will only become more important to employers in the future, adds Sun. “In many developed countries, for example, there’s a looming workforce crisis as an aging population creates real gaps in the availability of skilled talent. In the past employers could choose between candidates, soon it will be the reverse. That’s why we need to give everyone equal access to opportunities.”

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