Promoting D&I is not just about making diverse hires, it’s also about being genuinely inclusive. Here are some key tips on dealing with the key challenges and opportunities.
It is often said that hiring practices in Asia are more conservative than in other regions. I was curious about how this might impact diversity and inclusion in the region, so I interviewed four leading female APAC-based risk management professionals from global financial services firms to get their views on the subject.
Are we seeing a shift in attitudes towards transferable skills, and could this help promote D&I? What the best ways to measure success when it comes to D&I? How can we use D&I to help companies drive a sense of purpose in a post-Covid world?
Here’s what they had to say.
Q: It’s probably reasonable to suggest that APAC in contrast to EMEA and the US has a tendency toward safe hiring with less of an openness to transferable skillsets. Are we seeing a shift in attitudes towards transferable skills? If not, what can we do to increase this?
A: In Asia we do tend to focus on experience more. And we do prefer to “plug and play” when it comes to hiring. I think there are two reasons that drive this approach:
- Asia’s been a growing market for a while and our hiring tends to follow the growth. We don’t have the flexibility and patience to be able to spend the time for someone to come up the curve.
- Each country in Asia is different and it takes a lot of time to understand the complexities and nuances of each.
This explains a part of the culture of safe hiring. What that means for us is we end up focusing on the relevant experience more than the relevant skillset. We need to balance this out more.
“You need people who can think differently to drive growth and innovation and that’s what you get when you think of hiring people with different experiences.”
We can’t get away entirely from thinking that some level of relevant experience is important. But the key term there is relevant.
When we talk about operational risk, is it a relevant experience for compliance? I’m sure you can find many such examples where the skillsets can actually be used fungibly between different roles. And that’s where balancing some of these differences with focus on different people’s skillset actually becomes important.
Interestingly when talking recently to the D&I lead at my organisation, she mentioned how she still uses skills she developed in her military career in her current role every day. This is where the conversation that we’ve had around cognitive diversity becomes relevant. You need people who can think differently to drive growth and innovation and that’s what you get when you think of hiring people with different experiences.
Q: How do we measure success when it comes to D&I and building successful diverse teams?
A: As a people manager the first thing you have to do is reflect on yourself, your skillset, your experience.
From that I look then at everything that differs from that, because from that contrast is where you get uniqueness of thought, you get challenged by your team, and so for me it’s been being very conscious of who you are and where you’re at.
“By the time somebody knows 90% of the job, they probably should be looking for their next one.”
Be conscious of who you’re seeking to recruit and why you’re seeking to recruit them. You want to look for capability. Has that person got the capability to learn the technical attributes of the job? You don’t necessarily want the expert on day one.
Years ago a former manager of mine said: “By the time somebody knows 90% of the job, they probably should be looking for their next one.”
He also used to say that by that point they’re probably not bringing their best to work because they’re getting a little bit complacent, they’re not thinking differently, etc.
Going back to the recruitment process, you should ask have we got the diversity coming through with the applicants – or on the panel itself?
“Who are the risk professionals of the future? How can we give people the relevant awareness of what skillsets they need to have?”
Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back if you really aren’t getting diversity in your applicants and ask why aren’t we?
Who are the risk professionals of the future? How can we give people the relevant awareness of what skillsets they need to have?
Are we being effective in training our people managers to be people managers? Give managers a toolkit to help them be effective. Are we having personal development discussions?
How should we be measuring success? Well, as bankers we love to be driven by data, but data is hard to get around this subject. Incorrect assumptions can also be made around the data you do bring through.
A measure of success for me is seeing diversity as you go through the chain of recruitment. If we start there we will see it on the back end. But it’s a long and continuing journey. Unconscious bias will also creep in, and we need to speak up. But start with recruitment.
Q: From a HR and talent acquisition perspective, how can HR work harmoniously with other control functions and front-office business functions to achieve these diversity and inclusion goals?
A: For recruitment, it’s really about looking at everything you’re saying and doing and where you’re advertising and making sure you’re not targeting a specific demographic based on unconscious bias.
“The hiring part is the first part of the journey, but then you’ve got to engage them and retain them and support them.”
This is wider than just the recruitment process, though. D&I has to be visible and has to underpin everything that you do when it comes to people and how you look after and engage them.
The hiring part is the first part of the journey, but then you’ve got to engage them and retain them and support them to speak up and share their opinions and get that diversity of thought around the table which is the point at the end of the day.
Q: How can we leverage what we’re talking about from a D&I perspective to help employees and employers find and deliver a sense of purpose?
A: Post-Covid, the way we do business is changing. Corporations have a big role to play here. It’s not only about being commercial anymore. Sense of purpose has started to grow and be considered as unavoidable. It’s not a trade-off; we can be commercial and be a bank but we can also care about the world we live in – globalisation, inequalities, decarbonisation. There is a role for us to play on these big questions.
Corporations realise this now because we have customers and communities we can’t do without. It’s important that we reconcile the two. For us diversity is a connector to the external world and having a sense of purpose is just the way we do business now. We need to reflect that in the workforce we have.
For more information about how to increase the diversity of your risk management team please contact Michelle Henry.