GBA Working Group Explores the Business Imperative of D&I

Wednesday 7th February 2018

In the past several years, gender diversity has morphed from a corporate feel-good measure into a real business imperative. But as a wave of studies makes the the bottom-line case for supporting women in leadership ever clearer, women are still underrepresented in much of the financial services sector – particularly in the C-suite.

In response to strong member demand, the GBA launched its Working Group on Gender Diversity & Inclusion in October 2017 in collaboration with shared value consulting firm FSG. Made up of 60 business leaders, Human Resources staff and D&I specialists from 26 financial institutions, the group meets on a monthly basis to share case examples of how to recruit, retain and advance women, and establish how this improves the banks’ capacity to effectively serve the Women’s Market.

The first Working Group call on establishing the business case was followed by a session on diagnosing the current and future state of gender D&I within an institution by availing of best practice tools. Guest speaker Alina Polonskaia, who leads Mercer’s Global Leader of Diversity & Inclusion Client Networks, shared how the company’s When Women Thrive tool is used by organizations to understand representation and talent flows, dissect practices and policies relating to gender D&I, and understand the employee experience, including harder to measure elements like company culture. The group also discussed the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles and its Gender Gap Analysis Tool, which assesses a company’s strategic approach to gender equality and helps identify gaps and areas of opportunity. The results of such diagnostics can be an effective call to action for an organization, helping to focus it on specific gender diversity and inclusion priorities, and enabling measurement on progress against the baseline.

The third of nine sessions took place last month, during which Heather Melville OBE, Director for Strategic Partnerships and Head of Business Inclusion Initiatives at the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), spoke about her pioneering approach for building awareness and personal commitment to gender diversity across the bank in an effort to create a more inclusive workplace for women. She noted that creating compassionate leaders who drive change and bringing men onboard with gender D&I are critical to success. Heather also discussed how she established RBS’s Focused Women’s Network, supporting women to develop as leaders within the bank, and the importance of setting internal targets that business leaders across the bank are accountable for.

Continuing through July of 2018, the remaining six sessions of the Working Group will support GBA members to overcome challenges they are facing in hiring, retaining and advancing women within their organizations. It will conclude with a focus on effective monitoring and evaluation processes, including linkages to business performance and specifically to the Women’s Market.

We are delighted with members’ enthusiastic response to this topic and for the groundbreaking best practices they are exhibiting. Any GBA member that is interested in participating should email for more information.