Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s focus on diversity has had a positive impact on its staff and customers, according to the bank’s managing director of retail distribution, Catriona Noble.
This week, the bank announced an overhaul of its operations team with the business adopting an agile framework. The bank’s share price was also hit by the market following the announcement its “messy results” on Tuesday. However, its long-standing diversity program has delivered on a number of fronts.
Speaking on a panel about how diversity improves business at a Mumbrella breakfast event this week, Noble (on left in picture) spoke about the bank’s 10-year program which includes gender and ethnic targets as well as programs to support its gay, lesbian and trans-gender employees. The banks just reached a program milestone – now employing one thousand indigenous Australians.
“The program has been running for 10 years now and continues to have track record in terms of retention and engagement. In fact, engagement in our people is amazingly high. Effective recruitment and training is not only key to staff retention but on top of that; engaged employees offer a massive return on investment,” Noble said.
However, the program required a fundamental shift in mindset.
“The banks had to recognise that diversity is not something you do on the side. That is not sustainable. A shift in mindset was needed where the diversity strategy was a commercial part of the business and a pathway to being successful."
The program has also had a positive impact on innovation and consumer confidence, according to Noble.
“ANZ is smaller compared with the other big three banks and we have a lot of work to do to grow our market share and create disruption and innovation. To do this you need diversity across gender, experience and age,” she said.
Support for quotas
Diversity has also positioned the bank to work effectively with its customers from a myriad of backgrounds.
For example, its contact centres are filled with people who can speak different languages. Its branches are staffed by people who “reflect the communities they serve". This is important as, according to Noble, as there are nuances when it comes to the saving and borrowing habits of people from different countries.
“Our customers from Asia for example can’t be put in the same category. People from the various countries in Asia approach their finances differently and our teams across the branch network recognise that," she said.
The panel also discussed the role of gender quotas in driving greater diversity in organisations. Laura Demasi, research director of Ipsos Mind & Mood Report (pictured to the right of Noble), discussed the outcomes of a survey the business conducted with just over one thousand people.
“The majority of people prefer to work in a diverse workplace and are looking to employers to change things,” Demasi said.
The survey also found that 40 per cent of people supported gender quotas for senior management jobs, while one in two people believe there is a need for specific programs and policies to make sure workplaces are diverse.