BNP Paribas’ Diversity Policy is not limited to Human Resources Management processes. Throughout the world, the Group implements concrete, visible measures applicable to all employees.
Agreements that support the Diversity Policy
In France, BNP Paribas has taken specific steps to demonstrate its commitment to Diversity by signing a number of agreements on the following topics:
- Equality in the workplace between women and men: monitoring indicators regarding these agreements, published annually in the report “Professional equality between women and men”
- People with disabilities: in 2008, a corporate agreement was concluded for a period of 4 years and renewed in 2012
- Agreement in favour of employment of seniors (2013-2015) based on three pillars: maintaining jobs, career and end of career management.
Professional Training to Fight against Stereotypes
The issue of Diversity is addressed at management and human resources seminars organised for the entire Group. Since 2007, a dedicated one-day training seminar called “Managing Diversity: a performance issue” has been held to educate HR professionals and managers alike about the challenges of Diversity and the risk of discrimination in their professional practice.
Today, nearly 8,000 employees have been trained worldwide through various training courses (held in Belgium, the US, France, the UK, Switzerland, Luxembourg, to name but a few).
Favouring Professional Equality between Women and Men
BNP Paribas, committed to helping women attain managerial positions, has fixed a new objective: 25% of women in Senior Management Positions as of 2014. The objective of 20% fixed for 2012 has been reached and exceeded.
In December 2011, a woman executive who had spent her entire career with BNP Paribas became a member of the Group Executive Committee. She has been named head of French Retail Banking (2,200 branches and over 32,000 staff), constituting a strong statement. Women also have significant representation on the Group’s Board of Directors, which currently counts six women directors.
Equality in the workplace is supported by the General Management, Human Resources and managers alike. In 2011, the Group demonstrated its commitment to this issue by signing the United Nations Charter of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), which makes recommendations for promoting the role of women in society and business.
Innovative Measures to Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
BNP Paribas fosters an environment in which all employees can achieve their full potential, as demonstrated by the creation of concierge services, special leave, flexible working hours and more. Other measures have been implemented in this area, particularly with respect to parenting: in signing the Parenting Charter in 2008, BNP Paribas France confirmed its commitment to providing employees who have children with an environment that is better suited to family responsibilities (day-care facilities, organising “Family Days” for children to learn more about the places where their parents work, etc).
A People with Disabilities Policy to Promote Employment and Integration
Following its first agreement signed in 2008, BNP Paribas reinforces its commitment by signing a second agreement in favour of people with disabilities for the period 2012-2015 based on 4 axes:
- recruitment and integration
- maintaining disabled people in their jobs
- training and awareness
- development of the recourse to the protected and adapted sector
Various networks have been created for sharing, discussing and proposing a wide range of measures. Since 2004, the BNP Paribas MixCity Association has brought female managers together around the theme of equality in the workplace and the professional advancement of women.
Other networks have emerged around various other themes in several countries, as in the United States and in the UK : ethnic (“BAME”, “Respect”), LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) or parenting communities.
Evaluating to Act More Effectively
The Diversity Policy is subject to regular assessments that ensure that it is implemented effectively:
- Audits and diagnostics are performed by external firms to ensure that no discriminatory practices remain
- Employees are consulted each year through the internal “Global People Survey” regarding their perception of the Group in general and the Diversity Policy in particular
- A monitoring tool towards the managers, enabling them to measure the progress on three managerial strategic goals included Diversity Management
Nancy Marquez, an American of Puerto Rican descent, worked at JP Morgan for 20 years before joining BNP Paribas in Bahrain as HR Director for the Middle East. A two-fold challenge…
“We tend to view women in the Middle East through the prism of history, religion and clothing, but it’s amazing to see how powerful and respected they are in their workplaces,” she said. “Just because you wear a veil doesn’t mean that you’re silent or that you have nothing to say.” Half of the bank’s employees in the Middle East are women, and Nancy Marquez was struck by their openness, dynamism and effectiveness.
Promoting Equal Career Opportunities for Men and Women
However, not everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds… In the Middle East, as elsewhere, the lack of women in top management positions is an ongoing concern that she intends to address forcefully. “The US is ahead of Europe with respect to diversity – it’s a characteristic that has been inherent in their culture since the beginning,” she said. Nancy Marquez is the first and only female member of the Regional Executive Committee. For this American lady who has travelled the world, from the United States to South Africa by way of Spain, this is a situation that must change.
MixCity, an Association Designed to “Educate Mindsets”
In Bahrain, she has taken over the reins of the Steering Committee, established in 2010 following the path forged by the BNP Paribas MixCity Association, the Group’s community of women’s networks. Composed of eight women and four men, the Committee was first tasked with identifying the problems and demands of women. Their goal was to understand the culture of women in the Middle East, which is very different from one country to another, rather than jump to hasty conclusions based on Western perceptions. The Committee has launched several initiatives to help women move up the hierarchy, particularly in terms of training. In 2011, political events in the Arab countries have, unfortunately, led to a delay in pursuing these initiatives.
Nancy Marquez’s aim is to raise awareness and to “educate” all of the teams with respect to diversity. For example, when she viewed the bank’s Middle East advertising campaign, she immediately pointed out to her senior managers that the campaign featured no women whatsoever. “It wasn’t intentional, and it certainly wasn’t malicious; it was simply that no one had paid attention to the issue”, she said.
For Suresh Subramanian, Managing Director in New York, enormous progress has been made in terms of Diversity. But the hardest step still remains: for ethnic minorities to break through into the ranks of the bank’s top management.
“What I bring to the bank is based in part on who I am: my origins and my career history”, he explained. “This is where the strength of diversity lies: in contributing different ideas and solutions.” As a graduate of a top-ranking business school in India, Suresh Subramanian joined BNP Paribas in the corporate banking sector in India in the early 90s. He then spent four years in Paris as the Head of Mission for the General Inspection department before moving to New York, where he is now the Global Head of Sales for Global Transaction Banking (GTB) and the Regional Head for GTB in the Americas.
A Network Serving the Asian Community
A founding member of the US Diversity Council, in 2010, Suresh became the Executive Champion of the Asian Business Networking Group, which represents Asian employees in the United States. Like similar networking groups within the Group for Hispanics, women and homosexuals, this group aims to support the professional and personal development of Asian employees, to promote a better understanding of their cultures and to facilitate their integration into the company. “Today we find these structures in most large American companies”, said Suresh Subramanian. “During recruitment interviews, we are often asked to explain our diversity policy and how it facilitates the integration of minorities”. With more than one hundred members, the group organises conferences and cultural events. It is also working to help the Asian community cultivate mutually beneficial relationships outside of the work hierarchy.
As Executive Champion of the Asian
Promoting Diversity at the Top Management Level
Nearly 20 years after his arrival at BNP Paribas, he believes that tremendous progress has been made in terms of diversity. With operations in more than 80 countries worldwide, BNP Paribas’ workforce reflects this internationalisation. But top management is still noticeably “Eurocentric”. “The true test of diversity is that exceptionally talented individuals, wherever they may come from, can realistically hope to reach the top of the company if the company makes the effort to retain them.”