BACB’s Women’s Network: inclusion means everyone is involved

Posted on 03/08/2022

BACB Together

“What does inclusion mean?” asks Dolunay Grieve, Head of Programme Delivery at BACB. The question has been on the tip of the tongue of many businesses in recent years, as they look to improve their culture, boost their diversity credentials, and nurture a healthier work environment.

For BACB, this means creating a company-wide cultural shift that starts with celebrating and valuing women in the workplace.

One of the key initiatives introduced at BACB as part of their Diversity & Inclusion work is the Women’s Network, an internal scheme that encourages female empowerment and inclusion across every level of the bank. Dolunay speaks passionately about how the network was built upon promoting women into senior leadership positions by developing them, both professionally and personally.

In a bid to support the professional development of colleagues, the Women’s Network aims to provide training and development initiatives across the company and moreover, has facilitated BACB to join the Women in Business & Finance (WIBF) mentoring scheme. This allows ten BACB employees to be mentored by senior industry experts in a range of skills and competencies, as well as helping them to gain valuable connections and industry insights. The programme also allows an unlimited number of BACB staff to volunteer as mentors for other staff in the industry, with many of the bank’s senior executive team having already signed up. Demonstrating the significance of the network’s goals, CEO Eddie Norton signed up as a mentor on the WIBF programme, proving his commitment to the professional development of employees both internally and externally.

Furthermore, it aims to embed networking opportunities for women in company culture, holding inclusive sessions during the working day, deliberately catering for those with other responsibilities that may prevent them from attending impromptu after-work social events.

As well as these practical, business-focused objectives, the network aims to create a safe space for women to discuss often overlooked issues, supporting an already-established culture of openness and trust within the company. The inclusive scheme reaches across genders, encouraging all members of the BACB team to rethink their approach to colleagues in the workplace and any unconscious bias they may harbour. To fully embrace the Diversity & Inclusion principles, it is critical that the senior male leadership have an awareness of their responsibility to both recognise and promote women to join them at the top table, providing them with an equal voice. So far, every network session has encompassed all genders, whose active participation reflects their commitment.

The network has organised and hosted several events with external speakers, panels and talks relating to women’s empowerment in the workplace. One recent event focused on the menopause, and how this affects women in the workplace. The entrenched taboo surrounding menopause leading some attendees to admit to never previously discussing it in the workplace; the session provided colleagues with the opportunity to talk about their experiences in a safe and understanding environment. It also encouraged other (male) colleagues to ask personal questions to get a better understanding of the menopause effect in the work environment and how both themselves and the bank can support colleagues that are going through menopause. The feedback will be incorporated in BACB’s Wellbeing policy.

Diversity is a broad topic, and care has been taken to ensure that the network is truly inclusive. All employees are encouraged to attend the sessions held by the network, with sessions held both in person and on zoom. Diversity in speakers is also encouraged, a recent panel discussion focused on returning to work after parental leave saw male and female colleagues sharing their stories. This created organic, emotional connections amongst employees, and brought attention to an important topic that can sometimes be overlooked by diversity and inclusion programmes.

Dolunay says the aim of the network and surrounding initiatives is to ultimately create a culture whereby no employee feels at risk when they bring their whole selves to work.

Across the board, employee engagement with the Women’s Network has been overwhelmingly positive. At each of the talks, conversations around personal experiences have served to strengthen existing bonds, creating an environment where colleagues feel safe and supported in expressing their emotions and needs in the workplace. The bank prides itself on maintaining a friendly working environment, where colleagues are approachable and accessible regardless of seniority or topic; this work helps to build on the strong foundations that already exist within BACB’s company culture.

The Women’s Network and BACB’s diversity and inclusion strategy are fully supported by its parent group the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB). In an interview with Dolunay for International Women’s Day, LFB Chairman Mohammed Addarrat spoke of the importance of women in leadership roles, stressing the need for women being empowered to participate on an equal footing with their male colleagues. Watch the full interview here.

Several future events are being planned, the next coinciding with National Inclusion Week, and others to include discussions on women’s health topics, and a speed-networking event for colleagues with senior leaders.

BACB is proud of its work promoting inclusion and diversity, supporting women across the industry. The creation of a Women’s Network is part of a wider programme of change in the Banks’ culture and conduct, which has been running at BACB for over a year. Under the oversight of a Conduct and Culture Steering Group this work has established a new purpose statement for the Bank, new values and behaviours, an improved risk culture, and assisted the transition to hybrid working.





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