I firmly believe that an inclusive culture enables businesses to attract and retain the widest pool of talent, which in turn will generate the most diverse thinking. This will lead to great products and the best customer experiences.
We have actually seen much higher levels of engagement with our inclusion agenda over the past couple of years, both from our colleagues and our customers. In 2013 we introduced ‘Our Values’: our first set of bank-wide values that guide everything we do.
These are: serving customers – we exist to serve customers. We earn their trust by focusing on their needs and delivering excellent service. Working together – we care for each other and work best as one team. We bring the best of ourselves to work and support one another to realise our potential. Doing the right thing – we take risk seriously and manage it prudently. We prize fairness and diversity, and exercise judgment with thought and integrity. Thinking long term – we know we succeed only when our customers and communities succeed. We do business in an open, direct, and sustainable way.
By threading inclusive thinking through our human capital life cycle – from the design of work to how we recognise and reward employees’ contribution – we have ensured inclusion becomes mainstream rather than an afterthought.
Our executive team has recently shown their commitment to diversity and inclusion by jointly sponsoring the roll out of bank-wide unconscious bias training. This is a key part of our strategy to understand and relate to staff and customers better. By helping our people to be aware of their personal preferences and biases we help them to manage their people well, make better decisions, and to deliver superior service – all of which benefits customers.
One of the business advantages of a diverse workforce is the generation of ideas. For instance, by introducing raised dots and a notch in the corner of bank cards, customers with sight impairments can now tell which card to use, and the direction it should be inserted at an ATM. This simple example demonstrates the benefits of working with our employees to deliver something that truly makes a difference. The expertise our ‘Enable’ representatives offered gave us real insights into the challenges that people with sight impairments have to deal with on a daily basis, and led to a product that is the first of its kind in the UK.
Similarly we are the first bank to have introduced fingerprint-activated access to our banking app, which has helped customers with memory impairments access their bank account details using the mobile app. If RBS didn’t think inclusively about its customers, or hadn’t valued its employees’ expertise, we might have missed these fantastic opportunities.
I’ve always supported inclusion and I really enjoy working in an organisation where it is given such prominence. The UK and the business world in general are becoming more diverse every day. For many people inclusion comes naturally, but for others it doesn’t. I think it’s important to recognise the efforts and difference that people make on a daily basis. We’re always looking at our processes and ensuring that they are as inclusive as possible.
Alison Rose is CEO of private and commercial banking at RBS