Building a bank that better reflects the society we live in
What’s the reality of building a culture that champions equality and inclusion for our colleagues and clients? We explain how we’re moving forward on our journey to greater diversity.
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“We pride ourselves on being a purposeful, diverse and inclusive organisation,” said our CEO Peter Flavel earlier this year. To do that, we need to hold ourselves to account and actively encourage links, bonds, and connections among our black colleagues and the wider organisation. This ensures there are safe spaces to share experience, discuss issues and come up with solutions that will benefit both individuals and Coutts as a whole.
We understand that we are on a journey and need to do more to build diversity and inclusion for all our colleagues and improve what we do for clients and society. It is why we are involved in a number of diversity initiatives to create better opportunities and promote knowledge sharing. We are implementing these programmes because we believe a company must live its values to walk the talk. It is one of the reasons we became a B Corp, to hold ourselves to the highest environmental and societal standards. It is also why we believe that creating a great place to work that celebrates diversity and inclusivity is crucial to our, and our clients’ future success.
Mentoring is a two-way street
One initiative is our mentorship programme. Launched last year, the six-month programme is designed to support the development and career progression of employees from minority ethnic backgrounds across the Wealth business. The programme was set up in response to the finding that not all our colleagues felt they had equal opportunities to advance.
The programme recruited 46 mentors from senior leaders in the bank and 71 mentees who met regularly for open and honest discussion, support, and encouragement, with a working group monitoring their progress. The working group also put on two events: one focused on skills development and the other on the career paths of the mentees.
Feedback after the programme found that eight out of ten mentees now have a better understanding of what they need to do to progress in the organisation. Furthermore, 88% of mentors and mentees said they are likely to continue their mentoring relationship outside the programme. Indeed, for the upcoming scheme, we are introducing reverse mentoring, where the leaders themselves will be mentored by the mentees to give them insight into their experiences at various levels of the business.
“The mentoring programme has been really insightful and fulfilling with regards to developing my career aspirations, broadening my network, and creating a personal development plan that aligns with my aims. It also meant interacting with a colleague who I might not normally see on a day-to-day basis. It is a fantastic initiative,” said Coutts mentee Emma-Marie Okoroafor, Associate, Wealth Analyst – International Middle East, Asia & Africa.
“We pride ourselves on being a purposeful, diverse and inclusive organisation.”
Peter Flavel, Coutts
10,000 Black Interns Programme
The mentorship programme is not the only initiative we set up to address inequality of opportunity within our organisation. Coutts is one of more than 700 companies from 24 different sectors to be part of the 10,000 Black Interns programme. Collectively we are offering 2,000 work experience placements to recent graduates or A-Level students of Black African, Black Caribbean or Black British heritage.
Black Professionals Network and Wealth Multicultural Network
As part of the NatWest Group, we support the Black Professionals Network. The network provides well-being support and career development guidance to black colleagues across the bank, creating a safe space to share their unique lived experiences, develop their careers and uplift their local communities. The Black Professionals Network also focuses on supporting a more racially open, inclusive, and progressive culture within NatWest Group, including working with senior management to deliver on its representation targets and dismantling the systemic and behavioural barriers impeding the ability of black colleagues to fulfil their potential within the bank.
Similarly, the Wealth Multicultural Network works with senior management in Coutts to proactively support the recruitment, development, and retention of talented people from all backgrounds. The network also seeks to represent all cultures and faiths through celebrations and helping raise awareness to combat potential barriers.
We have very deliberately set a high bar for our organisation, and we understand that it is a continuous journey of learning and improvement and one that we are proud to be on.