“At BBVA, there are more than 100,000 people working in over 25 countries, with a wide range of different cultures, experiences, beliefs, languages, etc. This diversity is a fundamental part of the recipe to our success, and it will make us stronger to face the challenges and opportunities that lie before us,” said BBVA Chairman Carlos Torres Vila at the main event of the bank’s Diversity Days, a series of internal events being held for the second year in a row to share important advances in terms of diversity and inclusion, and to create a space for learning for all of the Group’s employees.
It has been a year now since BBVA announced that diversity and inclusion were being incorporated into its business objectives. Significant progress has been made since then. The bank has held the Diversity Days in order to keep employees updated on all of these changes with over 30 workshops, inspiring talks and activities designed for the entire workforce. “Since 2018, we have developed a global diversity plan with different lines of action - mainly focused on gender diversity, but without overlooking other angles like ethnicity, different generations, different abilities, gender identity and sexual orientation,” Torres Vila explained.
In order to identify the needs of each group and propose action plans, the bank is using the figure of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) - a form of intrapraneurship in which the employees come together on their own initiative to promote diversity, affinity and the value of personal relationship among people with common interests. Currently, 16 working groups around the world monitor aspects like gender, different abilities, young and senior talent, racial ethnicities or LGBTIQ+ people. In fact, regarding the latter, the initiative Be Yourself, created a little over two years ago, demonstrates the success of working on diversity in this format. It started as a small group and in little time has become a reference both within the bank (exporting projects to other countries in the Group) and outside of the organization (managing to preside over REDI, the largest business organization for LGTBIQ+ issues in Spain).
The goal is clear: to create an inclusive working group so that everyone feels free to contribute with their differences and take advantage of the wealth of these diversities to learn and innovate. “The opportunities connected to the major disruptions of our time related to digitization, data and sustainability require us to face them from different perspectives, and to rely on the value of our ideas more than ever before, without taking into account people’s gender or place of origin,” said the bank’s Chairman.
Commitment to female talent
“32 percent of the bank’s leadership positions are currently held by women. However, in these leadership positions we are still far from the 50 percent of women who work at BBVA,” commented the Chairman. On a quarterly basis both he and the CEO review data on female promotions at different levels of the organization in order to examine whether the measures that have been applied are producing positive results.
Promoting gender diversity is a priority line of work for the bank, more specifically in the technology field. A remarkable initiative on this aspect is the project that BBVA is developing with the Adalab school specialized in technology training for women in order to incorporate those who have reoriented their profession to the technological world. Aware that the gender gap in the technology field is a problem that affects society as a whole, the bank has participated in education initiatives that aim to inspire girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Of these initiatives, the global agreement with Inspiring Girls to give visibility to female leaders among young girls stands out, as do the workshops for employees’ children in collaboration with #girlsgonna and Technovation to give them a closer look at the technology world. Another remarkable example is Garanti BBVA’s Women Entrepreneur program in Turkey. For 15 years now, it has been supporting women entrepreneurs with financing, payment solutions, financial education and networking.
An inclusive place where there is room for everyone
Although gender diversity is the top priority for the bank, during Diversity Days, projects were presented that are making a difference in other fields. This is the case of the initiative with Specialisterne on neurodiversity, through which people on the autism spectrum have joined engineering teams. Another example is the pilot program carried out in collaboration with the Eulen Special Center on Employment through which 18 people with mental disabilities are working as receptionists and janitors at BBVA’s headquarters.
Carlos Casas, Global Head of Talent & Culture at BBVA, beside José Antonio Gallego and Susana López, Diversity Leaders - BBVA
Colombia presented one of the most innovative initiatives on race: the group of employees, Etnias, works on the self-recognition of the BBVA collaborators who belong to ethnic minorities in Colombia (Afro-Colombian, Rrom and indigenous populations). Its goal is to break down the barriers these groups face in education, and down the road, in access to employment. In order to achieve this, they have created a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Labor to connect 30 young people from these ethnicities to a software development training program in which they could opt to work at BBVA.
Of the various activities carried out during Diversity Days, the presentation of the ERG on generational diversity stands out. There are currently up to four different generations at BBVA, who grew up during a radically different time, affecting the way they see the world. This working group aims to create cohesive teams regardless of the members’ age, and create multigenerational teams, avoiding stereotypes and segmentation by generation.
Workshops on the inclusion of transgender people, on sharing responsibilities at home, on inclusive language and informative chats on LGBTIQ+ childs are some of the activities that complete the Diversity Days at BBVA. A series of events that have served to learn all about and celebrate the diversity at the bank in all of its forms, and remind the workforce that diversity is a fact at the organization, and inclusion an attitude to incorporate at work.
Case study and corporate leader
All of these actions have led BBVA to become a global leader in diversity in the business world. This was demonstrated in the case study case published by Gartner praising the bank’s global strategy on diversity and inclusion issues. In its study, the U.S. consulting firm underscored the creation of Diversity and Inclusion Communities of Practice at BBVA - a group that works in collaboration with experts within and outside the organization in order to design the most effective initiatives possible.
In addition, BBVA was included in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the fourth year in a row and the OECD recognized the efforts of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation as the top foundation in the world in terms of its contributions to development for gender equality. The bank was also a finalist in the Euromoney awards for the Best Global Bank in Diversity and Inclusion and the LinkedIn Talent Awards in the Diversity Champions category.
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