In an organization as large and diverse as BBVA, with more than 110,000 employees in 25 countries, we are bound to encounter different family models that go beyond the one formed by two adults of different sex and one or more children. To better understand each type of family and their specific needs, the bank has created a guide to make that diversity visible. “We want to raise awareness that there are other family models besides the conventional one. At BBVA every family has their place, and we are under a duty to be aware of the needs and specific features of each one,” explains José Antonio Gallego, Diversity Discipline Leader at BBVA.
“There are many definitions of what we might consider to be a 'family', but perhaps the definition that is clearest in our minds is that of people who live together in the same home. This, by its own definition, has changed in society over time,” Gallego adds. Until not so long ago, the concept of 'family' only ever meant the traditional model of a mother, a father and their children, yet this pattern has evolved and expanded, and other types of family are now normal and need to be recognized. "Lending visibility to any type of family, whether traditional, single-parent, single-mother or single-father, same-sex parents, divorced parents, and more, enables us to know what specific needs they might have," Gallego explains.
The bank's Diversity team, together with a diverse interdisciplinary working group made up of members of different family types, have created a guide on 'New Family Models', with the aim of conveying to the organization that these models exist, that they also need representation and that they are not exceptional. “The aim of the guide is to increase the visibility of the different types of families; to offer guidelines to raise awareness among the entire workforce so that they understand, appreciate and respect this diversity; and to inform about all the measures implemented at BBVA to help achieve work-life balance and family well-being,” the expert says. These initiatives give all employees equal treatment and are already helping them achieve a good work-life balance.
The bank believes all its employees are entitled to a suitable work-life balance and to a career that reflects their merits, regardless of the type of family they belong to. BBVA has permanently adopted a hybrid, flexible work model, thus creating a more transparent and balanced work environment that ensures equal opportunities and career development for all employees based on actual performance rather than mere office presence. Some measures under the model are the quarterly arrangement of working from home 40% of the time, which includes the option of working from two different home addresses.
Even before the pandemic, the bank pioneered closing its headquarters at 7 p.m. and other measures that are now firmly established, such as limiting meetings to 45 minutes and flexible arrival and departure times. The bank also has in place measures to encourage family co-responsibility, with incentives for men to enjoy more time with their families and increased paternity leave in countries where it was lower.
Diversity as a BBVA priority
“Some people are more prone than others to certain family emergencies, such as non-schooldays or children or parents falling ill. Others have less flexibility to accommodate last-minute changes in meetings or to attend conferences that involve spending the night away from home,” explains José Antonio Gallego. He further clarifies that this type of situation "should not be interpreted as a lack of commitment. Rather, team leaders should be aware of and facilitate a suitable work-life balance for their team members."
The manual provides tips for handling this sort of situation. For example, the guide explains that a person's job performance should not be prejudged or stereotyped based on their family model, nor should their manager make decisions on that person’s behalf: “If a colleague has formed a single-parent family, this does not necessarily imply, for example, that she is not willing to travel or that she is going to apply for a reduction in working time. If a new project arises that involves frequent travel, a team leader shouldn’t leave her out of it, even with the best of intentions”, he concludes.