The bank has produced a manual entitled ‘Normalizing Differences’ that aims to provide employees across the company a basic knowledge about LGBTIQ+ diversity, most especially executives and people managers who are involved in the selection process or decision-making about employee professional development and trajectory. The document, put together with input from hundreds of employees who agreed to be interviewed for the initiative, identifies challenges and specific needs people belonging to this group may face.
Historically, companies have been places where issues about diversity have been almost taboo. Today this has changed; modern society demands that companies foster an openness that reflects individual differences between people and plurality as a source of richness. “This manual arises from the need to create greater awareness within the company about the value of diverse talent,” José Antonio Gallego, head of Diversity at BBVA, explains.
The manual describes how the bank conceives diversity and contains a glossary of basic concepts to help people understand different identity options, gender expression, biological sex, and sexual orientation. It also delves into diversity management, explaining some types of discrimination that LGBTIQ+ people face and providing a catalog of heteronormative biases so that they can be avoided in interpersonal interactions.
The bank first shared the new manual with executives, team managers, and those individuals who might most influence employee development and career path decisions, in addition to those teams most involved in people recruitment and selection. “In order to manage diversity, it is absolutely essential to identify where it is and what each person’s specific needs are, especially for people who identify as LGBTIQ+ so that they are included and feel comfortable in the company, and that their professional development has every chance at success,” explains Ízaro Amibilia a founder of Be Yourself, a group of BBVA employees who are devoted to LGBTIQ+ diversity and which played a key role in conducting the interviews for drafting the manual.
BBVA Headquarters in Madrid illuminated with Pride flag colours - BBVA
The general release of the bank’s manual coincides with the observance of Pride Week festivities. Any employee can access the manual via various internal training communities, and team leaders are encouraged to proactively share it with their teams and colleagues.
Greater diversity, greater inclusivity
The BBVA commitment to diversity and every form of inclusion was formalized in 2019 when the bank joined the Corporate Network for Diversity and LGBTI inclusion (REDI) and threw its support behind the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business on Tackling Discrimination against LGBTI people. Signing up to these principles, which safeguard the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in the workplace, entails a commitment that encompasses guaranteeing equal treatment and putting measures in place to identify possible discrimination based on an employee’s sexual identification or orientation.
These first steps led to the inception of the Be Yourself program, spearheaded by employees and with the full backing of the bank’s senior management. The program focuses on three areas: working on the bank's LGBTIQ+ diversity policies, developing a coaching program for people who need support, and cultivating an inclusive corporate culture. With the completion of its first year, the initiative has already managed to position BBVA as a leader on the topic, and numerous BBVA representatives have participated in external forums and employee discussions during LGBTIQ+ Pride Day, Lesbian Visibility Day, and International Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“During the year, we have been in contact with employees who are interested in Be Yourself’s work, people who are part of the LGBTIQ+ community or who are simply just sensitive to the issue. We extracted a lot of lessons and knowledge from the interviews we conducted and wanted to include them in this manual,” Amilibia says.
Once again and to commemorate Pride Week, BBVA has showed its support of the community by illuminating a number of its corporate worldwide headquarters, including the emblematic headquarters building in Madrid, with the colors of the LGBTIQ+ flag. Similarly, the BBVA Spain app and the corporate social media channels have personalized their avatars, adapting the BBVA logo with rainbow colors. They have also sponsored a photography competition on Instagram that encourages celebrating our differences using the hashtag #MakeItVisibleBBVA.
BBVA Headquarters in Ciudad de México illuminated with Pride flag colours - BBVA