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Social> Diversity 25 Jun 2021

Cultural diversity and its impact on organizations

The challenge of diversity is one of the key transformation pillars for any company. In the case of BBVA, ensuring a diverse workplace, in the broadest sense of the term, allows the company to better address the needs of its diverse customer base and offer a more comprehensive service.

Diversity is one of the keys around which the response to the equality challenge needs to be structured. At the business level, a diverse workforce will better understand and cater to a diverse society. When all team members are very similar to one another, decisions are made very quickly, but that does not mean that they are the best. A team with people who bring different perspectives may be more complex to manage at first, but will come up with better solutions.

“At BBVA we are convinced that diversity is a source of wealth worth nurturing. We are convinced that workforce diversity enriches our company and the products and services we bring to customers”, said José Antonio Gallego, Global Head of Diversity at BBVA. In this sense, the bank "is committed to diversity from a comprehensive point of view, which encompasses values such as equal opportunities and inclusion."

Our cross-country footprint grants the bank a greater ability to adapt in a broad variety of diversity fields, such as nationality and cultural diversity. For this, the bank has incorporated diversity and inclusion as business goals, with each bank area defining their own targets, and prioritizing equality as a strategic priority.

"The key to all this is precisely active listening: keeping conversation channels open at all times, because regardless of how diverse a team may be, it will never be able to understand all sensitivities," explained Gallego. This is why it is essential to encourage employees to speak up, ensuring they can be feel free to express their concerns without any type of fear.

An international workforce

In a global organization like BBVA, with headquarters and offices across different countries with different cultures, diversity and inclusion are part of our day to day routine. As of 2020 year end, the bank’s workforce in Mexico accounted for 30% percent of the Group’s total headcount (or 36,798 employees). By nationalities and workforce share, the next groups were Spaniards with 23.3 percent of the total workforce (or 28,554 employees), and Americans¹ with 8.6 percent (10,537 employees). With less than 10,000 employees each, next came Colombia (6,694 workers, or 5.5 percent of its workforce), Peru (6,257 employees, or 5.1 percent) and Argentina (6,020 or 4.9 percent). All in all, the Group’s workforce comprises a total of 32 nationalities.

As for the management team, 14,079 (24.9 percent) of the Group’s managers were Mexican. 13,276 (23.7 percent) Spaniards, 4,662 Americans (8.2 percent), 3,286 Argentine (5.8 percent), 2,553 Peruvian (4.5 percent) and 2,462 Colombian (4.4 percent).

BBVA’s Code of Conduct explicitly prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, nationality, religion, family origin, language or any other characteristic which is not related objectively with work conditions.

In the United States, BBVA has publicly shown its commitment to the fight against racism, promoting equality and social justice. These initiatives include support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement and the letter by which BBVA urged the United States Congress to promote legislation regulating transparency, equality and public safety.  Also, in commemoration of Freedom Day (Juneteenth), all BBVA USA branches remained closed and talks were organized among employees to raise awareness about the fight against racial discrimination.

In Colombia, work has been done across several lines of action to create an internal diversity and inclusion policy that has resulted in a commitment to diversity from members of the Board of Directors and from line managers. This has also allowed the creation of nine employee groups (of ERGs, Employee Resource Groups), with a specific group focused on working on ethnic diversity issues.

(1) This figure will decrease during the first half of the year, after the completion, on June 1, of the sale of BBVA’s USA unit to PNC.