Nowadays, more and more companies are committed to policies that encourage diversity in their work environments. In a panel at an ICMA Women’s Network event, held in Madrid, a group of women in leadership positions in various sectors of the industry debated issues such as unconscious biases in the workplace and the challenges they have had to face throughout their professional lives.
BBVA was the host of this event organized by the International Capital Market Associations (ICMA) Women's Network, which aims to promote diversity among capital market professionals. Juan Blasco, BBVA's Global Head of Syndicate and an ICMA Board member, opened the event. During his speech he wanted to challenge the audience to reflect on things they could do to promote diversity in their own environments. Next, Marta García-Valenzuela from Talengo explained in more detail in her speech what unconscious biases are, how to identify them and, consequently, how to combat them.
Leaving aside the most traditional approaches to the labor market, Teresa Quirós, Chief Financial Officer of Red Eléctrica; Ana Arias, Senior Relationship Manager at BNY Mellon; and Yolanda Azanza, Partner of the capital department of Clifford Chance participated in the ‘Career progression and how to handle unconscious biases’ panel moderated by Clara Barrabés from BBVA's Talent & Culture team.
Facing unconscious biases
The three panel participants agreed that the issue of diversity must be addressed by society as a whole, assigning an essential role to education in the fight against unconscious biases. Ana Arias insisted on the importance of questioning the (often limited) options that arise in each person's work environment, as well as looking for and pursuing possible opportunities, as she ensured "they will not come automatically".
Ana Arias, Senior Relationship Manager at BNY Mellon ; Teresa Quirós, Chief Financial Officer of Red Eléctrica; and Yolanza Azanza, Partner of the capital department of Clifford Chance
During the panel discussion, they also highlighted the importance of networking, and in particular the way it is done by women. Yolanda Azanza recognized that female staff tend to focus on their work without actively seeking recognition for it. This is an error in her opinion, and she insists that the task of networking must be done both internally (within the company) and externally. Ana Arias affirmed that this is a pending issue for women and encouraged female staff to adopt their own way of networking that will help to advance in their careers. Teresa Quirós added that "people have to know you in all aspects as a human being and you have to know them, because you can't judge what you don't know".
To conclude the panel, the three participants presented their views on the social issues that often limit the role of women in the workplace and offered some practical advice for the listeners. "Don't feel guilty that you like your work" was one of Teresa Quirós's pieces of advice. Ana Arias urged women to believe in themselves and their professional worth. Finally, Yolanda Azanza asked for mutual support within the female sector: "support each other, support other women. We have a lot of merit".
"Support each other, support other women. We have a lot of merit"
Diversity is a commitment at BBVA
BBVA is committed to diversity as one of the key elements to achieve an optimal work environment, offer development opportunities to its employees and be more effective in solving its customers' needs. The diversity of gender, age, culture and abilities in their teams allows them to approach problems from different perspectives as well as to make innovative decisions in a more objective way and, consequently, obtain better results.
For all these initiatives and efforts made in favor of diversity, BBVA has been recognized by different international institutions. Recently and for the second year in a row, the bank has been selected as one of the 200 most advanced companies in gender equality by Equileap. In 2018 BBVA was selected by Bloomberg to enter their prestigious gender equality index, which recognizes the bank's efforts in this area. BBVA is also signatory of the Diversity Charter at European level and the UN's Principles for the empowerment of women.