The road to equality requires us to redefine gender roles to free them from stereotypes and prejudices inherited from past social norms. In this new paradigm, the company plays a key role if it wants to attract and retain the best profiles. In the search for this approach in favor of ungendered talent, BBVA is committed to programs and actions that reflect different family models, new paternities, the promotion of women and the visibility of role models to amplify the message of diversity.
“42% of appointees promoted to senior positions at BBVA in the last year have been women. It is a long process. We are moving more slowly than we would like, but we are getting closer and closer to achieving parity," explained Carlos Casas, Global Head of Talent and Culture at BBVA. The goal of the bank, which has 53% female employees worldwide, is to support the career growth of women and accelerate their access to senior positions.
BBVA's commitment is firm. Both the Chairman and CEO of the bank review the data on female talent promotions at different tiers of the organization on a quarterly basis to see whether the measures implemented are yielding results. Measures include applying the Rooney Rule in hiring processes (at least 50% of shortlisted candidates for a position must be women), use of inclusive language in job descriptions, identification and visibility of female role models within the organization and follow-up and tracking of women with high potential in their careers. These actions have also helped to narrow the Bank's gender pay gap to 0.6% across the Group.
Motherhood carries a higher career penalty than fatherhood
These measures are the outcome of an in-depth analysis within the company. In 2019, to better understand the reasons for the different career speeds of men and women, we analyzed aggregate career data for 22,000 male and female BBVA employees since 1996. "The result was fully consistent with the economic literature on the subject: the careers of men and women follow an almost identical path until they have children, where motherhood carries a heavier penalty than fatherhood,” the executive stated.
This effect is widely seen in almost all countries and industries. Therefore, “strategy should focus on supporting women’s career growth to change the role that men have in relation to work and raise awareness that we must play a more active role in caring for the family."
To shape its diversity strategy, the bank found inspiration in research conducted by Claudia Goldin, the winner of a BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award and an economic pioneer in analyzing the gender gap. For Goldin, who says "the key change has more to do with men than women," business measures to narrow the gender gap must involve a focus on male responsibility.
New masculinities and family roles
This strategy has led BBVA to encourage a flexible work environment that helps redefine men’s traditional workplace role, where work was often privileged above family duties. "Up until recently, a man who took paternity leave or left the office if his child had a problem at school was regarded as less committed to his job," said Casas. But these attitudes are being reversed with impactful work-life balance measures and by senior management leading by example. "When our employees see the bank’s country manager in Colombia enjoying his full paternity leave, they get a hugely powerful message that the best place to be for a new father is with his partner and children," he said.
"One of the mainstays of our strategy is to achieve a flexible work environment where men can take on family responsibilities to the same degree as women, and where motherhood is not an obstacle to a woman’s career," the executive stated. This is one of the areas where the bank is working hardest, with initiatives such as Daddies Tracks: in countries where paternity leave uptake is lowest, this campaign advocates for longer paternity leave and encourages employees who have become fathers to enjoy their full leave allowance. Specifically, the bank has extended paternity leave in Mexico to 20 days from the statutory 5 days, while in Turkey leave was increased from 5 to 10 days.
The bank is aware of the need to design talent-focused initiatives beyond the traditional family framework. "When we propose work-life balance measures, we are clear in our minds that our employees have created all types of families: traditional, single-mother, single-father, homoparental, and so on. As people managers, we need to be able to offer a distinctive value proposition for each of these family types. Every BBVA employee, regardless of the type of family they belong to, is entitled to spend time with their family and friends, to have their free time respected, and to have a career that reflects their merits," he concluded.