Diversity & Inclusion Council: creating a diverse, inclusive and appreciative working environment
Every year, we celebrate Diversity & Inclusion Action Days to refresh our commitment to diversity and inclusion in our everyday working lives. This year, we even expanded the initiative to an entire month as the “D&I Weeks” with numerous virtual workshops, discussions and other learning opportunities for our employees.
Eddy, Mitglied des Vorstands, zuständig für Wholesale Banking, tells us why this topic is so important for us in a brief interview.
Eddy, it's 2021. There’s marriage equality and even Siri is careful to use people’s preferred pronouns. At ING, we’re a mix of people from about 70 countries, all working together. Why do you think we should create regular space for the topic of diversity and inclusion (D&I)?
Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been focusing a lot on ourselves. Paying attention to D&I is more important now than ever, because we need to reflect on where we stand and keep our minds open. Personally, I've had privilege of living in several different countries, and I’ve found that it takes time for people to understand one another. But the time you invest is well worth it, because more diversity means more fun – and better results!
At ING, we experience a lot of diversity every day, but we still face challenges when it comes to gender diversity. After all, the financial industry is still male-dominated. That’s why we want – and need – to become more diverse and inclusive. It’s a process that, unfortunately, cannot happen overnight. There is a need for action and a commitment to taking these steps in a continuous process. We need to take action in several areas. Some are straightforward, such as childcare, and others are more intangible, such as constantly challenging unconscious biases.
How do you personally advocate for diversity and inclusion?
The first step is to critically and regularly reflect about where you personally stand, in order to become conscious of the contributions that everyone can make. Through living abroad, I’ve experienced and learned a lot over the past few years, even confronting my own unconscious biases. During my time in Asia, I was responsible for diversity and inclusion. There, for example, we regularly confronted managers with their own team’s D&I data. Over time, this developed in a positive way, in that D&I became a day-to-day topic. A consistent dialogue focused on diversity and inclusion automatically leads to positive changes in behavior.
I am honored to be a sponsor of the reconstituted D&I Council. I would like to use this opportunity to encourage all of us at ING Germany to continue advocating for the topic of D&I in all areas – long term and through as many means as possible.
Looking back, how satisfied are you with the D&I Weeks?
First of all, I'm happy that we were able to have several D&I Weeks in Germany as opposed to just one day. There were more than 20 virtual offers on topics like the courage to come out, the success of diverse teams, accessibility, racism and gender sensitivity in writing. Thank you to everyone who made it possible! It’s a clear sign that everyone is welcome, accepted and included at ING. I hope that diversity in the workforce will not only enrich us, but also inspire us! Both personally and for us as a company.
I’m also very pleased that we succeeded in ensuring all employees – including the managers – had at least one encounter with the topic during the D&I Weeks. And it seems like everyone enjoyed it! We all got to open our eyes a bit more.