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Series Three, Episode Five: Securing the future of financial services through improved diversity (Recorded live)

This episode was recorded live at Sibos 2018 in Sydney, on Monday 22nd October 2018, as part of The Swift Institute’s ‘Bridging the gap between academia and the financial industry’ programme

Our host Julia Streets was joined by Rae Cooper, Professor of Gender, Work and Employment Relations, Associate Dean in the University of Sydney Business School and Director of the Women Work and Leadership Research Group at the University of Sydney, Rosemary Stone, Global Head of Human Resources at SWIFT, and Sam Turner, Head of Inclusion & Diversity for the Westpac Group. Topics discussed included the war on talent in financial services, neurodiversity, creating more inclusive teams and leaders, financial incentives around D&I, intersectionality, managing potential backlash, retraining and reskilling in response to industry demand, the importance of changing corporate policies, and how younger generations are paving the way for true equality.

Special Thanks to:

This episode was kindly hosted by The SWIFT Institute.

Rae Cooper

Rae Cooper is Professor of Gender, Work and Employment Relations, Director of the Women Work and Leadership Research Group at the University of Sydney and Associate Dean in the University of Sydney Business School. Rae undertakes research on many aspects of the world of work and has a keen interest in the experience of working women at work and in their careers. At present she is working on a major project on young women’s present experiences at work and their hopes and fears for their future of work and another study on women’s experience in male dominated occupations and professions (looking at women in investment management, women pilots, women in autos).

You can follow Rae on Twitter @Raecooper1.

Rosemary Stone

Rosemary Stone was appointed Global Head of Human Resources in May 2018. The focus of the team is to enable business transformation through talent acquisition, people, culture, organisational development and performance management. Prior to this role, Rosemary was Acting Head of SWIFT’s UK, Ireland and Nordics business, with responsibility for strategic client engagement and business development. Rosemary has also worked as Head of Executive office for SWIFT’s Americas & UK region, and has led Marketing Communications as part of the global marketing management team. Rosemary also served in the leadership team for SWIFT’s Customer Security Programme from its inception. Earlier in her career Rosemary held senior roles in corporate and marketing communications and public affairs in both London and Brussels, across a number of business sectors. Rosemary has a Master’s degree from Kings’ College London.

Also, Rosemary is a Board Member of the London Women’s Forum, a network of senior female leaders in London’s Financial Services.

You can follow Rosemary on Twitter @rosierosiero.

Sam Turner

Sam Turner is the Head of Inclusion & Diversity for the Westpac Group.

She is an energetic and engaging leader who is passionate about people, and equality. Sam believes that everyone has the right to feel safe, comfortable and included in work-life conversations and culture, and that organisations have a responsibility to foster this environment.

Sam has been with Westpac for four years, prior to her current role she was the Business Manager for NSW Regional and ACT Retail Banking and has also held various senior roles at NAB, BHP, and Deloitte.

Sam was the Overall Winner of the 2016 Internal Westpac Women of Influence Awards for her thought leadership and execution in the Inclusion & Diversity space.

She holds an Honours degree in Commerce, and a Postgraduate Diploma of Psychology.

You can follow Sam Turner on Twitter @Sammy_L_T.

Series Three, Episode Five Transcript

Julia: Hello and welcome to DiverCity Podcast, the special edition that is recorded here today in front of a live audience of the global Sibos Conference in Sydney, Australia. Kindly hosted by the SWIFT Institute that funds independent research, supports knowledge-led debate, and provides a forum where academics and financial practitioners can learn from each other. Therefore, this is the perfect episode, because as regular listeners will know, in each episode we seek to shine a light on positive progress, call out areas requiring further focus and offer plenty of ideas to help drive change.

Today’s discussion is all about securing the future of financial services through improved diversity. So allow me to tell you a little bit about our panellists. Our first panellist today is Rae Cooper. She is the professor of Gender Work and Employment Relations and director of the Women Work and Leadership research group at the University of Sydney. She is also Associate Dean of the University of Sydney Business School. Rae undertakes research on many aspects of the world of work, and has a keen interest in the experience of working women. At present, she is working on a major project exploring young women’s present experiences at work, and another study on women’s experience in male-dominated occupations and professions such as women in investment management, women pilots, and women in autos. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Rae Cooper.

Our second guest today is Rosemary Stone. Rosemary Stone was appointed Global Head of Human Resources at SWIFT, and is focused on enabling business transformation through talent acquisition, people, culture, organisational development, and performance management. Prior to this role, Rosemary was acting Head of SWIFT’s UK, Ireland, and Nordics business, with responsibility for strategic client engagement and business development. Rosemary has held many senior executive positions in multiple different locations across the many different functions, including marketing communications, and SWIFT’s customer security programme. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Rosemary Stone.

Finally, our third guest today is Sam Turner, who is the Head of Inclusion and Diversity for the Westpac Group. Sam has been with Westpac for four years. Prior to her current role, she was the Business Manager for New South Wales regional and ACT Retail Banking, and just also held various senior positions at NAB, BHP and Deloitte. We are particularly excited because this year Sam was granted a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study cultural diversity in leadership. Please join me in welcoming Sam Turner.

At the top of every show, as we record the podcast, we always invite each of our panelists to just take one minute to explain exactly what you’re working on at the moment and talk about yourself. Rosemary, let’s start with you.

Rosemary: Okay. The war on talent that’s happening across the financial industry is a big focus for us, and it’s certainly an area that I think CEOs should really care about, and it should be the thing that keeps them awake at night. I saw a recent risk report from Gartner that identified talent shortages as among the top three risks that all companies face in our sector right now. So as we continue to grow, we simply need to focus on that. Diversity I think can be one of the ways in which we help to solve that challenge. Certainly, we can’t afford to ignore the best and the broadest talent pools that we have out there if we’re really going to grow in the future and continue that trend within our industry.

That’s the same for SWIFT as well. We also are in a phase of growth. We need to hire in new talent. We need to develop and grow talent within our organisation. So we’re certainly focusing on making sure that we address unconscious bias in the way we coach our hiring managers to be involved in the recruitment process. Then we’ve got a lot of initiatives going on within the company, both in terms of tracking and monitoring the development of women as they carry their careers through with us, but also on the culture side, we have a great ambassador programme across our business, with people coming up with grassroots ideas on how to drive diversity and serious behaviour change across our organisation as well.

Julia: Wonderful, and there’s so much in there that we will explore for sure. I’ve been making notes while you’ll be talking so we’ll make sure we come back to some of that, which is wonderful. Thank you. Let’s move on to you Sam. What are you focused on at the moment?

Sam: I’m very lucky and fortunate in that I get to live and breathe inclusion and diversity on a daily basis. So at Westpac Group, we hit 50% women in leadership roles last year. So the key focus is to obviously maintain that 50%, so that half-half, but also how are we attracting and retaining the talent that we currently have, but also attracting new talent as well. Two other key things for me but also for the group are we launched a programme for people on the autism spectrum this year, so growing out that particular programme, we’ve started as a pilot and we’ve done it quite differently to some of the more tech industry-based programmes. So building that out in the next 12 months, and also a real focus on cultural diversity. So we know that in Australian organisations, but also worldwide, we have far fewer culturally diverse leaders. So what are some of the mechanisms and programmes that we can do to create more inclusive environments and move people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds into leadership roles?

Julia: Wonderful. Great, and the autism, actually, you’re the first person I’ve come across … We do talk a lot on the podcast about the spectrum that is diversity and inclusion and how wonderful to hear your thinking about autism. Thank you very much indeed. Rae, let’s come to you. I talked in the introduction about two particular areas of research. I’d love to hear more.

Rae: So two big projects at the moment, one of which is looking at young women and the future of work. So 16 to 40 year old women. Young is anyone younger than me, and looking at what their present experience is at work, what’s the material conditions, what do they think about what’s going on in terms of equality and a range of other things, and then what do they project about their future of work? So what do they want? What do they fear? What do they think is going to happen in terms of automation and a range of other things like that? So that’s a real exciting one.

: We’re also working on another project which is looking at women working in what we’re calling hyper-masculine occupations and professions. One of which is women working in investment management, and then there are others across other areas in blue collar areas like autos, women auto repairs and also women who are pilots, and really interesting comparisons across those. In my day job, when I’m not doing research, I run the degrees at the University of Sydney Business School. So I’m also looking at how we build in inclusive leadership and diversity awareness for our students, regardless of what they’re studying, whether they want to work in finance or HR, to try to work out the ways in which we can build up the leadership capabilities for the future for our students.

Julia: Let me just pick up on that because then clearly the heart of your work with the students around the business school side of things is a starting premise of diversity clearly matters.

Rae: Yes. I think typically the way that business schools, particularly in undergraduate education or basic master’s education has looked at delivering really technical content to our students. What we’re trying to do at the University of Sydney business school is to try to say, “Actually, in order to be a great leader in the future, you need to understand yourself.” So it’s about who am I, what is my leadership style? But we also need to understand who are others, what’s their style, what are their interests, what are their needs? And how do we put that together in a team to lead to effective performance? So we think that, actually, is as important as some of the technical training that we might normally have given them in a core compulsory unit. So we have 1500 students doing this subject every year.

Julia: And Sam let me bring you in there … also thinking about the Winston Churchill Fellowship.

Sam: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s incredibly poignant and particularly timely as well because one of the things that we rolled out this year was inclusive leadership training. So it’s, I guess, a couple of years ago unconscious bias was the thing and everyone was focused on unconscious bias whereas, we’re really I guess thinking about how do we shift that dial to more inclusive leadership. That includes everyone in the organisation. How do I create more inclusive teams, how do I be a more inclusive team member? So the more that we can do that actually at university, it’s just going to be reinforced when they get into a business environment as opposed to, this is the first time that they’ve ever heard of unconscious bias or training. The Fellowship for me is a great opportunity to actually really figure out, in the US and in the UK in particular, what is it? What are some of the programmes and mechanisms that are happening in those countries to move people from more culturally diverse backgrounds into those leadership roles. But underpinning that, what’s the inclusive culture? So what’s the inclusive leadership piece? That’s the enabler.

Julia: I think a lot about the barriers to progress and clearly, there’s a commercial imperative – why this matters. There’s a wonderful process of starting early so that it becomes embedded in. But of course, and the reality is, that that talent walks into organisations, and there are some barriers that exist. Rosemary, let me bring you in there. What do you see as being the major barriers to change?

Rosemary: As has been referred to, I think leadership is an area that we need to continue to pay a lot of attention to because it has a role modelling effect through the whole of an organisation. I read the rather depressing statistic, I have to say, in the FT a couple of weeks ago that when you look at succession plans for CEOs, 99% of succession plans still have men within the top three roles and don’t include women in the top three contenders. What we’re also starting to see, is that even when women break through that and they manage to become a CEO, at the end of their tenure, they tend to be replaced by men. So this is something that’s going to be a long term journey if you like to try to address through exactly the inclusion and the inclusive leadership focus that you’ve referred to. Indeed at SWIFT, we’re also on that journey. We’ve still got a way to go, clearly, but right now we have about a third of our global leadership team who are women, which is progress for us. Very pleased our first female CFO is here at Sibos. We also have some very inspiring board members such as Emma Loftus, who’s very senior in JP Morgan, Lisa Lansdowne-Higgins, who is a strong champion of diversity from RBC, who are within our SWIFT community and represent us on our boards, which is definitely building the momentum.

Julia: Let’s build on that a little bit further then, in terms of the accelerating dynamics that can be brought in to drive change and looking ahead. Clearly one of them is role modelling and having very strong examples at the boardroom table, and thinking about overcoming some of those mindsets of succession planning as you were saying there. Let me ask the other two, Sam and Rae, any other thoughts around what will particularly accelerate the pace of change?

Rae: So I think we’re all agreeing that leadership is absolutely critical. I think it’s not just leaders saying that they align with diversity, I think it’s actually leaders putting their money where their mouth is, if you like, walking the walk, talking the talk. So that means ensuring that we have the systems that actually support what we’re saying, whether that’s around looking at how we value people, who we reward and for what sorts of behaviours. It’s about looking at our policies and access to practises such as flexible working and whether that’s gender equitable, and whether people can work on a flexible basis, for example, when they have small children, whether they’re men or women, and that they’re still able to progress through their careers.

I think something that might be a disruptor and an accelerator is not just to have targets, which I think is very important, and not just to have the leadership that puts its money where its mouth is, but literally puts its money where its mouth is. I think we need to actually start to look at ways in which we build into bonus, which I know is a very big part of the financial services industry and banking in general, is we start to look at the performance of people around diversity and inclusion and we make that part of what we’re rewarding at the end of year financial bonus. Yeah.

Sam: That’s actually something that Atlassian do very well. So they’ve literally just built into reward their diversity. I mean, Westpac did this when we … we wouldn’t have hit 50% women in leadership roles if it wasn’t in all of our exec and senior leader scorecards. It’s funny because people often say to me, “How did you get that to work?” And it’s like, “Well, generally bankers tend to quite like getting a bonus and quite like getting paid.” But I think to your point Julia around the acceleration of change, it’s a relentless focus. It’s something that businesses and corporations and organisations, you can’t afford to take your foot off the accelerator. There has to be a focus on it, and I would love to be able to sit up here and be redundant in five years time, but the reality is that as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator around diversity and inclusion, you do take a backward step. I think it’s that organisational focus, but it’s also what are each and every one of your leaders doing to actually drive … Who do they mentor? Who do they support? But also who’s in their team that’s different to themselves? I think we’re pretty good at promoting Anglo-Celtic women. I think it’s a whole different-

Rae: Well we’re okay, we’re not great.

Sam: We’re okay, but when you start looking at any type of intersection, and it’s not just cultural diversity, it’s LGBT, it’s women with a disability, it’s people from non-traditional backgrounds, even things like private school educated versus public school, and growing up in regional locations as opposed to CBD. So I think that acceleration of change needs to be about expanding our focus. It’s not one thing, it’s everything.

Julia: Absolutely. And it’s very easy as we sit here as four women champions on a stage to think about it through a gender lens, but actually the intention is not, it’s certainly to go much more broadly. I’m very interested in one dynamic. It’s wonderful to hear you talk about the score cards and to talk about leadership, but it’s the middle management layer that often people come back to and say, “That’s almost where one of the biggest sticking points to change is.” I’m hesitant to come to you first Rosemary, because the risk is, it puts a lot on your shoulders to represent that for everybody, but I am interested in what are some of those dynamics that will drive change to shift middle management … I’d say behaviours, it sounds like a very negative way of framing it, but if you’ve always been led in a certain way and you’ve been managed in a certain way, of course you behave in a certain way. And that takes some courage, actually, to do something different. So I’m very interested in all your views, but Sam let me come to you first of all.

Sam: I think, and it’s a question I generally tend to get asked a lot, how do you move middle management to be more inclusive? I think again, it’s one of those things that it’s got to be a multifaceted approach. So one of the things that we’ve done is we’ve rolled out inclusive leadership training, and not that a training programme is going to be the panacea of inclusion, it’s not like you do this 45 minute module and all of a sudden you’re an inclusive leader, but I think a focus on tips and what do you say, what do you not say? What’s a better way of saying this? All that kind of stuff, but also getting people to do a self reflection, getting people to do a self assessment and think about what are the one or two things that they can do as a manager and as a leader, but I also do think, it does come back to that accountability piece and it does come back to, middle managers have leaders. So how are those leaders holding that particular cohort to account? I also think there’s got to be something in it for them. We are human after all and we do want to know that this is going to benefit me in some way.

Rae: And they’re a very squeezed group, right? So we expect a lot of our middle managers … So they have the pressure of managing staff, they have the pressure of managing up as well. I think you’re right, having a bit of a nuanced approach which is looking at, from their interests as well, what are they needing to achieve and for whom? Then how can we, I don’t like the word incentivise, but how can we try to drive some change and some behaviour through their interests around the sorts of things that reward them, or punish them.

Julia: It’s carrot and stick.

Rae: Right, yeah. I think everything about culture is carrot and stick.

Rosemary: I think the feedback is also very important, that their team members are able to give regular feedback on their own experience within the team, and the values of the managers, et cetera. We’ve certainly rolled out kind of upward feedback mechanisms to say that we can check that regularly, which also creates a different kind of dialogue between the manager and their team.

Rae: Right. And it also puts a bit of a sense check on it, doesn’t it?

Rosemary: Yeah.

Rae: So it’s not just, I say I’m an inclusive leader, but actually if you’re an inclusive leader then your team is going to say that they have a different experience as a result of your behaviours.

Julia: One of things I’m always looking for is, what are those realities, the undeniable truths that get people to maybe think slightly differently. One of the ones that I talk about quite a lot at the moment is about ageing parents. It doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female, or a middle manager or senior manager, the reality is that a call may come. Another example is the role of recruitment agencies, and the way in which they present talent and look for talent as well. You’re all nodding along with me, but I would love to see if there are other things that you’ve been thinking about in terms of how do you drive change, and accelerate the pace of change?

Rosemary: I think on our side, I definitely see it with recruitment agencies. You need to push back and actually say, come on, show me a better shortlist of candidates than you’re automatically doing. So it does require some vigilance on that point. I think one of the areas I would like to focus a bit more on, which speaks to my own experience a little bit, is tapping into that returnee talent pool of women who’ve been in the industry and may have taken time off, can be men as well for caring responsibilities, which could be children, could be older parents, but who you can reconnect back into the market, and they can have a second phase of career. I did something very similar, I have three young daughters. When they were very small, I took time out of the workplace and came back, which SWIFT enabled me to do that. But I would like to see a lot more of that happening.

Julia: Fantastic. Other thoughts?

Sam: I think with recruitment and with recruitment agencies, sometimes, unfortunately, that does drive the wrong behaviours in terms of you say, “Give me a better shortlist” and they’ll just give you another three women who are are not necessarily aligned to that particular role. So I think it’s got to be built in to SLAs, it’s got to be built into your agreement with the recruitment agency, but I think it’s also not just to focus on gender. So what recruitment agencies are you working with? For example, we work with ‎Specialisterne, who recruit people on the spectrum. So we know, particularly with the rise of the cybersecurity space, that we need people who think differently. That’s literally these amazingly beautiful people on the spectrum. So people who think differently. So how are you working with recruitment agencies that are maybe not your top five, that are maybe smaller and boutique, that are going to find your talent that would not otherwise be found?

Julia: And you talk about the technology angle when you talk about cyber there because technology is all built on agile, agile is all about diversity. You have to have diversity of opinions of minds, you build it, you try to launch it, break it, test it, hone it, refine it, and work in this cycle. And around technology, a lot of technology teams completely get that. The question is where do we find the talents and broaden the pools, I guess as well. Rae, let me come to you for other thoughts?

Rae: I think there’s also a lot of conversation which goes like this – in the technologically enabled areas of industry, then that’s when we’re going to get to equality. But I think we’ve got to be a little bit careful with that, because having had a little bit of a look at the stats on FinTech for example, just in Australia, I think it was Silicon Valley that’s often referred to as a bit of a bro fest. I think we can see bits of FinTech in Australia is very hyper-male, and particular cultural groups as well. So I think we have to look at not necessarily assuming … so the technology might enable some work towards achieving equality, but it won’t necessarily, unless we design it in. I think that’s important.

So one thing I wanted to raise as well is about the issue, and this is something I’m coming up with a lot in my research, is the issue of backlash. So we’re having, we can set targets, we’re both smiling and nodding, set targets, and some people are doing some really interesting things about saying, “Okay, we’re going to set a target for 40% women, 40% men, and then let’s work out what we do with an extra 20%. Because what that allows you to do is to say, “Actually, we have a place for men here and also we can value a whole bunch of other diversities, of intersectional arrangements of women or men of culturally diverse heritage or other diversities”. But I think we really do need to start to deal with the backlash which is going on in organisations around people feeling that if they’re not of a particular cultural group which is seen to be being promoted, that they feel quite, I want to say emasculated, or they feel like they’re being left out or ignored, and what do we do about that?

Julia: We’re coming across a lot of organisations who have … the risk is that it could sound quite trite, but it’s incredibly important … around men matters campaigns and the intersectionality between different groups, because this is all about diversity and inclusion. So a terrible outcome would be to find that we’re actually isolating people as well

Rae: Yes. Absolutely.

Rosemary: We increase our ability to create opportunities if we enable women to potentially retrain into new areas. You mentioned cyber security, which is traditionally a more male-dominated part of the industry. We’ve got a scheme going at the moment which is enabling women to retrain and convert to a career in cyber security for the future and get certified, even if they don’t have a technical background, which matches a big skill shortage that we have. But it also then means that there’s not a backlash, that this is a tokenistic measure, because there’s diversity in the talent pool in those different domains.

Rae: Yeah. Interesting.

Sam: We will talk about this when we do a future of work panel around this, but the future of work and the changing nature of work is such a great opportunity because we’re re-skilling and changing the capabilities of our workforce. So making sure that whatever those programmes happen to be around re-skilling and around re-capability, that they are open to both genders and that there is, I guess, an opportunity for that less technical skill and more of whatever it is that we happen to be moving to in the future. But I also think that’s a piece where policy does actually play quite a significant role. So when you’re talking about things like parental leave and carer’s leave, making sure that your whole workforce knows that that’s open to them. So we did a campaign not long ago with, we had a bunch of our men who had taken the full 13 weeks parental leave, and sharing their stories. That’s inclusive of our men who want to be primary carers for the first little while.

Julia: So we’re coming to the last few minutes of the podcast. I’m very keen to hear what you’re optimistic about? I think what is wonderful is that we’re having this discussion. We’re doing it on the podcast, which will go out globally, and I’m very keen to hear what you’re optimistic about. So Rosemary, let me start with you.

Rosemary: Okay. I definitely am a glass half full person on this. I think we’ve seen from all of the debates so far at Sibos that we’re really in a period of transformation as an industry, and we have an opportunity now to shake off some of the old stereotypes. The people side is more important than ever before because we heard that the technology is one piece, but the human capital side becomes ever more critical. So as we transform, we make diversity part of that transformation. I think there’s a lot to be excited about.

Julia: Wonderful. Great. Sam?

Sam: For me it’s very much that this is becoming a global focus. So when you look at roles, particularly in the States and in the UK, around Directors of Inclusion and Chief Equality Officers at other organisations, this is becoming a global focus. So that’s quite heartening, but also the other piece is around our younger generation – equality is an imperative. It’s not an optional accessory. So for me, those two things combined.

Rae: Yeah, and I’ll just hitch off the back of Sam there. So I’m lucky enough to work with young people most of my day in my research and also in my teaching and governance and leadership at the university, and this new generation is almost going to make our conversations obsolete because they expect equality, and they’re going to demand it in their careers and that they just won’t put up with anything else. So in a way we just need to open the doors and make way for them.

Julia: Fabulous. It’s been the most wonderful conversation. Thank you very much indeed. What I’m now going to do is invite this incredible audience here at The SWIFT Institute room at Sibos in Sydney to please join me in thanking our panel. Thank you.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was recorded live at Sibos Sydney on October 22nd of 2018. Thanks to Kirsten Taylor Fry, the production team from for recording the event. You can find all previous episodes of DiverCity Podcast on our website, You can also find us on iTunes, SoundCloud, BrightTALK, and the Women’s Radio Station, or wherever else you download your podcasts. Our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.