Jane Ayaduray is the UK head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at BNP Paribas.
Her mission is to look at how the organisation best deals with a challenge faced by the entire industry – how to achieve gender balance across the business.
“There had been a lot of work on driving greater equality prior to my joining BNP Paribas 2 years ago at both a local and global level. We have a long history of supporting gender equality and last year, as well as being a thematic champion for HeforShe, our global CEO became a founding member of a network to tackle gender based violence. Here in the UK we’re seeing great momentum around how we drive equality for everyone – employees, clients, suppliers. It’s about much wider engagement.”
Working with the financial services industry to try and drive change not just at BNP Paribas but across the wider sector is important to Ayaduray. As well as signing the Women in Finance Charter, the bank aligns closely with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Goal Number 5 – Gender Equality – is one that Ayaduray is passionate about.
BNP Paribas has been present in the UK for more than 150 years. The bank has 10 divisions and 9,300 staff based in 21 locations across the country and is committed to making progress at every level.
“The high level of engagement we have from our C Suite at group level in Paris as well as in the UK from BNP Paribas’ country head Anne Marie Verstraeten ensures we maintain a consistent and regular dialogue as well as a strong focus on intensifying initiatives around gender diversity.”
The bank signed the Women in Finance Charter in 2018 with the objectives of encouraging transparency and promoting accountability, whilst also being part of a wider movement driving permanent and sustainable change across the wider industry.
“It’s important to be optimistic but we have to be realistic. While there are initiatives which will effect positive change in the short term particularly at the individual bank level, it will take more time to see a material shift in the industry.”
One of those initiatives Ayaduray is very excited and proud of is BNP Paribas’ RISE programme, which provides mid-level women with support to strategically manage their careers.
“It runs across all of our UK businesses and creates a real community and network for the women who are part of it. We piloted it last year, and given the impact it’s having on the participants and the opportunities they see for themselves in BNP Paribas, we’ve just welcomed our next cohort of participants.”
“I’m also really excited about the work we’re doing around some of the key intersections of employees’ personal and professional lives. We’ve recently refreshed our New and Expectant Parents Programme – it so often feels like parenting sits with mothers and we’re pushing that out to be much more inclusive of fathers both from a social perspective as well as a policy perspective. It’s important to have good benefits but we also want an environment where you can come in and say “I haven’t slept for three days and I have an important meeting” and feel supported. Similarly, while our initiative on menopause at work is in its early stages, supporting women at this sometimes challenging time in their lives to continue to thrive at work and have the best possible experience is important to us.”
“Within the Corporate and Institutional Bank, we have established a Women in Global Markets business‐driven initiative designed to improve gender equality. We have a defined focus on recruitment, retention and client engagement.”
Over the last year BNP Paribas has facilitated events with more female representation on panels and in speaker roles, which in turn has attracted a higher turnout of female clients.
“I am proud to work for a bank that is committed to accelerating its transformation towards an inclusive working environment for all. There is a sense that from the top down as well as from bottom up- every single one of us has a part to play in building a culture of respect and inclusivity in our business.
Our teams and people really do realise that every-day decisions and actions can make all the difference. When you speak up about behaviour which is marginalising, disrespectful or witness colleagues being unfairly treated, you not only demonstrate courage, but you also influence others to follow suit. Actively encouraging open discussions on family commitments and flexible working schedules, ensuring that we have at least one woman on every shortlist for any job opening also make a huge difference.
At the end of the day, our clients are a diverse group of people, and they expect diversity from their banking partner. When we are representing the bank at a client pitch, on a panel, at an industry dinner, or in an internal meeting, we need to consider what gender representation we are demonstrating.
It is an opportunity as well as of course a challenge to be involved in driving change across our business. We know because multiple studies have demonstrated it – that there is a clear financial case for gender-balanced business. It has a marked positive effect on a company’s bottom line. So I am optimistic that while there is clearly much work still to be done – our numerous business-driven initiatives, strategic approach and pro-active and high-intensity efforts are already starting to deliver results and impact.”
Investing In Women
WeAreTheCity are proud to be working with BNP Paribas as one of our Investing in Women corporate members. You can find out more about becoming a member here.