Interview conducted by Harriet Minter
As a global financial services organisation with a strong Japanese heritage, MUFG prides itself on its long-term relationships and driving sustainable progress.
That these values already existed within the culture of the organisation has meant that for Jessamy McGregor, a Director within MUFG EMEA’s HR team, rolling out an Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) strategy has shown signs of success almost from the get-go.
“We have started by giving every department in the UK targets to improve I&D in their divisions, equipping them with ‘Diversity Dashboards’, so that leaders have a clear picture of the state of play and their targets. Initially, these had a focus on gender, given our Women in Finance Charter commitments, but I&D isn’t just about gender diversity for us .”
At management level, MUFG has committed to increasing the proportion of women in senior management roles by at least 10% by 2022 in the UK. This is effectively doubling the number of senior women that MUFG started out with when they signed the Charter in 2017. Meanwhile, to ensure there is a continual flow of talent into the organisation, bigger targets have been set at entry level.
“We’ve committed to a 50/50 gender split for our intern, apprentice and grad intakes,” McGregor explains. “To support the business in reaching these targets, we run an annual Female Insight Day to increase the attraction of female talent to the organisation, and our CEOs were the first people to volunteer to come and talk to this audience – and they now do so every year. They also sit on MUFG EMEA’s I&D Steering Committee and closely scrutinise how we propose to tackle challenges and hurdles that get in the way of us reaching our goals.”
The response throughout the organisation has been positive. While McGregor is open about the fact that any change is always going to raise questions initially, she explains that a lot of their success has been because they spent time and thought on the messaging around the I&D strategy. Rather than seeing it as an initiative just for women, MUFG has committed more broadly to ensuring gender balance for everyone. They also have an employee network that supports gender diversity more broadly, and at these events, men often outnumber women. The network officially launched on International Men’s Day in 2016 with a focus on male mental health and has subsequently spear-headed gender-balanced initiatives. Showing men that they too can benefit from gender balance within the organisation and that they have a responsibility to promote diversity has resulted in that rare thing – an I&D strategy with as many male supporters as female. McGregor explains how they did it:
“We focussed on the role of men in this agenda, seeing them as champions of change. Our International Men’s Day session on male mental health got their attention and encouraged them to engage more in the discussion. With the work we do around maternity and paternity leave we’ve also seen our shared parental leave figures increase year-on-year and the focus is very much on family and caregiving, rather than on what we’d see simply as gender stereotypes. We’ve had quite a high number of men in mid to senior level positions in the Front Office take SPL too, which is something we didn’t expect to happen this quickly.”
These male role models are setting the pace for the rest of organisation, encouraging more open discussion around parenting and the progression of women. Of course, there is still more to do and McGregor is excited about plans to continue extending the I&D strategy beyond the gender conversation.
“We’re now working on our ethnicity strategy and have started to focus on social mobility. In both areas there is a lot for both us and the industry more generally, to do. We want to look more closely at diversifying our talent pool and our recruitment methods; we know that we can make great strides in this space, especially given some of the successes we’ve had with our Graduate and Intern intakes. We will be running our first BAME Insight day later this year and I am looking forward to seeing the output.”
There are also significant efforts already underway to support employees who are affected by mental health issues.
“Talking about mental health has really helped us remove the stigma around it, but it’s about embedding culture change as well and not ‘just talking about it’. We’ve seen big numbers of people attending events and discussions around mental health – it’s one of the most popular topics on our I&D agenda. Alongside more typical forms of assistance, such as our external Employee Assistance Programme, we’ve also trained 48 mental health first aiders across our London offices. These First Aiders are trained to identify any issues their colleagues may be struggling with and can signpost them to the right help. The aim is to ensure that our colleagues have a variety of resources available to them to provide support, whether they are personally affected or they know someone who is. The positive impact of this framework is really being felt at all levels of the organisation.”
The pace of change at MUFG feels exciting. The ambition and buy-in feels encouraging. McGregor is proud of the progress they’ve made to date and the commitment within the organisation. She talks glowingly of the initiatives they have run and the willingness of all staff to get involved at all levels. There’s a real desire to do things differently and achieve positive results. Trust, which is such an important part of the company values, is allowing the I&D team to learn and create a strategy that really works.
About the author
Harriet Minter is a journalist, speaker and future author. She founded and edited the Guardian’s Women in Leadership section, which focussed on women in the workplace, and is a columnist for Psychologies magazine. She’s written for publications including The Times, Huffington Post and The Pool. Prior to working at the Guardian she completed a Politics degree at Newcastle University following which she started her journalistic career at RollonFriday.com, the leading news site for lawyers. She is a regular speaker on women’s rights, the future of work, and digital media. In the past two years she’s given two TED Talks, the first on the importance of learning to fail and the second on yoga, which have had 10s of thousands of views. Outside of work her passions include high heels and big boats – just not together.
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