How did diversity become a business priority?
Diversity and inclusion should represent the basic commitments of any company doing business in today’s world, including diversity of origin, non-discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation and/or gender identity, accessibility for the differently abled, religious diversity, equal opportunity employment and more.
A strong commitment
For many years, BNP Paribas has gone above and beyond the regulatory and legal requirements by enacting a committed and responsible D&I (Diversity & Inclusion) Policy in every country where the Group operates.
Since 2007, BNP Paribas has identified discrimination as one of its 30 major operational risks. In 2015, the Group placed diversity at the center of the “BNP Paribas Way,” a charter outlining the company’s main values.
Almost 15 years ago, BNP Paribas decided to structure its actions by forming a dedicated team and committee, consisting of 35 Diversity Officers and representing the 74 countries where the Group operates, as well as all of its business lines and functions. “Promoting diversity and inclusion” thus became one of the company’s 12 CSR commitments in 2012.
Many different actions
BNP Paribas has based its policy on three priorities that we pursue on an international level:
Professional equality between women and men
The Group notably set the target of reaching 25% representation of women on its Executive Committees and more than 30% among Senior Manager positions by 2020. BNP Paribas was one of the first companies to sign the “Women Empowerment Principles (WEP)” and partner with the UN’s HeForShe campaign, which promotes gender equality worldwide by mobilizing men to work for this cause.
Multiculturalism and Diversity of origin
this is done by partnering with organizations committed to this issue (Télémaque, NQT, Club XXIème siècle, etc.), by developing specific networks connected to personal backgrounds, by undertaking actions to diversify applicant pools (Sciences-Po) and by combating stereotypes (recruiting + careers…).
As a signatory of the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Business and Disability Network Charter, BNP Paribas promotes the employment of people with disabilities, takes measures to ensure job retention and encourages universal accessibility.
In many countries, BNP Paribas has also joined the fight against homophobia and transphobia, notably through the signing of the L’Autre Cercle Charter by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé in 2015, as well as the bank’s recent work with the United Nations to publish an International Code of Conduct, which aims to fight workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Age diversity and intergenerational performance are also central aspects of our actions (France, Italy and Belgium).
The project’s success is also attributable to the commitment of all our employees, who have notably played an active role in the networks set up to enact this policy on a daily basis and to help take our efforts even further everywhere around the world. Some examples include:
- Afrinity, open to all employees who want to share their affinity for the African continent. African Heritage (AHBNG) in the United States. Friends of Africa in Belgium
- All Abroad, intended for international employees living in France to simplify their integration and daily life.
- Happy Men, a network of men committed to professional equality between women and men by improving work-life balance.
- Mixcity, a French association promoting gender equality at work (present in 20 countries and comprising over 4,000 women).
- Pride France, open to all employees in the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, Italy and Portugal, primarily LGBTI and their allies.
A virtuous ecosystem
Working in favor of diversity and inclusion also means providing training to all employees. By delivering more awareness opportunities (e-learning conference, signing charters, etc.), BNP Paribas can ensure its actions have a real impact on its employees.
BNP Paribas also coordinates the signing of “Diversity Charters” in certain countries where it does business. For example, in 2016 and 2017, it signed charters in Senegal, Morocco and Ivory Coast, through a collective process involving multiple companies.
The goal is to encourage these values to expand beyond the company’s own walls: by sharing best practices with suppliers, as well as customers and all stakeholders (schools and universities, associations, etc.). In this way, BNP Paribas endeavors to create a more inclusive and responsible society.
What is the regulatory context?
France now regulates certain issues relating to diversity: obligation for companies with more than 20 employees to respect a 6% quota of employees with disabilities in its workforce, while companies with more than 50 employees must be covered by an agreement or action plan on professional equality between men and women and another pertaining to employment of seniors.
In Europe, while the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of November 4, 1950 already prohibited all types of discrimination, the continent has since added several new texts:
- the European Directive of June 29, 2000, known as the "Race Directive," which protects European citizens against any form of discrimination based on their origin,
- the European Directive of November 27, 2000, known as the "Employment Directive," which aims to support integration of all workers into the job market.
In France, the Diversity Charter of 2004 was a key turning point. This ethical commitment encourages businesses to respect and promote diversity within their teams. BNP Paribas was one of the first companies to sign this charter.