The bank for a changing world

Diversity: a growing commitment at BNP Paribas

  • 28.10.2016

Promoting diversity and fighting against all forms of discrimination are essential challenges for any company. These concerns also run deep throughout the banking industry. Eager to develop a workforce that reflects the diversity of their customers, banks implement nondiscriminatory recruiting processes, pursue new initiatives and take concrete steps. These concerns have guided our practices at BNP Paribas for over 12 years.

Keeping a close watch over diversity issues 

In 2010, the Observatoire des métiers de la banque (Observatory of Banking Professions) published a report entitled "Diversity and Recruiting in Banking".  The study aimed to respond to several challenges that banks have and continue to face

  1. Rising tensions, whose effects had already begun to emerge on the job market for banking-administration-finance graduates 
  2. The need to restore a balanced age distribution throughout the profession
  3. And the importance of hiring more people with disabilities (regulations in France require at least 6%)

The Observatory’s first study also included a list of actions taken to achieve this objective. These efforts fall into one of two categories: 

  1. Nationwide programs, often initiated by the French government, such as the "Plan Espoir Banlieues" (Hope for Urban Neighborhoods Plan), which led the French Banking Federation to sign a national commitment to employing young people from these neighborhoods, or "Coup de pouce pour l’insertion” (Helping Hand for Integration), which facilitates employment for young people from disadvantaged urban areas and with little or no education.
  2. Specific actions within the banking profession, particularly including training programs to enable job seekers or young people lacking qualifications to access banking professions, or actions in favor of integrating people with disabilities (like the operations led together with InserFormabanques, operations carried out through “DU Passerelle", the HandiFormaBanques initiative, etc.).

Major banking groups band together 

As banks continue to set up initiatives on the company level, they are also collaborating on ambitious projects

For example, HandiFormaBanques is an interbank association (law of 1901) created in June 2007, which brings together the Centre de formation de la profession bancaire (CFPB), BNP Paribas, HSBC France, LCL, Société Générale and Crédit du Nord. Its mission is : to promote training and professional integration for people with disabilities.  

Frequently using work-study training programs, the initiative has already led to more than 600 recruiting operations across France. It also boasts a 60% workforce re-entry rate for those taking part in the program. 

The report concludes that “operations are numerous, diverse, innovative and voluntary”, underlining the “concerted policies that receive substantial resources”. 

BNP Paribas leading the way since 2004

Within the BNP Paribas group, discrimination is a key issue that the bank has long taken into account: 

  1. In 2004, BNP Paribas signed and enacted a Diversity Charter
  2. Since 2006, risk of discrimination was included in the 30 major operational risks facing the Group

Over the years, the Group’s diversity policy has been steadily reinforced through several company agreements. For example, the Group signed a disability agreement in 2012 (renewed in 2015 and signed unanimously), a Generation contract and a Diversity agreement in 2013 (both renewed in 2016). At the same time, BNP Paribas obtained a Diversity Label in 2012, attesting to its adoption of best practices and reflecting the Group’s commitments. 

Finally, the Group has put in place: 

  1. Diversity training to enhance employee awareness  
  2. Measures to improve workplace equality between women and men 
  3. And a Disability policy to promote recruiting and professional adaptation, via the Disability Unit 

In June 2016 BNP Paribas, ever the pioneer, became the first French bank to sign the ILO Global Business and Disability Network’s charter on disability inclusion. This global commitment to disability inclusion reaffirms the Group’s own pledge: in over 20 countries where it operates, BNP Paribas has signed agreements or taken measures to facilitate the hiring and retention of people with disabilities.

BNP Paribas, first French bank to sign the ILO Global Business charter

A long-term commitment 

In 2015, BNP Paribas celebrated the 10th anniversary of ‘Projet Banlieues’, a project launched in 2005 through its Foundation and branch network. To mark this anniversary, BNP Paribas encouraged its financial and human resources to respond to two major challenges: 

  • Employment, by supporting education with a 60% increase in grants
  • Social cohesion, through support for local associations and by opening the ‘Projet Banlieues’ to Corporate and Individual customers through different initiatives

Recognized commitment from the banking world

In 2015, the Observatory of Banking Professions put together a second version of the study,  focusing on the following:

  1. Recording the practices put in place to promote diversity in recruiting
  2. Analyzing how these practices were implemented, and what difficulties they may have encountered, in order to share feedback and experience
  3. Identifying the support methods used by banks to help job seekers enter the job market

The new edition not only revealed a significant evolution in practices and actions, diversity having become a reality in the banking world. It also showed the active commitment by banks towards three different groups: people with disabilities, young people and seniors

New challenges, new objectives

Several new challenges have added to those initially identified. And once again, BNP Paribas has become a precursor with the October 2015 signing of the LGBT commitment charter drafted by the association ‘L’Autre Cercle’. BNP Paribas is the first French bank to sign this charter, which formalizes its commitment to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The Group already enjoyed a head start on the issue: in January 2013, BNP Paribas in the United States (where LGBT issues are much more advanced) was named the “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign. 

The BNP Paribas group has since then been ranked as the world’s second most gay-friendly company by Workplace Pride. 

Raising awareness among all employees

Of course, fighting against all forms of discrimination at the company relies heavily on the Human Resources department, especially in regards to:  

  • Carrying out nondiscriminatory recruiting processes
  • Organizing training programs for managers
  • Raising employee awareness about stereotypes and unconscious bias
  • Leading awareness campaigns, or initiatives aiming to stimulate discussion, aimed at all employees

BNP Paribas aims to respond to this goal in part through special events organized for the “week of diversity and inclusion in the workplace”, which the Group holds on an annual basis. 

BNP Paribas has also become one of the first companies in France to take action to meet the requirements of the Copé-Zimmerman law, which mandates gender parity on Boards of Directors. This provides yet another way for BNP Paribas to lead by example, as the bank invites its managers and employees to get active in favor of gender parity