“Making progress qualitatively”
“40% women on the Executive Committee as well as in the G 100 by 2025”. This target announced in early February by Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, CEO of BNP Paribas, may have gone unnoticed amid announcements of the Group’s results for 2020 and the implementation of a new organisation of the general management for 2021. However, this is an ambitious target even at a time when expectations for diversity and professional equality are steadily rising, particularly with regard to CAC 40 companies. “It is important to set targets with visible horizons that enable us to make progress and to do so in a very qualitative way,” Jean-Laurent Bonnafé said.
Long-standing commitmentsFor the leading bank in the eurozone, this is not a new topic. The first founding actions date back to 2004 with the creation of a Diversity Department within the Group, the signature of the first Diversity Agreement by BNP Paribas SA, the launch of the MixCity network of female employees, the signature of the Women’s Empowerment Principles, the implementation of a global diversity governance system at Group level, etc.
“The Group’s ambition in terms of equal rights between women and men has grown steadily over time, marked by a number of key milestones,” says Caroline Courtin, Head of Diversity and Inclusion. “Always with clear quantitative objectives, which we monitor very closely.” The very mission of the Bank is what underlies this ambitious approach. “We are first and foremost a company at the service of its clients,” she explains. “Accordingly, in order to serve their interests best, we cannot have teams in which only one gender is represented or over-represented. We must work alongside and support our clients by mirroring their diversity.”
We must work alongside and support our clients by mirroring their diversity
“HeForShe ” commitments
Convinced that this is a necessity, the Group joined the UN’s HeForShe movement in 2015 and, in March 2018, Jean-Laurent Bonnafé became a “Thematic Champion” for 3 years. The Group has committed to increasing gender diversity in Human Resources, which is predominantly female, and in Global Markets, which is predominantly male. “Without diversity within teams, dominant ways of thinking become the norm and shift the balance, whereas what we need above all is innovation and creativity, which can only come from comparing points of view,” says the Group’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion. In 2021, as the CEO’s term as “Thematic Champion” came to an end, our targets have been met and even exceeded!
These results were made possible in particular through the use of “nudge” techniques. “Nudging is a gentle incentive to adopt virtuous behaviour, vis-à-vis oneself, the community, the planet and the company,” says Charline Drosson Mussard, Project Manager for Diversity and Inclusion. This approach, based on behavioural economics, consists of creating an architecture of choice that encourages the adoption of the desired behaviour without constraint. Although applied in many areas, nudging played a role as part of the Group’s HeForShe targets. Examples include having at least one woman present at each job interview for a candidate for the Global Markets business line and ensuring that men contribute to the drafting of the “HR Business Partner” job description, which was traditionally drafted by women managers. This way, the required skills, missions and challenges of the position are written in terms that speak to both women and men.
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“Enabling all to express their talents without restrictions, by being in the right role, is a key element of the company’s success”
Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, 5 February 2021
Towards the feminisation of IT
Nudging has proved to be effective and accordingly will be extended to other business lines within BNP Paribas, first and foremost IT. The Group’s IT function has set an ambitious target of recruiting 1,000 women within three years, to increase the proportion of women in the sector from 32% to 37%, which will consolidate the Group’s lead over other companies in the sector. “Our commitment to HeForShe has been a really dynamic launch pad,” says Caroline Courtin. “It showed us that we were capable of setting very precise targets and allocating the resources needed to achieve them. The fact that our IT department has taken up the subject of gender diversity proves to us that the approach is the right one and gives us confidence for the future.”
women are increasingly present in the Group’s so-called “key” populations
Across all business lines, it is also interesting to recall that women are increasingly present in the Group’s so-called “key” populations, once again exceeding the targets set for 2020. This is a long process, which of course depends not only on the actions of BNP Paribas, but also on those of the public authorities and training organisations in particular. “Imbalances remain, both in the Group and more broadly in our society,” notes Caroline Courtin. But at BNP Paribas, the movement is well underway. The latest appointments of women to the Executive Committee represent indisputable and legitimate steps forward, which is good news for everyone. .”This body, which was exclusively male in 2011, will be 30% female in May 2021 and 40% female in 2025. “We can be collectively proud of this progress and this strong ambition for shared governance,” concludes the Group’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion.
Women and banking in history
HeForShe includes also the “Agrifed” programme
Agrifed is a climate-resilient agriculture project. Its goal? To empower 15,000 Senegalese women in the rice sector, who do not have the same access to resources, land and finance as men and are among the first victims of climate change. As part of the HeForShe programme, BNP Paribas’ support, which is an extension of its actions to promote women’s entrepreneurship around the world, has enabled these women to develop their own businesses and become financially independent.
Photos : ©Pixel-Shot / BNP Paribas