Enabling Women Leaders At A Global Bank
This global bank is one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organizations. Serving around 38 million customers in 67 countries and territories in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, North America and Latin America.
The bank identified YSC Consulting as a partner in this journey, owing to our awareness of the key psychological drivers and levers of success needed to develop and help women leaders grow. Additionally the strong benchmarks we offered, the deep rooted understanding we had about the bank’s values and culture.
The Indian arm of this bank was keen to address the relatively low female representation within its most senior roles. While some progress had been made in recent years, a significant boost was required in order to achieve specific targets the bank had set for itself.
While a range of developmental interventions were already in place, there was a need to focus on ‘Band Four’ women leaders in the bank and provide opportunities for self-exploration and discovery in a way that prepared them for future leadership. There was also a need to benchmark these ‘Band Four’ women leaders against women leaders at ‘Band Three’ across the bank, male leaders across the bank and leaders at senior levels in the financial services industry.
Our starting frame for this intervention was to look at this as a ‘leadership’ issue that the bank faced, not simply a diversity issue. YSC partnered with the bank to design a program called ‘Ascend’.
This was targeted at 30 women leaders and positioned as a career development intervention for all women leaders at this band. The program involved:
This phase was focused on helping the women leaders identify their uniqueness through a individual assessment, followed by feedback and action planning.
Common group coaching and development themes were identified at the end of this phase, one critical theme being for the cohort to move from loyal, compliant, collaborative and operationally excellent managers, to leaders who showed up in the organization in a confident and strategic manner, able to influence and navigate the system through change.
This phase was targeted to helping the women leaders explore their full potential through a combination of group workshops and peer coaching support.
Workshops were designed around the common development themes identified for the cohort, namely: clarifying their leadership purpose; becoming better influencers; and developing breakthrough and transformational thinking.
Additionally the women were divided into peer coaching cohorts of four members, to support each other through the development journey and help develop their industry perspective and networking skills.
Each cohort was attached with an EXCO member who became their sponsor, ensuring we exposed the women to senior women leaders across industries in the workshops, so they could hear from successful role models and take valuable lessons for their own development. The women were also given ‘learning expeditions’ as projects to work on in their cohort under the guidance of the sponsor.
YSC facilitated the coaching conversations, helping to make these conversations constructive and challenging each other’s assumptions at the same time.
Career Management and Conversations
We also equipped women leaders with skills and tools to manage their careers by being clear about their aspirations, reaching out to broader stakeholders, identifying and working with career sponsors and mentors and creating broader visibility for themselves in the system.
YSC ran a career framing workshop that allowed the participants to be clear on where they were in their career journey, where they wanted to go and what it would take for them to get there. A few EXCO sponsors were also invited to share their career journeys and this served as a role modelling conversation for participants. The journey ended with a conversation with Line Managers to share the progress they had made over the past year and the new aspirations they had for their careers.
The target when we started this program was for five women from this cohort be ‘promotion ready’ by the end of the program. There have been seven promotions from this cohort to date and almost 70% of the remainder have moved laterally to roles that are challenging and stretching, including to new functions, businesses and geographies. Women have been seen to be making behavioral shifts in relation to their own development and the sponsors have played a key role in opening their networks to women and rallying for their success in the organization.
There is increased buy-in from senior leaders to take on mentoring and career sponsorship roles for the women. Also the women leaders now understand their own thinking and mental models that can be holding them back and are looking forward to getting tools and skills to break through and crack the code for success.
- A second cohort of women at the same level will go through a similar program.
Conversations have begun in relation to ‘Bands One and Two’, to focus on emerging talent.
- We are now bringing male colleagues into the conversation, i.e. focusing on gender intelligent talent more broadly, and therefore developing initiatives for both men and women.
- Across the board, running conscious inclusion sessions as a way to build ability to develop and retain diverse leaders in the organization.
“YSC has worked as an extension of our own team to ensure our D&I program was a thumping success. The research base, passion and benchmarks that YSC brought to this issue made them a credible partner. In addition, the flexibility they showed in working with us in an emergent manner, staying alive to feedback we were receiving through the process, and pushing themselves and us to be cutting edge in what we were doing for our talent, made this initiative a huge success for the bank.”LTROD Head