The UK ExCo of Societe Generale, a leading European financial services group, wanted to build on its ambitious diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) agenda by making inclusion, and more inclusive conversations, a cornerstone of life in the firm. They rightfully saw that this would make their people more productive, improve employee retention and be a vital component of their wider risk management strategy, recognising that how well you communicate with your manager and how safe and included you feel with them is the key to any risk management approach. The aim of the project was therefore to encourage their workforce to connect with inclusion on an emotional level, and empower the bank’s own people leaders to eventually take the lead and begin facilitating their own conversations about inclusion at work.
Over four months, 89% of the entire UK team took part in face-to-face sessions, known as Phase 1, designed to help them connect with inclusion in their own way, and to feel more confident to talk about aspects of their identity and lived experience at work. We identified three cohorts in this work; inclusion leaders (senior influencers and change agents), managers, and other employees. Each cohort had its own high-energy sessions, adapted in real time based on the fantastic input we were receiving. Through explaining behaviour models, group discussions and experiential, actor-based learning, we looked at what bringing your authentic self to work actually means, how to create opportunities without barriers, and how to deal with microaggressions.
As phase 1 developed, we designed and delivered an online learning platform using the material generated, including a step-by-step guide on how to lead inclusive conversations. The inclusion leaders were then briefed face-to-face as they embarked on phase 2 – facilitating their own conversations at work.
The project was received with enthusiasm and high levels of engagement, and continues to objectively move the needle for inclusion at the company. We measured, at the beginning and end of the sessions, how comfortable each participant felt at engaging in inclusion conversations with their colleagues, which showed a significant, marked improvement. Phase 2 is now being rolled out by the inclusion leaders.
Our contact at the firm told us: “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is a strategic priority for the business, and we’re delighted that this initiative continues to play a key part in promoting a fully inclusive culture that empowers everyone to be themselves at work and achieve their potential. By creating an environment that enables our people to feel comfortable to share their lived experiences through open, inclusive conversations, we’re helping to make a difference to the cultural and behavioural shift”.
HRD Connect: Banking on DEIB: Societe Generale aces inclusion training with behaviour models and actor-based learning
The People Space: How Societe Generale’s 2,000-strong UK banking team built a culture of conscious inclusion