Guest Q&A – HSBC’s Global Head of Inclusion

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 Carolanne Minashi joins us to talk inclusion and polarisation at work in 2023.

1. As Global Head of Inclusion at HSBC, what are the areas you spend most of your time working on?

I spend a lot of time focused on data and working with data analysts to find patterns. The data never lies, and it is the thing I come back to, time and time again, to check what is really going on – not what we hope or believe is. Data also has a unique role in proving the efficacy of a particular piece of work. Unfortunately, I know of too many examples of well-intended and well-funded work in the diversity & inclusion space that created no impact.

My other main focus is working with our Global Leaders. From Day 1 in the role, I knew that I had to create a meaningful connection with the entire executive team if we were going to create systemic change. My role is to work with them to help them be successful in leading the change we need, by using data to challenge them and spotlight opportunities to do better. Just working with the one or two advocates around the executive committee table is never going to be enough – it's everybody’s shared business objective.

Ultimately, no two days are the same. I often have a clear idea of what I’m going to do with my time and get sucked into something completely different – I have learned to be kinder to myself about this and trust that whatever I end up focusing on is the right use of my time at that moment.

2. We have an idea that inclusion means something a bit different for everyone; what does it mean to you?’

To me, inclusion is a sense of belonging and psychological safety for everyone – not just a select few.

That’s just a posh way of saying that people should feel secure, and that the people they work with have got their backs. It should feel okay to raise a contrary view on something - because that contrary view will make the thing better and we will all be more successful as a result.

A good litmus test of psychological safety is how you feel when you’re preparing to go into a one-to-one meeting with your boss. Does that feel a little bit like going into the head teacher’s office, or does it feel like you’re meeting your student mentor?

If you are interested in reading-up more on psychological safety  there’s a really good piece from McKinsey here.

3. You have over 25 years’ experience in Financial Services. What do you see as the main challenges to inclusion that are specific to the industry?

I don’t think that financial services is different from the other sectors, we face the same challenges as every other organisation. Being in a global organisation of over 200,000 employees will have more similar challenges to organisations around that size from other sectors, than a purely national financial services company operating in just one market.

To that end, the inclusion challenges and opportunities for HSBC come from our international footprint and the breadth of our product offerings.  

I tend to look at our inclusion strategy with a principles-based approach, rather than a policy-based approach. For example, we can all agree on the principle that people with disabilities should be fully supported to make a full contribution to work, and that our customers with disabilities are important to our business. If you can get clear on a principle, policy and practice can flow from that in a more nuanced way that just makes sense.

4. At byrne·dean, we’re all becoming aware of the impact of increasing polarisation in the workplaces we work in, which is regularly coming up when we’re training, investigating, or helping with strategy. Have you noticed this too and, if so, where is it most obvious?

There is a constant stream of headlines that get distilled to soundbites that stay with people. Social media creates echo-chambers where people get repeated versions of the same content, all of which can cement a view of what may or may not be happening.

I’ve seen the results of this play out in the workplace. Recently, I’ve experienced people repeating soundbites they’ve heard as facts, for instance the idea that ‘people’ believe that promoting gender equality has gone far enough.

This is where it’s so important to have our actual data to hand – by playing what is actually true back to our colleagues and stakeholders, we can counter some of those soundbites.

5. What do you think are the 3 most important things right now that business leaders in Financial Services can do to make their workplaces kinder and fairer?

1. Build Inclusive Leaders

2. Build Inclusive Leaders

3. Build Inclusive Leaders

An inclusive leader is someone who actually delivers the culture of psychological safety I mentioned above; who feels more like a student mentor than a head teacher.

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