Why inclusive employment is a strategic asset

When communities flourish, so do banks. That’s a key reason why the financial services industry works hard on community engagement efforts. We do want to be good corporate citizens but it’s also in our best interests.

This means as communities grow and change banks need to reflect this. A vibrant, diverse and inclusive workforce is a strategic asset for businesses and critical to succeeding in the modern market.

"A vibrant, diverse and inclusive workforce is a strategic asset for businesses and critical to succeeding in the modern market."
Phil Chronican, CEO ANZ Australia

The business case for compassionate employee policies has been well-made. Companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion see a noticeable uplift in staff engagement and productivity. Research shows a correlation between the perception of a company’s inclusion and the overall performance of its staff. Yet it goes beyond that. 

ANZ aims to build a diverse workforce that is representative of our customer base. Through partnerships like Given the Chance, our program for marginalised jobseekers, we can drive change and support those who may otherwise be disadvantaged. 

In the same way, the financial sector must be committed to improving economic and social inclusion in the communities in which we live and work. 

Beyond skills

For the sector as whole, the value of programs like Given the Chance goes beyond the job skills and opportunities. It’s not just the participants who gain meaningful learning and development opportunities. 

Existing employees gain an opportunity to be a leader, a coach, mentor and buddy – and the commitment our people apply to ensuring the participants feel fully supported goes beyond the call of duty. 

For ANZ as an employer, the program has helped us grow and diversify our workforce and encourage deeper awareness of the importance of social benefit and inclusion in workplace communities.

Given the Chance

First launched by The Brotherhood of St Laurence in 2002, Given the Chance provides job seekers from around Australia, often from refugee backgrounds, skills and experience needed to enter the workforce. The broad program covers everything from mentoring, work placement, training to expanding social networks and creating constructive interaction. 

ANZ became involved with the program in 2007 and recently celebrated our 100th participant in the program. We are now nearing 110. Astoundingly, 78 per cent of the participants in Given the Chance have gone on to take up permanent work with ANZ. It’s a program I’m incredibly proud of. 

Tony Nicholson, executive director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, says programs like Given the Chance represent the best kind of community business partnership. 

“Here is a big bank and a community welfare agency … working together to achieve a good outcome for people who seek only a fair chance to demonstrate their potential and ability to contribute to our economy,” he says. 

“At the Brotherhood of St Laurence, we believe that for those who can work, the best form of social welfare is a job. But there also need to be strong programs and social supports in place for disadvantaged job seekers to be able to find, be trained for and be retained in those jobs.” 

“This is especially so in a fast changing economy with its emphasis on technology and acquisition of other skills, which means workplaces now demand more, not less of all workers.”

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The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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