Building a more accessible bank

At ANZ, we've been on a journey to promote greater disability inclusion from our senior leadership right down to our grassroots employee led network. Although it's not something brand new for us, there's always more we can do.

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The recently released Human Rights and Technology Report was a significant step forward in shaping how we think about the challenges of accessible technology. We know how important technology is for everyday life, and we know this has only increased with the changes brought to our lives through the Covid pandemic. The report highlights the human rights implications of this- access to technology allows people to realise and fulfil other rights – economic, civil, social, political rights. It enables us to go to work, to communicate with other people, to access information. And banking, of course, is part of that.

“The work we're doing around accessibility is fundamentally linked to people's human rights.”

While ANZ has had a human rights statement for some time, there's an opportunity to strengthen awareness that the work we're doing around accessibility is fundamentally linked to people's human rights. The rights of our people to be part of an inclusive workplace and the rights of our customers to bank with us independently, conveniently and with dignity.

Joining the team

Accessibility has been a focus at ANZ for some time. Our accessibility plan has been publicly available for almost 15 years and is updated about every three years. This plan sets out a series of commitments covering everything from the design of our properties, our hiring and career progression practices, product and service design and more.

In property, it's about going beyond the minimum building standards required. It's about deeply understanding how to enable dignified access to our buildings – both in retail branch environments and in workplaces.

For hiring and careers, we think about everything from how potential candidates apply for jobs at ANZ and the hiring and onboarding experience through to what it’s like to work at ANZ if you have a disability.   

As far as possible, we want to create a level playing field for recruitment – this extends from our systems to policies and interview practices. Once someone has joined ANZ and they're a member of our team, then we try to identify and fix any barriers within the organisation. This could be anything from ensuring we caption our videos through to making sure all of the tools and applications that people use at work are accessible.

And alongside all of that is building a psychologically safe culture. We won’t always get things 100 per cent right so we need to strive for an environment where people feel comfortable to speak up. There needs to be clear signals from the organisation that we support everyone's participation, and we don't want anyone to be excluded. We need that frank and fearless feedback to know when perhaps something isn’t working out right for an individual.

Test and learn

The plan also includes commitments which cover the way we design products and services. This is particularly relevant to the human rights report because almost all of our customer offerings will have a technology component to them.  This is not unique to ANZ.  In recent years we have made important changes to recognise how early in the product lifecycle we need to think about accessibility. We know the earlier on it is incorporated, the better the outcome for our customers, and for the broader community. The next step change for ANZ, in my opinion, is building on our testing approach. We need to actively encourage insights from people with lived experience using our products and services and integrate this in our processes so we know that what we are designing is accessible.

Testing is important because an organisation can work through a checklist of accessibility standards and guidelines and a product may appear to comply. But when someone with a particular need uses the product, you may discover it's not as good a user experience for them as it could be.

The team working on the bank’s newest retail banking proposition – ANZ Plus – have embedded this in their inclusive design approach. A diverse range of people with lived experience of disability have been involved in user testing - neurodiverse people, people with cerebral palsy, hearing impairments and beyond. Often accessibility testing can focus on vision impairment- while this remains important, there are other needs that we need to consider in our approach.  While this is the right thing to do, it also brings an opportunity to highlight product improvements that can benefit everyone.

As we refresh our accessibility plan, we will reflect on the importance of bringing a human rights lens to the work we do, and reinforcing that link.  Technology is the gateway to so many aspects of our lives, and while we are embracing the change and the exciting innovations around us, we must ensure they are accessible to everyone in the community.

Meg Dalling is Customer Vulnerability and Accessibility Lead at ANZ

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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