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As a forward-thinking and ambitious organisation, HSBC needs a diverse work force to grow in what is a new banking environment. The bank has moved its UK head office to Birmingham and this represents a new dawn for the business.

As it develops, it wants more women to play a crucial role within its high-performing, inclusive, connected and sustainable working environment.

The company has been striving hard to improve its gender balance in recent years.

Initiatives such as mentoring schemes and its professional returner programme have helped to get more women into senior positions to act as role models.

The bank already has one of the best records among FTSE 100 companies and it has set an aspirational gender balance target for leadership roles .

There are some important and influential areas of the business where women are already thriving.

 
Emma Cutler, Senior Manager, Financial Crime

Emma Cutler, for example, is senior manager, financial crime dealing with sensitive issues such as money laundering. She is part of an 18-strong team working in a fast-paced environment. However, she says the bank encourages staff to work flexibly in an industry which has a reputation for 9-to-5 presenteeism.

“I have a seven-year-old daughter so things like compressed hours (I work five days’ hours over four days) means I get extra time to spend with her or to help my elderly parents,” says Cutler.

HSBC also wants women to consider how their skills might be transferable so that they can progress their career at the bank.

“There is a lot of respect here with diversity and inclusion initiatives and societies. We are also encouraged to contribute ideas to improve the gender balance.”

HSBC’s head of learning talent development for diversity & inclusion Joanne Rye agrees it is important women can develop their skills so they advance within the business.

“We need to understand our key talent pools and attract the best people for the new roles while ensuring our employee makeup is representative of the customer base we serve,” she says.

Rye believes all women can thrive in HSBC’s high performance but flexible culture.

“I haven’t been at HSBC for that long but I’ve worked across a number of sectors from retail to information technology and from supply chain to manufacturing, and part of my strategy is to ensure we weave diversity and inclusion into everything we do.” 

In any business women should be recognised for what they do and how they do it. This means training is a vital ingredient to future progression and to ensure there is a gender balance throughout the organisation.

 

Michelle Cook, Regulatory Affairs Manager

Regulatory affairs manager Michelle Cook has worked for the bank for 30 years and recently gained a further qualification in compliance.

“It is important to keep your knowledge up to date,” she says. “Before I was in this role, I was in Regulatory Compliance but in data privacy, so the bank funded an external course for me to get a further qualification.”

Cook has also completed a cognitive behaviour therapy course which has boosted her confidence.

“I’m naturally an introvert at work, but now I’ll try and speak up and speak to people I don’t know, which has been especially important since the move to Birmingham,” she says. “It’s a whole new team, a whole new city, a whole new everything. It’s outside my comfort zone, but I’m doing it.”

 

Reena Kumari, UK Financial Crime Compliance Manager

HSBC’s UK financial crime compliance manager Reena Kumari says women can develop at a company if there is a supportive atmosphere.

“There are instances where we’ll receive urgent requests and the business will rely on us to provide guidance quickly,” she says. “Everyone must be dependable because we work together to often meet same-day deadlines.”

Kumari has only been in her role for six months and is excited about upcoming career and training opportunities.

“The bank has offered to support me through the International Compliance Association’s Diploma in Anti-Money Laundering,” she says. “I’ve also had additional learning support to work independently by focusing on strengthening my skills and sharing my knowledge from previous roles.”

HSBC understands the business and social benefits of gender diversity but accepts there is always more to do to ensure women fulfil their potential in such a traditional industry sector.