WOMEN & MILLENNIALS IN BANKS

HATTON NATIONAL BANK IS ON A MISSION TO CREATE AN INCLUSIVE, HAPPY AND BRIGHT WORKFORCE

Millennials and women struggle to conform to traditional business structures, as the norms and standards have been designed without considering their unique needs. However, over the past few years, businesses like Hatton National Bank have started thinking and working towards adapting to recent changes around women, millennials and future workplaces.

“We recognise that women and millennials are key to the success of today’s workforce,” says HNB’s Chief Human Resource Officer Chiranthi Cooray. Generally, Sri Lankan women prefer to have a career in the financial services industry as it provides stability and vast opportunities for career progression. Luckily, women’s natural qualities of being empathetic, attentive to other’s needs and details, along with their professional qualifications, have been a definite plus for the banking industry as well.

In this interview, Cooray discusses HNB’s plans to attract key segments to achieve the right mix of diversity in the digital age.

1. Women in Banks
“When I joined the bank in 2010, there were a number of women in senior leadership positions. Now, the story has only got stronger, as we intentionally developed policies and systems to ensure that women get recognised and are encouraged to continue working,” says Cooray.

It’s common for a bank to expect its staff to be transferable in service, especially when operating a nationwide bank with more than 250 branches spread across the island. “The challenge lies in finding the right balance when promoting women workforce participation and a conducive work environment, as a banking job usually requires transfers. However, we are extremely mindful and sensitive about their needs, especially during transfers, and pay attention to even trivial details like the commute, etc,” she adds. In fact, their transfer policy acknowledges the fact that those getting a transfer can appeal if they have any difficulty with the move, such as transportation or a family member’s health.

2. Flexi-work arrangements
The bank wants to attract more women and prevent them from quitting work due to family commitments, and is thereby working towards providing part-time, flexible or work-at-home options. “We are working towards accommodating flexible work options, as we emphasize more on diversity and inclusiveness. However, progress within these areas is subject to the accepted boundaries and regulatory framework. We need an evolution of the labour law and the regulators’ approval to achieve this mission,” says Cooray. More and more women exit the workforce when their biological clock starts ticking, and as they form their own families. “We consciously take a sensitive and sensible approach regarding the issues faced by ouremployees,” she says.

A family-friendly work culture is essential when working towards increasing the women workforce.

“WHEN I JOINED THE BANK IN 2010, THERE WERE A NUMBER OF WOMEN IN SENIOR LEADERSHIP POSITIONS. NOW, THE STORY HAS ONLY GOT STRONGER.”

3. Rise of Millennials
“Our policies need to change to suit the current generation as well, especially with the rapid transformation. Millennials will not stay for 25 years in one organisation; they come and go very quickly. Their thinking patterns are entirely different, and as a business, we understand these changes and approach the situation accordingly,” says Cooray.

Job roles are changing with increased automation and digitization, where people do more meaningful, intelligent and innovative work. Mundane, routine tasks will be taken over by machines, and humans can spend more time on face-to-face interaction. There is a lot of dialogue about this, but when it happens, we need to be prepared.

4. Employee and work experience
“We have accelerated our project to create positive employee experiences, where rich relationships, happy and bright people automatically become your business advocates and brand ambassadors. We do a lot of work on understanding whether our strategies are aligned with the aspirations of the changing generations.”

Happy is when employees feel aligned to the whole purpose of the orgnisation and the value they create. HNB wants to create an inclusive system, where there is a place for everyone in the eco-system.

“We are working towards ensuring that our policy cascades down the line to benefit our employees, keeping our ships in motion,” Cooray concludes.

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