This is a familiar challenge for ANZ where, thanks to our geographical footprint across 33 markets, we have an incredibly culturally diverse workforce. But that diversity, disappointingly, isn’t reflected at many of our leadership tables. This is why improving the representation of culturally diverse leaders is a priority in our diversity and inclusion strategy.
“You can’t be what you can’t see” is a popular diversity catch-cry. The recent inauguration of Kamala Harris as the first (but not the last) female, Black, South Asian Vice President of the United States has emphasised the importance and power of representation and visibility.
The Leading for Change report identified four main ways organisations can strengthen professional development to unlock the potential of employees from culturally diverse backgrounds:
- identifying more diverse employees with leadership potential;
- providing better mentoring and sponsorship opportunities;
- empowering diverse employees;
- using networks to support diversity and inclusion.
ANZ’s cultural diversity and inclusion network, known as DIMES (Diversity, Inclusion, Mentoring, Excellence, Success), was established by our Head of International Segment Private Banking, Grace Bacon, and a group of employees who recognised an opportunity to bring people from different cultures together with allies to accelerate the progression of culturally diverse leadership at the bank while creating a forum for equal voice.
Since its launch in late 2018, DIMES has helped connect and empower employees from culturally diverse backgrounds through its mentoring program. Mentees are paired with leaders who provide mentoring and coaching support to help identify and develop those essential ‘soft skills’ required to advance in their careers.
Mentors also benefit from the program by developing increased understanding and empathy for the challenges faced by culturally diverse employees. Mentoring partners meet five to 10 times over a six-month period to discuss progress against previously agreed-upon objectives and provide advice on challenges. To date, 150 mentees have completed the program with approximately half of the first cohort progressing into more senior roles or securing internal secondment opportunities.
In 2019, ANZ sponsored Grace to participate in the University of Sydney’s Dr John Yu Fellowship program which aims to address the gap in leadership development for high-achieving multicultural professionals by enhancing participants’ strategic awareness of cultural diversity and leadership and building a network of likeminded colleagues.
Grace says the Fellowship reinforced to her that “visibility and representation are essential to achieve a monumental shift in the leadership landscape”. Grace is passionate about mentoring and its power to accelerate careers. She sees mentoring as “a mutually-beneficial relationship where both mentor and mentee can gain personal and professional insights from their interactions through sharing experiences and knowledge”.