Interview with Mark Mclane: Making it happen

Mark McLane image

“We are committed to cultivating a working environment in which the unique talents of each employee are fully utilised.”

Having successfully co-hosted a 2015 event in celebration of International Women’s Day, IRG is now even more committed to the Diversity agenda.

The event embraced the UN’s International Women’s Day theme for 2015, ‘Making It Happen,’ and explored the theme, “Stepping Up Together”.

More and more companies are realising the importance of a diverse workforce, gender equality, female leaders and mentors, but change is still slow. Our high profile speakers and participants stimulated the debate as they gave us their views on how to ‘step up the game’.

Earlier this month, we caught up with Mark Mclane, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion with Barclays PLC, who kindly gave his time to answer some of our questions on the topic of ‘Bridging the Gender Gap’.

Do you feel that the business case for diversity at work still warrants further debate for your firm and your competitors?

“There’s absolutely a sound business case. Barclays has employee-led listening groups and we have developed products that benefit customers solely through what we’ve learnt from these groups.

“For example, following on from a discussion on accessible services, we have introduced a range of high-contrast colour schemes for our debit cards with backgrounds that help customers read the information on their card more easily. This includes colour coding to indicate which way to insert it into the ATM, and to differentiate it easily from other cards in their wallet.”

In your opinion, what do you feel is the best way in which companies can attract, and retain diverse candidates?

“We want to ensure our commitment to diversity is embedded in our recruitment and training processes. Barclays has just concluded a two-year leadership programme, mandatory for all managing directors and directors, and 8,000 leaders have unpacked their unconscious bias through talent management. We’ve also invited our recruiting managers to go through the unconscious bias training. Demonstrating real commitment to diversity enables us to ensure we have the right culture internally.”

How do you think the way this issue I being tackled can be improved?

“From our perspective, by not becoming complacent, by constantly asking ourselves if we’re doing enough and reminding ourselves of what we’ve achieved so far.”

What are your views on positive discrimination?

“We are not in favour of quotas. Our Gender Agenda focuses on engaging women and men across the organisation to attract, develop and retain women at all levels. Programmes such as International Women’s Day, the Barclays Global Women in Leadership Forum, sponsorship and mentoring initiatives, enable us to support the considerable achievements of our talented women across our business. We believe we can achieve what we want by changing the way we do things instead of quotas.”

Do you feel that if companies do positively discriminate in the hiring process, they should be transparent in their efforts to create gender balance?

“We are clear on what we want to achieve: at least 25% female board representation in 2015 and at least 28% senior female management by 2018. Making a public commitment ensures we are held to account and also shows employees we are committed to gender diversity. Strengthening colleague engagement is part of Antony Jenkins’ balanced scorecard.”

What role do you feel Search Firms should play in this process?

“Barclays recognises the importance of attracting, retaining, and developing world class professionals. We expect the Search Firms we work with to ensure they search market widely and put best candidate forward irrespective of race, religion or belief, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality or military services. Search Firms should also be open-minded about job-sharing, as we are committed to cultivating a working environment in which the unique talents of each employee are fully utilised. We also want search firms to help us by holding us accountable if we are not selecting the best talent.”

What is next on the Diversity Agenda for you at Barclays?

“One area of additional focus this year is Multigenerational diversity. We’re looking at how we mirror our customer base so that our diversity reflects the diversity of the people we work for. For example, we have no age limit on our apprenticeship scheme and this year we are targeting over-50 workers to transition from one career to another within Barclays. Our apprenticeship scheme is a great opportunity for someone who doesn’t have a FS background to come in to the sector through learning new skills.”

Thank you very much Mr. McLane, these are important ideas and tips for organisations everywhere.

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