Citi: Inclusive Leadership Across 40 Countries

Why Inclusive Leadership is Important to Citi

Given Citi’s presence in more than 100 countries, we cannot operate globally without a workforce that fully reflects the communities and clients we serve. Our diversity strategy is focused around four pillars – management accountability, attracting talent, workforce development and work environment – which we believe focus attention in areas that will have the greatest impact on our business and employees. We have implemented diversity programmes across the organisation to support the strategy and have seen great success in achieving our diversity objectives. We are now ready to build on this with a new narrative.

When Inclusive Leadership becomes embedded in ‘everyday’ leadership behaviour, then we have succeeded – until then we need to focus on it and highlight it.

In 2014 we introduced inclusive leadership as a key part of building and maintaining a diverse organisation. Inclusive leadership is the golden thread that runs through all our processes and procedures; with a leadership team that demonstrates inclusive behaviours, we will get the best out of our diverse workforce and create an environment where everyone feels able to speak up, give their views and ultimately contribute to the innovation that we need to adapt to a changing world.

The Role of Inclusive Leadership in Consumer Business

Citi’s Consumer Business is going through a global cultural transformation, with the key objective of delivering a remarkable service to our customers. One of the key measures used is the Employee Net Promoter Score (ENPS), so understanding how ‘detractors’ can be turned into ‘promoters’ and the role of Inclusive Leadership in this process was of great interest to the Head of Consumer Business. It was therefore vital to make the link between Inclusive Leadership and greater employee engagement, discretionary effort and team collaboration – which all ultimately impacts on the client experience.

“Inclusive Leadership is important to our business primarily because the customers we deal with come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and in order to serve them and to understand their needs, our employees need to reflect that diversity, from the leadership team down.  It starts with a recognition and understanding of your biases, every individual has certain biases – the key is recognising them and having a plan for how you are going to deal with them.” Anil Wadhwani, Head of Consumer Business

The research, masterclasses and webinars also played an important role in presenting opportunities to engage with HR. We found having the head of HR engaged in Inclusive Leadership was key – by engaging the Head of HR, the wider HR team can be brought in and reach out to the business. Engaging with HR should be a primary objective when rolling Inclusive Leadership out to the business as a whole.

Inclusive Leadership Competencies

In order to appeal to the widest possible audience, Citi simplified the language of inclusive leadership to three competencies – Adapt, Relate, Develop. These represent the essential skills, knowledge and behaviours of great inclusive leaders.

  1. Adapt is about recognising the biases individuals have and taking action to change;
  2. Relate focuses on the importance of growing and building relationships with colleagues and
  3. Develop is about taking the time and effort to develop someone. Inclusive leadership is not only for seniors in Citi; everyone can benefit from being more inclusive.

From the 2011 research ‘Pioneer to Mainstream’ we created 3 words which would become our Inclusive Leadership ‘branding’ and with the use of graphics we brought the three competencies to life with an animated video and other materials such as lanyards, posters and presentation and email templates. The key to the success of this, was the simplicity – 3 simple words, yet meaningful enough, that colleagues across our EMEA region could identify with them. Some countries, such as Russia, have also translated them into local language.

The competencies were originally included in Citi’s Diversity Week marketing, which introduced the concept of inclusive leadership and has served as a platform for ongoing work. Since then we have created an ‘Are you an Inclusive Leader?’ electronic banner which has been added to a number of our intranet sites, including our EMEA Diversity Collaborate site which is now the hub for learning more about Inclusive Leadership and other diversity matters at Citi. We have also rolled this out as a self-assessment tool for People Managers

“The Research behind the competencies gave’ Adapt Relate Develop’ credibility – and a compelling story.  It wasn’t just a gimmick that HR had thought up, it was based on solid and proven research which validated our work.” Kate Matthews [Head of Leadership and Executive Development, EMEA]

Citi is also building inclusive leadership into its core leadership development programme. By talking to senior leaders about ‘inclusion’ the business was able to create a connection and ownership which had previously eluded them when talking about ‘diversity’. Citi has also been able to have more honest conversations about how it feels to be in the ‘out’ group with leaders, and it has helped them think more deeply about how to manage their diverse teams cross regionally. The three inclusive leadership competencies have more operational impact and being an inclusive leader is now seen as a critical capability rather than a ‘nice to have’.  Citi’s intranet includes self-assessment tools and a place to learn more about Inclusive Leadership.

For practitioners and those working on this, I would say, small steps are important – don’t be put off – you are making a difference. This was a daily reminder to keep me on track and not be put off by slow progress. There were days when it felt like we were going backwards, but then suddenly it would all move forward again. There are highs and lows and just when you think you should give up, someone will do or say something in a meeting that makes you realize the Inclusive Leadership message is getting through!”

- Denise Cole,
EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Manager

Introducing Inclusive Leadership Across 40 Countries

EMEA Diversity Week reaches more than 40 countries and cities and is supported by the EMEA CEO and all businesses within Citi. Every year the week centres on a particular theme and this year Inclusive Leadership was chosen.

During Diversity Week over 100 Inclusive Leadership-focused discussions took place across more than 40 locations. We particularly emphasised that inclusive leadership is for everyone and targeted events at a level that individual contributors, team leaders and senior business leaders could all engage in.

To ensure that Diversity Week co-ordinators and HR colleagues understood the Inclusive Leadership theme, we set up weekly briefings over a 12 week period. The briefings included expert external speakers such as Gillian Shapiro, sharing tool kits [Who is my inclusive leader tool; 10 Self Assessment Questions; 7 Actions] and research and holding discussions.

We also used the opportunity to talk to senior business leaders about Diversity Week and the importance of Inclusive Leadership, including the need for diversity and inclusion and how Inclusive Leadership can help with this. Throughout Diversity Week we brought in experts to address the senior leadership team and the Head of our Consumer business joined our flagship panel event to discuss Inclusive Leadership with Professor Binna Kandola and others.

“It’s not an easy topic to explain – very few people understood what it was at first and it took a lot of calls and discussions to really get the message across.  We knew that we’d succeeded when we started seeing the number of events that being held across the region, focusing specifically on inclusive leadership and these events being hosted and opened by our senior Country Officers showed real buy-in and commitment to the theme.” Denise Cole [EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Manager]

Our next steps are to use the platform of Diversity Week to deliver information and training around Inclusive Leadership, whilst ensuring it is seen as integral to how we behave and the environment we create. We will also use Diversity Week 2015 to take Inclusive Leadership to the next level.

Building Inclusive Leadership into Core Leadership Development

By talking to senior leaders about inclusion, we created a connection and ownership which had previously eluded them when talking about diversity and meant we could get the right language into the overall leadership development framework. We were also able to have more honest conversations with leaders which have helped them think about how to manage diverse teams cross-regionally. Additionally we have also influenced thinking on new manager development and the development of inclusive leaders is now seen as a core competency. This will continue to be a key area of focus in 2015.

“My involvement in the project was important as I am responsible for leadership development. It allowed us to provide a link with the core leadership training Citi has across the EMEA region. We also trialed an inclusive leadership module which was also significant for the project as it meant we could get the right language into the overall leadership development framework. By talking to our senior leaders about ‘Inclusion’ we are able to create a connection and ownership which had previously eluded them when we talked about ‘Diversity’. We have been able to have more honest conversations about how it feels to be in the ‘out’ group with our Leaders, and it has helped them think more deeply about how to manage their diverse teams cross regionally. These themes have more operational impact than we’ve previously found.” Kate Matthews [Head of Leadership and Executive Development, EMEA]

What We’ve Learnt along the Way

The group support we received was very helpful and the fact that everyone bought into the goal whilst facing similar challenges meant there was a lot of engagement. Having support from other organisations and hearing them speak about the issues they face also helped put some of Citi’s issues into context and was useful when thinking through our challenges.

We found that engaging with business leaders through masterclasses and webinars was a great way for them to hear first-hand about the topic and ask questions. This ‘sows a seed’ and is a great way to turn sceptics into supporters, as well as creating interest to bring people on board.

Another thing we learnt was the importance of partners – for example, HR need to be confident discussing Inclusive Leadership with their business leads as they are in the best position to open conversations on the issue. Providing staff with research, information and toolkits such as manager self-assessment questions, videos and competences is also helpful. Additionally, we found our partnership between D&I and L&D worked extremely well when joined up with shared objectives.

‘Keeping it simple’ became our guiding philosophy as initially very few people understood what inclusive leadership was and some of the concepts around it. We found the research soundbites very useful in this as they were easy to understand and helped us present a credible pitch to support the business case. Linking approach and action to the specific needs of the business was also key for us in terms of our work with the Consumer team and helping them achieve their goals.

If there is budget, bringing in a expert speaker can also help but should be used as part of a wider approach – a one-off webinar won’t solve anything.

When Inclusive Leadership becomes embedded in ‘everyday’ leadership behaviour, then we have succeeded – until then we need to focus on it and highlight it.

“For practitioners and those working on this, I would say, small steps are important – don’t be put off – you are making a difference. This was a daily reminder to keep me on track and not be put off by slow progress.  There were days when it felt like we were going backwards, but then suddenly it would all move forward again. There are highs and lows and just when you think you should give up, someone will do or say something in a meeting that makes you realize the Inclusive Leadership message is getting through!” Denise Cole [EMEA Diversity and Inclusion Manager]