As part of our Elevate Pledge Inaugural report launch, we delve deeper into some of the successful diversity and inclusion initiatives highlighted in the report. In this piece, learn about AIB’s Universal Inclusion Campaign.
As a financial institution at the heart of the Irish economy, operating within a local and global context, AIB Group recognises that Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) is critical to our business performance and social license to operate. In recent years we have established a strong foundation of values, policies and practices that support our ambition to provide an inclusive environment for our colleagues and reflect the communities we serve. During 2021, we introduced a new I&D strategy to take this work further.
In feedback gathered during the development of the strategy, particularly through a survey by the Irish Centre for Diversity, it became clear that in addition to our achievements on gender balance, there was a need to broaden the understanding of I&D across the bank. In addition, we identified a perception among some colleagues that our Inclusion & Diversity activities were for minority groups, presenting an opportunity to communicate the relevance and importance of I&D for all.
This led to the idea of a ‘universal’ approach, calling for involvement by all staff in embracing difference and creating an inclusive culture. Key objectives were to position I&D as a business enabler, support AIB’s employee value proposition and reach those not previously involved in I&D. We also decided to enhance external I&D activity to drive impact in the communities we serve.
In January 2022 AIB launched a major internal bank-wide campaign – Universal Inclusion – to reach the hearts and minds of all colleagues. The aim was to shift the focus to all employees and engage a wider audience, on the basis that anyone can experience exclusion and everyone has a role in building an inclusive environment.
To this end AIB embarked on a significant communications programme that featured an employee video and strong Board/ExCo support. This was integrated with new training for all employees, and a new inclusive leadership module being taken by every people leader. The heart of the campaign was a call to action for teams to talk about I&D at a local level and submit an action pledge for 2022.
Giles Barrett, Head of Wellbeing, Inclusion and Engagement at AIB said: “We know we still have a lot to do, but the implementation of Universal Inclusion has been a big step forward. By the end of 2022, every colleague and people leader in AIB – that’s over 12,000 staff – will have engaged in new training on I&D. More importantly, over 100 teams have created their own inclusion pledges, which is a huge boost to our ambition of being an I&D leader.”
The Universal Inclusion campaign worked because it turned the typical I&D approach of focusing on diverse groups on its head. Making the campaign about everyone means that diverse groups remain part of the picture but it also ‘opens the door’ to staff from the majority to play their role in building a truly inclusive environment.