Matt Comyn from Comm BankAs the head of Australia’s largest retail bank, I have the privilege of leading a large and dedicated workforce from across Australia.  Our people come from a whole range of backgrounds, and reflect the amazing diversity of our country.

I recently had the opportunity to meet Jay – a talented young man who is working in one of our fast growing local branches in an outer-suburban area.  A valued member of his team, Jay’s current manager has identified him as an emerging talent.

CommBank nearly lost this future talent a few years ago.  Jay started his career with the bank in a small branch in a regional town.  Starting as a teller, Jay worked hard and showed ability and skill with customers and the community.  One day Jay was given some very poor career advice:  getting ahead will be limited by the fact that he was clearly gay.

Fortunately for CommBank, Jay didn’t follow this advice. He applied for a transfer into a city area, stuck with his goals, and has flourished with his career.  These days he also actively works to support other LBGTI staff members.  Jay’s story however highlighted to me that discrimination and inequality simply has no place in any workplace.

Tackling the hard areas of diversity like religion, ethnicity and LGBTI has traditionally not been something large companies would look at in a dedicated way.  However a Deloitte research report in 2012 with Victorian Equal Opportunities & Human Rights Commission reported that when employees think their company and leaders are committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel included, then there is a 31% uplift in their responsiveness to changing customer needs, a 42% uplift in team collaboration, and a staggering 83% uplift in their ability to innovate.  Being able to be the best you can at work with your colleagues, in a safe and accepting environment we know leads to real business benefits.

At CommBank the inclusion and respect of every member of staff helps to deliver a greater level of customer satisfaction to our customers.  From recruitment, through development and moving through the organisation – all our staff now receive the same message “you CAN be yourself” with CommBank. We have used data to support this too.  Prior to the launch of our LGBTI and Allies network, known as UNITY, we identified a gap between the engagement score of those self-identifying in the LGBTI community to those that did not.  Since the launch of Unity in February 2013 the network has gone from strength to strength – with over 700 people registered on the dedicated, internal, social networking group.  Our people and culture survey scores in May 2013 illustrated that the gap had almost been eliminated, through some very simple quick wins.

I am proud to sponsor the UNITY group which has been met with overwhelming enthusiasm and support by staff at all levels, in such a short space of time. It wasn’t an easy conversation to get started at times, but we wanted to create a safe working environment where employees feel comfortable to be themselves whatever part of the bank they are part of.

See also : Bank on acceptance: tough lessons help Commbank become a leading LGBTI employer

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