Ensuring Inclusion at All Levels of the Organization

This video from the 2018 Presidents Group Roundtable features Chris Hatton, former Presidents Group member and Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Head of Regulatory Compliance for HSBC Canada. He talks about Training and Awareness – ensuring inclusion at all levels of your organization.

Video Transcript:

(Chris Hatton) I feel incredibly fortunate to be here actually and I’d like to thank Craig who, three years ago, came to see me in our office to tell me about the great work that the President’s Group was doing and the opportunity to get involved and it was perhaps one of the easiest sells I’ve ever been part of.

I also feel incredibly fortunate to be a leader for HSBC. A firm that spans the globe, one that genuinely believes that diversity of thought, perspective and experience is part of its DNA. We’ve worked really hard to have built that and maintain our inclusive and positive performance orientated culture.

I think for a long time in Canada we thought being here – being part of an international organization representing communities and customers across all provinces apart from Prince Edward Island – was enough. But we really do have to work hard to make sure that our reality matches our intentions. 

It’s really important, I think, that we all as leaders take the time to ensure we stress the importance of learning and information and in creating a culture of inclusivity. That learning that we do and we set out for our colleagues is really important, because to me, what is culture? Culture is a set of shared knowledge, it’s a set of skills filtered through a common set of values into the organization.

So, we’ve done a huge amount in terms of setting out learning for our organization and implemented a good number of training courses. We set out to introduce an open-mindedness; an unconscious bias leadership training for all people leaders in the organization, which has created a really strong awareness and platform for inclusivity.

It’s important that executives and senior leaders take personal ownership, stand up and advocate and make sure individuals do recognise the value of it and that is linked to their performance management objectives and scorecards.

We have an employment equity narrative that sets out to the entire organization and our communities what we do, and we deliver accessibility training to all new employees, all new hires in the organization and all team leaders. That familiarizes staff with how they can access the resources that we have within the organization to acquire accommodations whether they’re clients, whether it’s clients that need accommodations to deal with our service, whether it’s colleagues who need accommodations to perform their duties. And we create partnerships with a range of external vendors and organizations that can help us give insight into those specialist needs to get their skills.

I think the second piece is a framework of policies and expectations in the organization. Our policy and employee guide on workplace accommodations is supported by a central budget and in a large organization we have the ability to do that but taking away the PNL considerations of individual team leaders and managers of putting investment into driving accessibility takes away one of the real big barriers for for-profit centres. 

We use interpreting services to support our employee’s day to day needs as well as during all of our town halls, all of our abroad employee communications are supported by interpretive sign language that makes it accessible for people with hearing impairment as well as being subtitled. And again, having that sign capability on all of our webcasts and broadcasts across the organization is imperative in raising the profile of the work that we do in this space.

In 2017, we’ve actually gone a step of investing in some specialized diversity recruiting services so we have people within our HR team who are targeted on reaching out into communities and developing awareness, whether it’s people with disabilities, people from different ethnic minorities to bring them into HSBC and using their specialists resources that are targeted at reaching out to those communities and recruiting people into real jobs, into real situations has moved our program forward very significantly.

So, I sat downstairs actually in the hotel room this morning and I thought, “What’s the secret sauce? What is the thing that makes the difference between the experiences that go well and the outcomes that deliver and those that don’t?” And I kind of brought it down to three things.

First of all, it’s about really good listening. It’s about creating an environment where we can listen to our communities, where we can listen to a broad range of people and understand the different needs and accommodations that people have. And we have a network of employee resources groups who provide executives with that opportunity to listen.

So, bringing people from like-minded communities, people with similar challenges together, to engage in a dialogue where executives can listen and understand some of the challenges that they face.

The second thing is attention to detail and it couples very closely with the listening, but if I give you an example of something that we didn’t get quite right. One of the things that came from our ability employees resources group was from a visually impaired colleague that said, “You know, it would be great on some of our meeting rooms, if as well as the name of the meeting room that could be printed in Braille.”

So, we went off and printed the labels in Braille on all of the meeting room signs that we had in the organization, and I was quite proud that we’d taken that step. Actually, it felt quite good that we’d done that with some of our colleagues. So after we’d done it and completed the program, I went back to the individual and raised it and said, “Have you noticed we’ve done that? Has it made a difference to you?” He said, “I didn’t know you’d done it and no, it hasn’t made a difference.”

Well, that shocked me a little bit. And the question was, “Why? Why hasn’t it worked?” “Well, the thing is Chris, I don’t know where the signs on the wall actually are. So, the fact that there’s Braille on them is of no use to me whatsoever.” So, thinking about that detail and the practical application of how it goes and looping that back into the listening, so you have the right conversation to understand the right problem to really address is super important.

Then the last thing, which is a big one for me and as a somewhat stiff lipped, middle-aged banker, it’s a tough one to talk about actually and it is, of course, the F-word and it’s that word “feelings.” I do think it is important that, as leaders, we have the courage to step into people’s feelings and not just the feelings of people that come into the organization with particularly different ability challenges or particularly different visible minority statuses.

It’s about the feelings of the people in the teams that they are going to join. One of the most successful experiences we had is with a colleague who is hearing impaired. And one of my leaders in my organization did have the courage to step into the feelings with the team that the individual was going to join and ask them: how were they feeling about it? And of course, they were all really excited to have a new colleague; they all recognized it was the right thing to do and felt good that we were welcoming a colleague with some ability challenges into the organization.

But they are also quite terrified on a number of things about how are they going to communicate with that individual. How is it going to work in terms of the operating practices day to day? And, by the leader stepping up and have the courage to talk about those feelings, to address some of those things, to provide support to those individuals for their access to the information, the knowledge, the skills, the mindset that they needed to be successful and welcome that colleague into the organization. It was incredibly powerful.

And what I observed around the office from that conversation was the number of people who, off their own back, went out and learned sign language capabilities so they could communicate with their new colleague. It was an incredibly humbling experience and it did just reveal to me the power of the F-word. Feelings are important in this.

So, thank you very much for listening to me this morning.