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Citi Singapore: Making progress on diversity and inclusion

Jorge Osorio, head of human resources, Citi Singapore, shares how the bank's various initiatives helps it foster a culture in which differences are respected and opportunities are available to all.

Many organisations promote diversity to attract talent but few have it ingrained in their DNA like Citi. Our diversity mirrors the diverse client base that we serve and enables us to anticipate their needs, which is why Citi views diversity as a source of strength and a business imperative. To this end, fostering a culture in which differences are respected and opportunities are available to all is a priority.

In Singapore, we have adopted Citi's Global Affinity Model and workgroups have been formed to better understand and serve the needs of our diverse global employee base. These workgroups are led by our top leaders and employees can join groups such as those that cater to "generations", which aim to break down the age barriers between younger and more senior employees. The idea behind is that everyone - young as well as those with more experience - have skills and knowledge that can be shared.

Our strong belief in diversity can be seen at our Singapore office where we have staff from over 57 countries. I am originally from Peru and there are people from as far away as Ethiopia and Uzbekistan working for Citi here. For Citi employees in Singapore, the opportunity to work in another country is not restricted to just Asia. In fact, we have posted people to our New York headquarters and as far away as countries like Russia, enabling them to be exposed to different cultures.

Another example that speaks of our diversity is that one-in-three employees in our operations and technology division – a male-dominated role in most organisations - is female.

Another example that speaks of our diversity is that one-in-three employees in our operations and technology division – a male-dominated role in most organisations - is female. One recent initiative taken by Citi to promote diversity is a training programme to help participants uncover and deal with unconscious bias that hinder the establishment of a truly inclusive work environment. Managers are also encouraged to step out of their comfort zone by mentoring a member of the opposite sex or someone from a different background.

We have also launched a Maternity Matters programme in Singapore to give mothers the support they need to thrive at work while honouring their family commitments. Post-maternity is a challenging period for new parents, and statistics show this is the time that coincides with high female attrition. Often, this is driven by concerns about whether the firm or team can accommodate the new mother with her new challenges, rather than by a real desire to leave. Citi plans to roll out this programme across Asia this year.

In Singapore, Citi’s maternity benefits are among the best in the industry. For instance, Citi allows maternity expense claims to be processed per new-born instead of per delivery, providing additional benefits to parents of multiples. This benefit has also been expanded to cover adoption expenses, supporting employees who adopt.

With the recent changes to our policies, working adoptive mothers are now eligible for 12 weeks of adoption leave; an increase from the four weeks offered previously. Additionally, from 1 Jan 2018, fertility treatment-related expenses are also claimable from Citi's flexible benefits program.

ALSO READ: Women from Citi bring female tech professionals together to create WiT@SG

As International Women's Day is round the corner, I wish to highlight some of Citi's other initiatives to develop female talent.

We have, for instance, the Citi Women's Leadership Development Programme for our highly-valued female leaders holding the rank of vice president and above. Launched in April 2008, this is a franchise leadership skills training curriculum offered through Citi's Office of Global Workforce Diversity and Executive Development in conjunction with the UCLA Anderson School of Management. To date, 31 women from Singapore have participated in the Citi Women's Leadership Development Programme.

We also have EDGE, a development programme for women holding the rank of assistant vice president, which was launched in September 2017. EDGE stretches over six months and is designed to help these AVPs develop skills in areas such as personal branding, networking, work life integration and communicating with impact. In addition, participants also get a chance to speak to senior women at Citi to gain insights on career development.

Maintaining a truly diverse environment is essential to Citi, a global bank with over 200 million customers in more than 160 jurisdictions. We got to where we are today by embracing a variety of views and developing our talent regardless of their backgrounds. For this reason, diversity remains a top priority at Citi and an area where we will continue to develop and strengthen.

READ MORE: Snapshot: Jorge Osorio, head of human resources, Citi Singapore

Photo / Citi Singapore

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