Diverse teams get better results

Rabia Azdad, Project Manager Cultural and Global Diversity & Inclusion

‘A company that offers everyone equal opportunities, regardless of gender, ethnic background or functional disability. My team focuses on ensuring equal opportunities.’

The importance of equality

‘I believe that everyone has the right to equal opportunities. Through my own experience I have witnessed how inequality can restrict people. Equality is important at Rabobank too – irrespective of gender, age or cultural background. It’s easier said than done of course, and one employee can’t achieve it alone. The company must support and facilitate equal opportunities, which is where my colleagues from the diversity team come in. At Rabobank we focus particularly on gender, cultural diversity and people with a functional disability. Each team member has his or her own focus area. I specialize in cultural diversity and our global diversity and inclusion policy. We also work closely with seven network groups at Rabobank which were set up to promote inclusivity for female staff, older and younger employees, LGBT colleagues, and people from different ethnic backgrounds.’

It starts with awareness

‘It’s important for a company to have a good diversity policy. Research shows that diverse teams take better decisions, are more innovative and achieve better results. The reason is that they look at topics from different perspectives. We need managers in our company to support the diversity policy and that starts with awareness. Without realizing it, managers tend to employ people who are like them in some way. We are trying to change that, and we are using technology to help. Soon we might be able to use artificial intelligence to conduct the initial selection of new employees.’

I really like the fact that people in this company are very enthusiastic about embracing diversity.

Very enthusiastic

‘I work with colleagues from local banks and the central organization at Rabobank Nederland. I identify the diversity ambitions of different departments and together we draw up a roadmap to achieve them. We do the same thing for our Rabobank colleagues around the world. I really like the fact that people in this company are very enthusiastic about embracing diversity. I can also understand that it is sometimes difficult for them to stay focused on this topic in such a fast-moving environment as Rabobank. So it’s a great help that our Managing Board are actively stimulating diversity policy.’

Mentoring and empowerment

‘Rabobank has already achieved a lot on diversity. Over half of our senior management roles are now filled by women. However, there’s room for improvement at lower levels. We still need to work on improving ethnic diversity at senior management level and ensuring promotion opportunities for people from different cultural backgrounds. We are using mentoring and empowerment to achieve these targets, often assisted by external experts such as “Talent naar de Top” and the Agora Network. Gradually, we are beginning to see change, but it will take several years to reach our goal. Our ambition is that managers focus only on finding the talents and skills they are currently missing and employ people regardless of their background.’

Putting diversity on the agenda

‘I really enjoy working for this company. There are huge opportunities for personal and professional growth if you are entrepreneurial and demonstrate courage and ambition. I took advantage of these opportunities myself. I started working for Rabobank about six years ago as an IT project manager and scrum master. But I missed working on topics which have a direct impact on people. I was given the opportunity to take on this role at HR. It’s a fantastic job for me. As a woman from a different ethnic background, I’m able to offer even better insight into the topic and really push the diversity agenda.’