On the 6th of November, OxWIB hosted a panel discussion with the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). HSBC’s International Manager Programme was one of the first things which seemed to stand out for students - it allows one the flexibility to travel and work abroad while still comparatively fresh on the job. Luckily, there seems to be no ‘one’ best degree to study to land a job here - the representatives at the panel discussion had studied Law, Drama with Literature and Economics.
The representatives began by attempting to clear up some of the misconceptions rife in the industry - banking is not just male-dominated, homogenous and unsupportive. As far as diversity and inclusion goes, HSBC has 7 global networks, including ones focused on gender, ethnicity, sexuality and working parents. Lots of employee resource groups provide different kinds of support - paternity and maternity leave, adoption leave, flexible working hours and the ability to work from home. In an attempt to improve their gender balance, CEO Mr Flint aims to have 30% of women in senior management by 2020.
Christine, one of our representatives, had worked with HSBC for 11 years. She was a single mother, with three kids, and had been thoroughly supported by HSBC. Among other things, it had allowed her to work flexibly for all of five years when her youngest son was born in 2011. Matt, another representative, pointed out that one of the first things that surprised him when he started at HSBC was the plethora of degrees that his co-workers had studied - ranging from ‘microbiology to history’. Both mentioned HSBC’s diversity events - particularly the Black History Month in 2018 and a recent Diwali event as evidence of the bank’s commitment to improving diversity for their employees.
Potential perks for applicants admitted to HSBC’s graduate scheme include a global graduate induction, where all chosen graduates descend upon London for a week of activities (and depart with friends working in multiple international HSBC offices). Matt, in fact, expanded further on the diverse backgrounds of his coworkers - this time with reference to their previous jobs rather than their degrees. One had worked for MI5, and another had an MBE (they’re not your stereotypical ‘bankers’, he clarified)! Christine found the difference in regulations and laws between different locations the most surprising aspect of the job - one that she said took nearly a year to get accustomed to.
As far as advice for younger female colleagues, Christine suggested that it is important to be ‘authentic and real’. What sells is not just achievements - it is also necessary to be the person that people will want to work with. Soft skills should not, then, just be tossed by the wayside! As a mother, the company allows one a certain amount of flexibility - there is no pressure to take a role that requires inordinate amounts of travelling. ‘Top-notch insurance’ and a flexible child-care scheme are also major incentives for female employees.
HSBC is clearly doing much on the diversity front, and its aim of 30% women in senior management by 2020 as well as a conscious effort to bridge the gender pay gap seem to be definite steps in all the right directions.