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Diversity and inclusion gain a foothold at Danske Bank

Internal processes under a microscope, a dedicated Council setting direction for diversity and inclusion (D&I), local forces taking practical initiative, in-house training, an NGO partnership and a collaboration with a start-up that automatically scans job ads for bias. On International Women’s Day, we’re taking a closer look at Danske Bank’s work on increasing D&I in the group.

Recruitment is one of the key areas of creating greater diversity in an organisation. This is why Danske Bank has partnered with the start-up Develop Diverse  whose software automatically scans the bank’s job adverts for biases that could attract or discourage different groups of applicants, such as a certain gender, age or ethnicity.

Making language more inclusive produces results
“We can see clear improvements in the diversity of our customers' company culture, including Danske Bank”, says Jenifer Clausell-Tormos, CEO of Develop Diverse.
In a pilot project with Danske Bank covering 40 job adverts, the number of qualified female applicants grew by 81% and male applicants by 39% when bias was removed from the job adverts.

“The financial sector remains a relatively male-dominated industry, so the self-awareness that the bank has, and the willingness to do something about it, is really commendable”, adds Jenifer.

Image: Jenifer Clausell-Tormos, CEO Develop Diverse.

“It’s important that we do away with stereotypes, and not just make mobile banking pink to attract more women, for example. It’s about making everyone feel welcome in the company, which can be promoted with inclusive use of language, images, colours, even the fonts you use,” says Jenifer.

“It’s one thing to change number and distribution of applicants. It’s another thing to help companies build an inclusive culture by letting people reflecton their own biases. It’s definitely a motivational factor for me and Develop Diverse,” she adds. 

Develop Diverse is releasing a Danish-language version of its software this week. 

Examples of biased words


Social group discouraged

Biased word

Neutral, inclusive alternative

MenLOVESAppreciates, thrives on
WomenCOMPETENTAble, qualified
Ethnic minoritiesFLAIR FOR* Understanding of, knowledge of
Mature peopleDYNAMICEngaged, takes initiative
YoungRESILIENCEProfessionalism, proficiency

* 'Flair for' discourages ethnic minorities from applying for a job, for example, as it echoes a stereotype of being considered to have limited potential and instead being judged on past performance. 
Diversity Council sets direction and objectives
It’s not just job announcements that are being focused on at Danske Bank. “We are looking at several internal processes through the lens of D&I,” Betina Dam Hansen, D&I Chief Officer explains. 

“Language helps create our reality, and a lot happens unconsciously – we reproduce norms and ways of being together, but fortunately this can be changed,” she says and continues:

“We are working on clear goals. We really want to be an attractive workplace for both men and women, and increase the share of women in management positions. Danske Bank wants to be a role model for the finance sector!”

Therefore, the bank’s Executive Leadership Team has established a Diversity & Inclusion Council with Mark Wraa-Hansen, Head of Personal Customers in Denmark, as the chairperson. The Council sets the overall direction for the bank’s work with D&I, while operational work is carried out by 18 D&I Leads in a wide range of business units across several countries. 

The Council’s starting point is that Danske Bank should “reflect the societies around us.” You will be able to feel included at Danske Bank, and be free to be who you are, which is part of the bank’s D&I mission statement. 

For example, the Council has entered into a partnership with the NGO Stonewall, which helps the bank to work for even more equal rights for LGBTQ+ people, in close cooperation with Danske Bank’s own rainbow network.

Examples on our work within diversity & inclusion

Partnership with Stonewall
Read more

Scanning of job adds

Equal rights for rainbow families
Read more

A dedicated Council setting the focus

Internal processes under the microscope

“When we’re talking about recruitment, it’s standard practice at Danske Bank to have at least one woman among the final three applicants for a job, and at least one woman on the recruitment committee. In addition, we are looking at why women are leaving us, to constantly improve the way we work with inclusion.”

“We have a really good foundation,” explains Betina Dam Hansen. “There is still a long way to go, but we have made a good start on the work, which has a great deal of attention from the Executive Leadership Team. The most important thing here and now is the great commitment we are experiencing every day from our managers and employees, with a common goal and a solid plan. The next step is to train both management and employees in D&I.”

In April, a new engagement survey for employees will be launched, which will directly measure how inclusive Danske Bank is as a workplace.

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