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Danske Bank undertakes comprehensive survey to strengthen inclusion

After #metoo, many companies are conducting employee surveys of harassment and discrimination, but few have undertaken as comprehensive a survey as Danske Bank has just done. The results will be used as a springboard to becoming an even better workplace.

As part of our efforts to create an inclusive working environment characterised by high employee satisfaction, the bank undertook an extensive survey in collaboration with Ennova – a market leader in employee surveys – of the Group’s 22,000 employees across all markets in spring 2022.

“Instead of having an overall sense of whether harassment and discrimination occur at Danske Bank, we were keen to undertake a detailed and focused survey of the area. This is the first of its kind in the bank and I expect very few – if any – such comprehensive surveys exist in Denmark,” says Karsten Breum, Chief People Officer at Danske Bank.

Around 13,000 of the Group’s 22,000 employees responded to the survey – which included questions on whether they had experienced discrimination, harassment or bullying in the past 12 months.

Among respondents, 2.7% said they had experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment, while 0.7% had experienced sexual harassment.

The results also showed that just 30% of incidents are reported.

This is the first of its kind in the bank and I expect very few – if any – such comprehensive surveys exist in Denmark.

Karsten Breum

Chief People Officer, Danske Bank

One is one too many
While the figures are similar to those of less comprehensive surveys of the financial sector and lower than in other industries, the results nevertheless demand more intensive preventative measures:

“For while the survey shows that employees in our organisation experience relatively fewer incidents than others overall, even one incident is one too many,” says Chief People Officer Karsten Breum.

He highlights two aspects in particular that we need to react to:

“Certain groups are more vulnerable than others, for example – but not only – women. This is particularly apparent when they are in the minority. Moreover, we generally need to improve our employees’ perception of having somewhere to turn to if they experience discrimination or harassment.”

About the survey

  • Conducted in collaboration with Ennova 

  • All 22,000 employees have been invited to participate 

  • 13,000 employees have participated in the survey

  • As many as 70 questions depending on responses during the survey

Preventative initiatives
The bank’s preventative measures include a mandatory course on harassment and discrimination for all employees.

In addition, managers and employees are to receive a new dialogue tool to help them initiate a discussion with their team on what discrimination and harassment include, and where our limits are. Meanwhile, the bank is strengthening its communication on how and where incidents can be reported.

Previous surveys
This was not the first time the bank has asked employees about their experiences of discrimination and harassment. Since 2018, the bank’s semi-annual satisfaction survey has included a question asking employees about bullying and harassment.

In those surveys, less than 1% of employees stated they had experienced discrimination or harassment that was not addressed.

However, the new survey is significantly more detailed.

One is one too many.

Karsten Breum

Employees answered as many as 70 questions, depending on how they responded during the survey, while a multitude of examples of potential harassment and discrimination were provided – from dirty jokes to unpleasant messages to out and out abuse – plus employees had the opportunity to specify when they had these experiences and whether they had seen others be subjected to harassment or discrimination.

The survey also asked employees whether they see themselves as part of a minority.

“We have an unwavering zero tolerance policy towards harassment and discrimination, and our surveys must reflect this. Given that we wish to be inclusive for everyone, we must remember to ask minorities whether they feel included and be cautious about drawing conclusions based solely on the statements of the majority. That is why obtaining a nuanced picture means a lot to us,” says Karsten Breum.