Guest blog: Building a diverse and inclusive culture at Principality Building Society

Lorna Kerr, Chief People Officer at Principality Building Society talks about how the Society is committed to addressing under-representation, whilst ensuring there is an environment where all colleagues feel included.

Lorna Kerr, Chief People Officer at Principality Building Society talk about how the Society is committed to addressing under-representation, whilst ensuring there is an environment where all colleagues feel included.

Here at Principality Building Society, we are aware that we are at the beginning of our journey, and reflecting this, we have taken the time to invite different external perspectives to help understand where we are.  This diagnostic, along with the input of the Board and Executive Committee, has shaped our approach to building an inclusive and diverse community of colleagues, at the heart of a fairer society.

Building an Inclusive Culture

Our range of colleague networks (Environment Champions; Mental Health Advocates; Carers; our Cuppa Club; Pride; and REACH) have grown organically within the business and continue to have a positive impact on the lives of our colleagues.  Our Colleague Forum, with elected representatives from across the business, continues to build on its role of representing the views of colleagues to senior leaders and the Board.  This wide range of opportunities for colleagues to come together has further encouraged celebration of our differences and ensured colleagues voices are heard and included in our organisation. Championing and highlighting these voices will be instrumental in the successful achievement of our inclusion strategy.

We want to ensure our policies are colleague focussed and will be continuing to review them with this in mind.  We developed a Gender Identity Policy, and a process that allows colleagues to share their pronouns on their IT platforms, both with the support of our colleague networks.  Both of these developments help colleagues to be their authentic selves at work and to know that they have the support of the business to do this.

We know that developing and building on diversity and inclusion needs to be done not only in our business but across the Financial Services sector and so we are developing our external networks across the UK to share best practise with others. Part of this included our contribution to the Building Society Association’s response to the FCA/PRA/BoE’s Discussion Paper about the approach to diversity and inclusion in the Financial Services sector. 

Building Diverse Teams

Addressing under-representation is the right thing to do and helps to improve the quality of decision making and business success. Our regulators agree with this and support the steps we are already taking to drive this forward.

We have worked extensively on our recruitment process, introducing; gender de-coding in adverts, gender balanced interview panels, and ensuring that protected characteristics are championed throughout.  

We are continuing to ensure that our approach to career progression also supports our ambitions to address under-representation. With this in mind we are also starting to track demographics with regards to secondments and talent programmes, and as the data becomes more complete, we will be able to better track progress beyond gender. We continue to be a signatory to HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter and have set targets for our gender balance in our senior management and Board populations. Whilst we missed our target in 2021, we have seen significant movement forward since reporting with our current figure at 32% (Target 33%) meaning we are on track to achieve this in 2022.  

Whilst challenging, the pandemic and our hybrid working model has presented us with opportunities to widen our recruitment pool and we anticipate that this will support our targets for addressing under-representation within the business.  We know that this brings its own challenges and ensuring everyone is included in the culture of the business, no matter where they are based, will be a key aspect of the Inclusion Strategy.

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