03 May 2021 10:06

‘Diversity crucial for our long-term success’

Today marks the start of the European Diversity Month 2021, and SEB is participating with a number of activities. “Inclusion and diversity are crucial for our long-term success, and by participating in this initiative we want to show our commitment and emphasise the importance of diversity,” says Johan Torgeby.

In 2017, SEB began a structured process to advance its positions with respect to inclusion and diversity. A cross-functional working-group launched activities in all countries and geographies to raise awareness and map the current situation. In 2018, a head of inclusion and diversity was appointed, and the following year a group-wide inclusion and diversity policy was adopted. Since March this year, SEB is also a member of Diversity Charter Sweden, a non-profit association to promote workplace diversity.

Variety of perspectives

The policy and the Group’s inclusion and diversity work are based on the conviction that a broad variety of perspectives, knowledge and experiences contributes to greater creativity, promotes innovation, and leads to better decision-making and risk management.

“To me it is pretty simple. A team that caters for many different points of view and have broader set of perspectives and experiences will always outperform a team that lacks a difference of perspectives, experiences and opinion”, says Johan Torgeby.

The diversity policy states that SEB respects and appreciates differences in personality, professional backgrounds and education as well as individual differences with respect to age, gender, geographic origin, sexual orientation and disability.

“SEB shall be a place where everyone is valued and respected regardless of their personal identity. Everyone shall have the same opportunities to achieve their full potential”, says Johan Torgeby.

Reflect society

The policy also lays out a clear ambition that the composition of SEB's workforce should reflect its customer base and the societies where SEB is locally present.

“This is important both for commercial reasons and to take our social responsibility as an employer,” says Mia Hamstedt, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer in HR. “Therefore, we are working actively to increase diversity in all aspects.”

The statistics that SEB may keep about its employees are only data that are related to the employment, e.g. age, gender and the country in which the person is employed.

The bank is not allowed to keep records of employees' ethnicity/nationality, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation or disability.

However, by using anonymised personnel data, SEB in Sweden can, with the help of Statistics Sweden, obtain statistics on the proportion of personnel with a foreign background (this includes persons born abroad and/or whose both parents were born abroad). This can then be set in relation to what it looks like for the population as a whole.

Foreign backgrounds

SCB’s data shows that 25.9 per cent of the Swedish population had a foreign background at year-end 2020. For SEB in Sweden, the number is lower, but growing. Data shows that the number of employees with a foreign background has increased by nearly four percentage points during the last four years, from 16 per cent in 2016 to 19.6 per cent in 2021. The share of managers with a foreign background increased from 10 per cent to 14.3 per cent between  2019 and 2021.

“We see a clearly positive tendency, but there is still a gap compared to society as a whole,” says Mia Hamstedt. “Looking only at persons who were born abroad themselves, the share has increased from 12.1 per cent to 13.5 per cent. Here we also see that it is the category of persons born outside of Europe that accounts for the largest increase.”

Gender distribution

Looking at the gender distribution in the entire SEB Group, we have roughly 56 per cent women and 44 per cent men. Among managers, the ratio is the other way around – 52 per cent men and 48 per cent women. Among first-line managers, women are a majority, but then the share falls to 43 percent among mid-level managers and to 36 per cent among senior managers.

Mia Hamstedt explains further: “Also in this area, we are seeing a positive trend, especially among senior managers, where the share has increased by five percentage points since 2016. But we are not satisfied with this and we are working actively to achieve a more even gender balance at all levels and in all professional categories.”

How is SEB continuing its work with inclusion and diversity?

 “We are working with a broad palette of measures both in recruiting and in other HR processes,” says Mia Hamstedt. “This includes, for example, routines for proactively ensuring that there is a wide selection of applicants when positions are to be filled. We are setting targets for senior management across the entire organisation and follow them closely to ensure progress. Questions about inclusion and diversity have been included in SEB's employee satisfaction survey for a couple of years now, and we have conducted separate surveys on, for example, the occurrence of sexual harassment.

We are also working with trainings and workshops on inclusion and diversity. This involves, among other things, increasing awareness about how our brains often steer our decisions without us being conscious of it.”

Examples of activities during the European Diversity Month

12 May SEB Talks Diversity. Participants include Märta Stenevi, minister for Gender Equality and Housing in Sweden. Link to the seminar

27 May SPOTLIGHT, diversity theme with Paula da Silva. SEB Spotlight is a live event broadcasted via the Instagram account SEB Career.