I joined HSBC’s diversity Alumni Team immediately after the start of my first placement. I identified strongly with the ethos of the organisation having spent my university years following human right’s charities and developing an awareness of inequality throughout society. HSBC Graduate Diversity team has always worked closely with Visible Women and their Umbrella Organisation, Elevation Network. We aim to address gender, ethnic and disability representation discrepancies in the HSBC Graduate job market, ensuring that HSBC is a truly diverse Organisation.
We seem to have a dangerous stereotype of the contemporary feminist; they will be bearded, in hemp and named after seasons or weather conditions. Thus, professionals are immediately discouraged from identifying positively as ‘feminist’ or pro-women’s rights. Statistically, within any area of commerce or business, women are underrepresented, having few inspirational precursors or authority figures to emulate. The relationship between HSBC Graduate Diversity team and Visible Women is therefore extremely important, fostering a tolerant and equal work environment, in which everyone is encouraged to realise their full potential, irrespective of gender.
The partnership between HSBC and Visible Women developed a more specific emphasis in 2010, when we established a mutual mentoring scheme that strengthens the relationship between both stakeholders, but also works towards a shared vision of supporting young women to achieve their full potential in the working world. The partnership of female undergraduate mentees with existing HSBC graduate mentors, enables the students to develop the necessary professional skills and confidence to take them forward into their careers. The programme also demonstrates that HSBC’s culture is one of true Diversity, Equal Opportunity and that the Financial Services Industry is very much open to women. In my experience, the industry does not discriminate based on gender, and has always been welcoming and encouraging. It is vital that women do not feel disheartened before they even embark on a career, due to a lack of confidence or believing thriving misconceptions.
The VW Programme
Following our three-stage application process, fourteen female undergraduate mentees were selected and subsequently paired with current HSBC graduates, to mentor them over the course of the three-month programme. The process culminated in an ‘Experience Day’, which was a valuable opportunity to showcase the range of opportunities within HSBC; the International scope, the Diversity; from the prestigious Group Head Office. The Experience Day event took place on April first, and comprised of a final free-format 1:1 session with mentors, a skills session on interview techniques, speeches delivered by senior female management, a Networking Lunch with the HSBC Graduate Population and senior Management, an Interactive Business Game and lastly a programme feedback session.
The Experience Day was an unprecedented success, viewed by the majority of mentees as the highlight of the programme. The skills session, delivered by Jess Ball, Graduate Recruitment, provided mentees with a robust framework for the upcoming Assessment Centres, as well as for interviews at external Organisations. The internal speakers, from both European Marketing and Global Payments and Cash Management, received much praise from the mentee population. They engaged and inspired the students to continue to develop their careers to their full potential over the coming years, whilst exhibiting their passion for Women in Business. Without having to include a reading of The Female Eunuch, or even better, resort to an all-women’s commune that shies all contact with men and capitalism, we demonstrated the ways in which – and I hate to say it – ‘sisterhood’ is thriving in industry.
As a result of the VW-HSBC mentoring programme, five of the mentees have successfully gone onto the HSBC internship, a significant stepping stone towards joining one of the Graduate programmes. Two of these mentees, Sarah and Isabelle, will be taking us through their journey at HSBC on the Graduate Blog in subsequent articles; from the application process, mentoring programme, internship through to their future aspirations within the Organisation.
Felicity is a member of the Executive Management Programme, she is a member of the HSBC Alumni Diversity Team and has been recently chosen as the new Chair of HSBC Alumni.
Elevation Networks is a youth empoyment charity who are a partner in the Visible Women Campaign their website can be found at www.elevationnetworks.org