The Challenge

The client was a leading global banking group where the Group CFO wanted to build stronger succession planning for the Finance Management Committee, particularly focusing on enhancing the overall bench strength and providing a greater degree of diversity of thought via a pipeline of female talent. This was part of a broader agenda at the Bank to increase diversity, and the Group CFO in particular wanted to make Finance the pinnacle for gender diversity within the organisation.

Our Approach

Critical for this type of project is to establish the key credentials and experience required by the Bank a priori of gender. We then sought to translate these into a brief so as to reassure female candidates that their potential appointment would not be tokenism. As part of this process, we encouraged the Client to think about specific areas within Finance that were of particular interest, be it functional, divisional or geographic. Whilst relatively broadly defined, we combined these criteria with some core skill sets beyond technical abilities: including leadership potential, change management experience and influencing skills, all of which were key for the journey the Bank was on. We consulted the client on the different approaches of targeting women within areas where they already had momentum to build on, or focusing on areas where they felt particularly exposed from a diversity perspective.

Next, we started developing a ‘rolling’ shortlist of relevant and interested candidates, which we continued to update on a quarterly basis with a view to developing a pipeline of talent. To identify such a pool of female candidates, we searched the available marketplace and developed a shortlist of ‘best in class’ individuals drawn from competitor and other relevant organisations globally. We gathered detailed information on their career history, responsibilities, capabilities and future potential, through informal referencing and interviews.

Beyond merely establishing the quality of the candidates’ credentials, we utilised our extensive knowledge of the institution, both strategically and culturally to ascertain their potential fit and likelihood of building a long-term career with the Bank. Drawing on our existing deep relationships within the institution, both at Board level and through the executive ranks, we were able to attract women to the table who had not previously engaged in an external dialogue. Moreover, we found that the longer-term nature of the engagement, both with us and with the client, made them more comfortable compared to a shorter, more transactional interaction would have done.

This enabled us to put forward candidates in two separate ways:

In some cases, we were able to attract talent relatively quickly, because of the flexibility and buy-in from across the organisation, which allowed us to help refine the role description and remit to suit the individual candidate’s experience. We sought to attract individuals into roles where they could have immediate impact. While developing a network across the business, the individual candidates would be engaged in a parallel dialogue around which additional strings they would like to add to their bow. We would also ensure that the candidates felt comfortable that they would be given the needed sponsorship and mentorship by the Group CFO alongside a sense of the timeline for their career progression.

As part of a longer term agenda, we established and maintained a dialogue with individuals we thought suitable for the Bank, but not immediately available, in some cases over a one to three year period; as a consequence we gradually created a pipeline of candidates enabling us, and the Bank, to respond quickly, as and when a relevant position or urgent need arose.

The Outcome

The Group CFO was impressed by the quality of talent attracted through this process. Several hires have been made, including at Finance Management Committee level, and the early hires are already showing their potential, having taken on expanded remits within short time frames.