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Report Watch: Citi Utilizes Transparency to Build an Inclusive Employer Brand

By Melissa J. Anderson

Last week Citigroup released its 2010 Corporate Citizenship Report. The report is extensive and detailed, which is the result of the bank’s recent focus on financial inclusion and global brand focus. Citi’s CEO Vikram Pandit wrote in his opening letter:

“Banks are an integral part of every economy and every society. Our role is not merely to further people’s material well-being — though that is vitally important. The value of banks runs deeper. Human rights and democracy reach their full potential only where there is economic inclusion for all. That in turn requires financial inclusion — access to basic financial products and services.”

The report includes a level of detail that many companies would be uncomfortable releasing. And this is, again, related to the bank’s stated commitment to financial inclusion. Pandit continued:

“An inclusive society depends on disclosure, one of the conditions of the Global Compact to which we recommit. This, our 11th annual Global Citizenship Report provides the evidence that we are not only fulfilling our commitments but willing to talk about the considerable challenges we face in promoting Responsible Finance.”

Pandit believes that for a company to be responsible it must be transparent regarding its operations and workforce, and the company seeks to demonstrate that commitment with its report.

Commitment to Transparency

The report discusses the bank’s commitment to transparency, as a means to achieve corporate responsibility. But how far do they go, as far as diversity transparency? Citi’s Global Citizenship Report includes a brief section on employee engagement, but links to its diversity annual report – which is extensive.

For example, Citi includes the following chart, which reveals numbers on the gender and ethnic background of the bank’s total workforce, of almost 100,000 employees.

The level of detail here is impressive – most reports don’t include more than percentages regarding gender and ethnic background. But the chart shows the company has a long way to go, in terms of workforce diversity.

Global Diversity Initiatives

According to Ana Duarte McCarthy, Citi’s Chief Diversity officer, the bank is committed to diversity because it will help improve its bottom line. She wrote:

“Diversity is a business imperative for Citi. We recognize the extraordinary opportunity we have around the world to be a leader in fostering Diversity policy and practices and making a difference for our employees, clients, business partners and communities.”

The report continued:

“We must foster an inclusive work environment and leverage this competitive advantage by providing employees with the experiences and skills to develop to their full potential and realize their professional aspirations. In turn, this can result in greater market share and greater returns for Citi’s shareholders.”

It can be difficult to implement diversity strategies in a global company, because each region has different needs and biases. According to the diversity report, Citi has a broad range of initiatives in place, for example an EMEA diversity week and conference, women’s leadership training and groups across its global footprint, and several employee networking groups.

The company has won several awards for its efforts toward building a diverse workforce, and Joe Stroble, a member of Citi’s Pride Network NYC explained that bank’s initiatives help build a global inclusive employer brand. He said, “The employee networks welcome our whole, authentic selves to

enrich the organization. Citi is a cosmopolitan place — global and diverse, as our clients — and our Employee Networks reflect this richness — and I am richer for it.”

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