PROFILE: Stephanie Batot, Communications Lead, Group Diversity & Inclusion
Tell us about your current role?
I lead global communications on diversity and inclusion (D&I) for a large international bank. I work across global talent teams, human resource communications, corporate affairs, a D&I Centre of Excellence and a network of voluntary D&I Champions in nearly 70 markets.
What were your first 100-days like? Any advice or particular observations?
Exciting and crucial – real foundation days, especially as the role was newly created.
First, as with any role, it is really important to start with a very open mind, and not to be afraid to question. The key is to gather insights, data and perspectives (which can be challenging with diversity and inclusion where everyone seems to have an opinion!) to back up your strategy.
Second, it is crucial to get immediately into a highly collaborative mode. Whilst it can be tempting to focus on demonstrating your own quality, the switch ‘we’re here to accomplish great work together’ has to be immediately on. This has really helped me especially as I joined during an internal re-organisation and a period of transformation. Working in isolation would have been a poor option. Instead we quickly casted a wide net for our D&I communications which helped us achieve more, together indeed.
What is your current portfolio like?
90% is all around making diversity and inclusion relevant to employees of the Bank. It is about rallying employees at all levels to be motivated to contribute to building a culture of inclusion.
The incentive? D&I is a competitive advantage: not only it helps our people work at their best as individuals but it also helps our teams to be more innovative and better manage risks.
The remaining 10% of my time is spent on external communications, and I expect the share to increase in 2017 as Diversity is also seen as a key attribute of the Bank’s culture.
Is your team structure much different from your previous role?
My team structure then and now is radically different. As communications agency lead, I would have some many direct reports, working with me on local or regional assignments. Today, without any direct report, I work with the support of a large group of corporate affairs professionals on the one hand and diversity and inclusion volunteering champions on the other. Ensuring that we push our agenda forward collaborating in such a wide net can be a challenge. But one I enjoy.
Do you have any specific challenges that as a Communications professional are relevant to your industry sector?
Yes, the financial industry is characterised by very low senior female representation and all large financial institutions should be putting measures in place to address the issue. As improving on gender balance does not happen overnight and there are many influencing factors, the communication challenge is clear: it is just really hard to quickly move the dial and it takes everyone in the organisation, at all levels, to do it.
How influential do you perceive your role in your organisation as a Communications professional? Do you think that’s reflective of how Communications is currently viewed in Asia?
Where I work, it is influential: Not only has my organisation dedicated resources to it (I am a living proof!), but diversity and inclusion sees passion and commitment right from the top.
As to how communications is viewed in Asia, there are huge differences between markets so it is hard to see it as one size fits all. In any case, in general, there is a power shift for many reasons. First, the number of international firms with headquarters in Asia is on the rise. Second, some of the largest communications consultancies such as Dentsu, Blue Focus, are Asian born and grown. Third, many Asian markets are among those displaying the fastest social media adoption rates – especially in East Asia and South Asia.
Communications Lead, Group Diversity & Inclusion
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