Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

SWIFT: diversity and inclusion both a moral and strategic business imperative

Two people shaking hands covered in different colours of paint

Treasury Today Group has been running its Women in Treasury initiative for the past six years. Over that time discussions around gender equality and female representation have moved from being somewhat contentious and at the fringe to become a major issue for corporates. The discussion has also broadened out to include conversations around diversity and inclusion and representation at all levels. Real progress has been made in many parts of the world on all these fronts, but there is still much to do if we want to see true diversity and inclusion in the corporate space.

At this year’s Sibos event in Sydney it was encouraging to see diversity and inclusion in evidence and at the centre of the conference, with many female panellists and diverse voices, thoughts and opinions being shared across the event’s many platforms. After Sibos we sat down with SWIFT to speak about why this was important, about the progress that has been made and about their plans for the future evolution of the conversation.

Could you outline the reasons for SWIFT’s focus on diversity and inclusion at this year’s Sibos?

Diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do from an equality point of view, it has been shown time and again that businesses with a diverse workforce do better. With banks, fintechs, and major technology companies all hiring, we need to be able to tap into the widest possible talent pool to serve an increasingly global and diverse customer base. This is a question about the future of work and one that Sibos is determined to help address.

It was fantastic to see so many female panellists within the 2018 line-up, was this a deliberate effort and if so why?

We always encourage the community to put forward its best and brightest for our panels – and we aspire to reflect the diversity within the industry. This leads to interesting sessions and great conversations that express diversity of thought. As part of this year’s Sibos, more than a third of those on our panels were women. While there is still more to be done, we are playing our part in an industry that is changing.

The Women of the World theme was interesting; could you share some of the background and details of this?

The Women of the World event was an inclusive networking evening that attracted more than 200 people from across financial services to discuss and celebrate diversity in the industry. In a stimulating environment, participants were invited to share their views on diversity that we captured on an industry ‘change canvas’. Nadine Lagamitte of HSBC also joined the event and shared her reflections on a career journey that has inspired many others.

How would you like to see this approach to D&I evolve as we look towards 2019?

At the Women of the World event in Sydney, the SWIFT Institute – which provides a forum for academics and financial practitioners to collaborate – announced a new research project: Securing the Future of the Financial Industry via Improved Gender Diversity. We will carry out this research in the early part of 2019, and present the results at Sibos in London next September. The research is sure to lead to some interesting findings and calls for action.