Conventional wisdom tends to see workplace disability inclusion as a corporate social responsibility measure, but veteran diversity and inclusion practitioners appreciate the potent power of inclusivity – a dynamic corporate culture embedded with D&I values not only encourages new thinking but also inspires creative ideas.

“From my experience, I can say that inclusivity does produce real impact. Or if I put it this way, a diverse workplace helps stimulate new ideas. As such, we should never ever think of diversity and inclusion as a measure that only benefits a certain group of people, it also opens up opportunities for us as well,” Hugo Leung, BNP Paribas Hong Kong’s CEO, says.

BNP Paribas has a solid track record in promoting workplace diversity. For nearly 15 years, the bank has constantly endeavoured to promote a culture where everyone belongs. And in terms of disability inclusion, the bank signed the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Global Business and Disability Network Charter in 2016, in order to ensure its workplace is more disability-friendly across the 72 markets where it operates.

Leung adds that as a financial institution, workplace diversity is very much an important business element vis-à-vis environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria.

“These days, there are regulatory, investor’s relationship and self-interest angles when it comes to promoting an inclusive work environment. The writing is on the wall – diversity and inclusion is going to be a major operational consideration. For example, a diverse board is conducive to good governance, and having outsiders serving on the board can strengthen supervision and promote a better decision-making process,” Leung adds.

One thing that sets BNP Paribas apart from many companies is that diversity and inclusion practices and values are embedded in all aspects of the bank’s operation. “BNP Paribas is one of the few banks that include people with disabilities in a front office setting. This really shows how BNP Paribas embrace disability inclusion – people with disabilities are not restricted to human resources or other supporting roles. I am elated that some of our members actually work in the frontline,” Walter Tsui, CareER’s founder, says.

Group photo of Walter and BNP Paribas team

“With the successful experience of placing a full-time employee at the front office of BNP Paribas before, we have also placed one intern under the CareER Jockey Club Thriving Grass Career Development Program this summer.” Tsui.

Another thing that heartens Tsui is that despite the bank’s robust approach to diversity and inclusion, it partners with CareER to drive disability inclusion. For example, CareER organizes workshops for the bank’s employees and places one intern under the CareER Jockey Club Thriving Grass Career Development Program this summer.

Aside from having positive impacts on the bank, disability inclusion is also an eye-opening experience for staff members. Essentially, prejudice and stereotypes melt away in the workplace when people realize that people with disabilities are equally capable and hardworking. “The level of motivation among our disabled staff is really inspiring. Their perseverance and vigour really illuminate many things – the positive influence on teamwork is truly amazing, and I couldn’t have emphasised enough about the inspiration stemming from disability inclusion,” Leung notes.

Diversity and inclusion are more than buzzwords; they are values and ideas that will create new mindsets and enhance business outcomes. Leung emphasises that robust diversity and inclusion practices require consistent and regular messaging in the workplace. Through continuous training and real-life experience sharing, employees will be conditioned to believe in the power of diversity and inclusion.

According to Leung, diversity and inclusion is a never-ending job. “We have to keep repeating the mantra, and there will always be room to do more. Also, there should be an annual review to make sure the relevant measures are up to the task.” In the end, through vigorous application, diversity and inclusion will open up new ideas and create exciting opportunities for employers and employees.

CareER provides career development and campus supports for higher educated persons with disabilities and SEN, meanwhile, promotes equal opportunities and disabilities inclusion at the workplace.
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The CareER Jockey Club Thriving Grass Career Development Program is tailored for higher educated persons with disabilities and Special Educational Needs (SEN). During the program, participants will be given training opportunities to build self-confidence, improve personal competence, as well as develop leadership and communication skills. For more information, please visit: https://career.org.hk/key-program/ 

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