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Nordea wants to be the party where everybody is on the dance floor

There are still far fewer women than men with managerial roles at Nordea in Denmark and senior candidates rarely get jobs at the bank. These are a few of the key issues that Finansforbundet in Nordea (FiN) wants to take up with leaders in a new council.

19. May 2022
6 min
Af Birgitte Aabo
baa@finansforbundet.dk

“Our latest figures show that women are still far from the goal at Nordea Danmark – at least if the goal is that women should have as many leadership positions as men. Something indicates that women at Nordea in Denmark still find it much harder to climb the career ladder than their female colleagues at Nordea in other countries,” says Mona Svan, board member of FiN. She continues:

“There could be several explanations, but the fact is that we’re just not very good at recruiting female leaders in Denmark.”

In her view there are too few female role models in Denmark. And she is happy that two new central positions have for the first time been filled with women over the past year. Sanne Fredenslund as head of Private Banking in Denmark and most recently Helene Bløcher as head of Business Banking Danmark.

“Nordea must become better at nurturing talents. When we ask in our internal well-being surveys whether men and women have equal opportunities, men reply much more frequently than women that this is the case. Many women feel limited at some level and this is something we must examine more closely and do something about.”

“Diversity is about making sure that everybody is invited to the party whereas inclusion is going one step further and making sure that everybody is asked to dance,” says FiN board member Mona Svan.

At Nordea’s Capital Markets Day in February it was announced that one of the new official goals was that the top three leadership levels of Nordea must include at least 40 per cent of the least represented gender.

“It is positive that we now have an official target,” says Mona Svan.

Over the years she has worked hard not least to promote diversity at the bank and now she will have the opportunity to more actively influence progress in this area at Nordea. She has been appointed as a member of the new D&I Council, which consists of top leaders from Nordea in Denmark. The council members will put on their thinking caps to come up with ways to improve diversity and inclusion across the bank.

”You might ask what the difference is between diversity and inclusion. As somebody once told me diversity is about making sure that everybody is invited to the party whereas inclusion is going one step further and making sure that everybody is asked to dance.”

Age is an obstacle

However, quite a few invitations still need to be sent out before Nordea can consider itself able to host such a party.

“When we look at new employees, we very rarely see anyone older than 50. Of course, we don’t know how many apply from this age group, but it is remarkably low. It would be so nice if Nordea could take the lead in what seems to be a general problem in society, ”says Mony Svan, referring to the debate that is currently taking place in several places.

As regards hiring older employees she believes that we need to break old mindsets in recruitment situations:

“Some of the young leaders may find it hard not to think of their mother who perhaps doesn’t have the greatest IT skills when they evaluate an application from somebody in the same age group. Or they think about whether the candidate is going to retire soon. But even when it’s a person at age 60, they have many years of work ahead of them. Life experience should be considered a greater asset that it is today.”

Not dinosaurs

Pierre Christensen, who is also a board member of FiN, calls for a redefinition of the current focus on age. He believes that it is completely irrelevant whether an employee is 25 or 65 years old.

“Let’s stop talking about age and instead talk about people and competencies. It’s like having experience is being equalled with being a dinosaur. Only when a major crisis breaks out and experience is needed to solve the situation, it is suddenly greatly appreciated. But as soon as the situation is normalised, the experienced employees is sidelined again – I’ve seen and heard about this time and time again.

That is why Pierre Christensen is working for more development activities for older employees:

“But as a 50+ employee you must also look inward and ask yourself if you’re interested enough in development? It takes work to maintain your drive to learn and to renew yourself throughout life. The tactic of relying on your skillset to last your entire working life is no longer viable. From a sustainability viewpoint, all age groups have a responsibility to stay relevant to their employer – so we remain renewable assets.”

 

“Let’s stop talking about age and instead talk about people and competencies. It’s like having experience is being equalled with being a dinosaur”, says FiN board member Pierre Christensen.

Pass on your knowledge

He also points to the great value of passing on your knowledge:

“When you teach others something, you learn something yourself in the process. This is an important point and it is also very important for Nordea that knowledge is passed on to the next generation – not everything can be read up on. That is why a culture must be created where this is appreciated in an entirely different way than today.”

There are many other diversity and inclusion issues that need to be discussed, and Mona Svan looks forward to attending the first meeting of the new council:

“The composition of the council with highly placed leaders signals that Nordea really wants to focus on this area.”

 

 

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