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Banking on disability-inclusive hiring to discover new talent

An early adopter of diversity in hiring, Deutsche Bank was recognised with SG Enable’s Enabling Mark (Silver) for its commitment to disability-inclusive best practices.

Banking on disability-inclusive hiring to discover new talent

Taken before COVID-19, (from left) Mr Ong Hua Han, Mr Bernd Starke and Ms Amanda Chan (who won the Exemplary Employee Award at the Enabling Mark Awards 2021 organised by SG Enable) at the 2019 Purple Parade, which promotes awareness of and celebrates persons with disabilities in Singapore. Photos: Deutsche Bank, Mediacorp

When it comes to hiring persons with disabilities in Singapore, Deutsche Bank is a pioneer in the field, having started actively doing so in 1997.

“This speaks volumes of its commitment to disability-inclusive hiring,” pointed out Mr Tan Eng Tat, director of Employment & Employability at SG Enable, an agency dedicated to enabling persons with disabilities. “Over the years, Deutsche Bank’s commitment to disability-inclusive employment has strengthened and it has shown best practices in the six assessment areas of the Enabling Mark accreditation framework.”

Deutsche Bank was given an Enabling Mark (Silver) in recognition of its excellent practices and outcomes in disability-inclusive hiring. The six assessment areas of the Enabling Mark are:

  • Leadership, culture and climate
  • Recruitment practices
  • Workplace accessibility and accommodations
  • Employment practices
  • Community engagement and promotion
  • Extent of inclusive hiring

GAINING TALENT THROUGH DISABILITY INCLUSION

Mr Bernd Starke believes that inclusive hiring isn't just good from a business perspective, it also helps strengthen an organisation’s culture.

According to Mr Tan, Deutsche Bank stood out for its disability inclusion committee, named dbEnable, which plans disability-inclusive events, mentoring programmes and engagement sessions with external organisations. Among dbEnable’s initiatives is its Work Placement Programme, which works with SG Enable to offer tertiary student interns with disabilities an opportunity to learn about bank operations.

“Over the years, dbEnable has enhanced the programme, working closely with SG Enable and university career offices to identify suitable interns,” said Mr Tan. “The bank has offered some of its interns full-time positions, and these former interns also sit on the dbEnable committee.”

In addition, Deutsche Bank is a founding member of the Singapore Business Network on DisAbility (SBNoD), a community of businesses that shares best practices on disability inclusion initiatives. Today, the SBNoD network comprises more than 25 like-minded large corporate organisations and financial institutions.

“While more than one billion people in the world have disabilities, it is often overlooked that within that number are countless talented and gifted individuals who are more than able and willing to support, outperform and even lead their peers,” said Mr Bernd Starke, Deutsche Bank’s head of DACH Corporate Coverage APAC and dbEnable Singapore, as well as the co-chair of the SBNoD.

He highlighted the fact that young professionals also prefer employers who reflect their values: “Diversity and inclusion top the list of values. For a successful organisation to attract top talent, it is imperative to have a hiring culture that embraces persons with disabilities.”

With this in mind, dbEnable was set up in 2014 to pursue two main objectives: To build awareness of persons with disabilities as a source of talent, and to facilitate their employment at Deutsche Bank. It also functions as a voice and advocate for staff with disabilities, creating an inclusive workplace for talent to flourish.

Said Mr Starke: “Our collaboration with SG Enable helps us to identify talent that the bank can recruit based on our needs and the person’s skills. dbEnable helps to make progress in opening up opportunities, guiding career paths and creating a supportive hiring culture.”

Mr Ong Hua Han, a corporate relationship manager and member of dbEnable, has brittle bone disease and uses a wheelchair. He said: “Deutsche Bank’s office design is fully equipped with wide gantries as well as wheelchair-accessible washrooms and elevators. This lets me work independently with minimal or no assistance required from my colleagues, enabling me to focus on my work without distractions.”

Being a part of dbEnable has also given Mr Ong leadership opportunities. “Since 2018, I have co-led the annual dbEnable Work Placement Programme, where I help to shape the strategy of the programme and set the direction to construct a sustainable, junior hiring pipeline for Deutsche Bank Singapore.”

ENRICHING ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE

Ms Jodie Ng started as an intern under Deutsche Bank's Work Placement Programme and is now a regional client service manager at the bank.

Since the Work Placement Programme’s inception in 2014, Deutsche Bank has worked with 29 interns. Some of these have gone on to careers at Deutsche Bank. The dbEnable committee has also organised events such as Christmas bazaars to raise funds for and awareness of persons with disabilities. Furthermore, dbEnable across the bank’s office in Asia Pacific has empowered Deutsche Bank’s employees with disabilities in driving change and becoming a key part of the organisation’s culture.

Having a structured disability inclusion committee comprising employees with disabilities who are agents of change has anchored Deutsche Bank as a leading disability-inclusive employer that is empowering, innovative and collaborative.     

Ms Jodie Ng, a regional client service manager who is partially hard of hearing, described dbEnable’s work as having three key prongs of action: “Raising awareness among employees, gaining support and buy-in from our senior stakeholders, and engaging people with disabilities. Together with my committee members, we have worked towards driving intentional and tangible change in furthering diversity and inclusion for people with disabilities in Deutsche Bank.”

Mentor figures such as Mr Alan Pek, a Unix operation specialist, have also been valuable in offering support and guidance. Mr Pek, who has cerebral palsy, was headhunted by Deutsche Bank 24 years ago and has been helping with dbEnable from the start, building a legacy of mentorship that he is passing down to the next generation. 

Mr Alan Pek, a Unix operation specialist, was headhunted by Deutsche Bank 24 years ago and has been helping with dbEnable since its inception. 

“I have always been very engaged with the dbEnable interns,” he said. “It is very meaningful for me to befriend the interns and help them integrate into Deutsche Bank’s culture, as they always know there is someone they can go to if they need help or a listening ear. In turn, they will also continue this caring for other interns who will join in years to come.”

For Mr Starke, inclusive hiring is not just a business imperative, it is key to strengthening an organisation’s culture. “It is culturally enriching to have a diversified workforce that embraces persons with disabilities. Employing persons with disabilities changes the company inside out – making it a better place to work and collaborate in, where everyone is more respectful to one another, and more empathetic. It brings numerous benefits, including productivity and subsequently, more business with customers.”

He added: “Getting SG Enable’s Enabling Mark (Silver) is an affirmation that we are moving in the right direction, as we continue building a truly inclusive organisation that provides equal opportunities to everyone.”

Apply for the Enabling Mark to have your organisation’s efforts in building a disability-inclusive workplace recognised.

Find out how other employees have benefitted from Deutsche Bank's inclusive hiring practices.

Source: CNA

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