If you find yourself at work and wondering at how much your work life has flipped upside down over the past few years – you’re not alone.
Our work lives are barely recognizable to what they looked like a few years ago, and it’s making us revaluate what’s important to in our jobs.
Is flexibility and work-life balance now top of your mind when weighing up employers? Then you’re in line with 61% of respondents in a 2022 poll run by Gallup. If working for a diverse and inclusive organization, where all employees are valued is more top of mind for you, then you agree with 42% of the workers polled.
The shift towards factors like these is having ripple effects on the workforce’s productivity and employee loyalty, so it’s no surprise that some of the more enlightened companies are now turning their focus to their offerings in these spaces.
We’re also seeing a lot more celebration given to employees that not only embody these goals but can champion them.
Enter Sarah Bateson at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
Sarah is the General Manager, Group Marketing at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. And she has been able to help drive a culture that expresses the kind of people-centered approach she was looking for.
Sarah, now three and a half years at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, says she recognized the company was a perfect fit for her when she saw how the bank responded to COVID.
“I joined Bendigo and Adelaide Bank just before the lockdowns. Their response to COVID was fantastic: they pulled together to drive critical change and put customers first. There was also a great level of support for team members through that period, with a genuine care that I haven’t seen in other companies.
“This is a place where you really feel you can make an impact on our people, customers, and communities. I haven’t worked in a company where I really felt that to the level I do at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. I love that if you’re accountable, you’re supported to drive change and growth, while working for a company with a strong social purpose.
“It’s a win-win.”
“Proud of our pride commitment”
Sarah says being Chair of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Pride Group, the company’s LGBTQI+ Employee Network is something she is very proud of.
She enthuses as she explains this gives her the ability to shape the organization around an authentic commitment to diversity and inclusion in all its facets.
“Our vision is that Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is a Rainbow employer of choice who values and includes all members of the LGBTQI+ community.
“We pride ourselves on being a champion of LGBTQI+ support across regional and rural Australia, and on creating safe and inclusive environments where everyone can thrive.”
It’s a complete alignment of everything she believes in and values in a workplace, she says, and it reflects who she is, not just what she does for a living.
“I am passionate about building inclusive workplaces. If everyone can bring their whole selves to work, we get better outcomes for individuals, teams and the company.”
And it’s personal, she adds, as her own experience has informed her passion for what she does.
“I identify as a gay woman, and I think that senior role models are integral to our diversity and inclusion journey.
“Being an out role model is a great way to show the wider organization that no matter who you are, you ‘Belong at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’.”
“We are making real positive change for our people.”
Even given all the company support and the great efforts of staff and partners at all levels, there’s still more work to do to ensure a truly diverse and inclusive workspace is sustainable at https://work180.com/en-au/for-women/employer/bendigo-and-adelaide-bankk, and elsewhere.
“I love working at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and think it is a place that welcomes diversity, but we know from the stats we have some work to do to do to in some areas,” she admits, adding that “we know from the 2023 Australian Workplace Equality Index Employee Survey that 16% of LGBTQI+ employees within Australia are not out at work, and the number of people out to everyone at work has been decreasing over the past three years.”
Her lack of early career role models highlighted the importance of representation at work.
“I certainly didn’t see many openly gay senior role models as I was coming up through the ranks, which really does have an impact on how confident you might be to bring your authentic self to work.”
And even though she’s seen improvements in inclusion over her working life she recognizes that not everyone has seen the benefits.
“If our committee and allies can help build an even more inclusive workplace at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank then I am really happy to be involved in that.”
Building an inclusive culture for the LGBTQI+ community
The work that Sarah and others are doing at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, however, is showing results.
“We have a higher percentage of people who identify as part of the rainbow community at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank than we did a couple of years ago. The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Pride group is a visible signal to our people that they belong no matter how they identify, and they have a ready-made support group when they need it,” she says.
“We now have more people than ever feeling comfortable to be out and their authentic selves a work which is why we do this.”
Being among the leadership team at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank gives Sarah the opportunity to shine a light for others coming into the banking and finance sector and into the corporate world in general.
She notes that she had the benefit of accessing great mentors and support-from-the-top in her career, and she pays it forward by being one of the mentors in the bank’s Women in Leadership programme.
“A good mentoring relationship is just as much of a learning opportunity for the mentor as it is for the mentee if you get it right. I’ve had some great experiences working with some fantastic women in this program.”
Sarah, and the work the of all members of the LGBTQI+ community, has ensured that the rainbow is shining bright at Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, and makes sure their employees not only come to work, but come to life.