Geraldine Casey, AIB’s Chief People Officer
6th April 2021
This week Geraldine Casey, AIB’s Chief People Officer and WMB Diversity Ambassador, talks about the need for patience as we all journey through this pandemic with different challenges.
Please describe your role at AIB.
I am the chief people officer within AIB. My job is to help create an environment where everyone can be at their best, whoever they are, wherever they are from, whatever their valuable skillset is. When people are at their best, we can then deliver exceptional service to our customers, and support our communities within which we operate. My job is to create that win−win−win scenario.
Can you put into context, the size and scope of AIB for our readers?
AIB is often referred to as a pillar bank within Ireland. That means that we are key to society, to help foster and support business and communities. We have a huge community presence both physically; but also through our people, who we encourage and who participate and support community initiatives, from huge engagement with charities, voluntary and sporting organisations.
We are very conscious of our responsibility as an organisation, and not only have huge ambitions for our organisation, but we also have huge ambitions for our communities.
As a WMB Magazine Diversity Ambassador, how important is it to have role models?
A key shared passion I have, is the promotion of women within business. Because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it is better for business. Within AIB, and in previous organisations I have worked with, we had multiple initiatives and programs to create a sustainable pipeline of talented women.
By far the most effective thing one can do to promote women in business, is role modelling − if you can’t see it; you can’t be it.
Why is diversity and inclusion important in your business?
As previously mentioned, I want to create an environment where everyone can be at their best. Where everyone can feel psychologically safe to be themselves − because that helps them be their best and prosper within the organisation. And personally, I will leave no stone unturned to make people, no matter who you are, feel welcome and included.
Once everyone feels included, we then need to reap that pool of diversity. Diversity gives of diversity of thought, which gives us diversity of input into our actions, and gives us better business outcomes.
Organisations that can leverage their diversity will be able to build more sustainable and successful organisations.
Is there a connection with your company’s approach to D&I and its mental health policies?
Our wellbeing and D&I programs are very much intertwined − as we see physiological safety and wellbeing as being a bedrock of staff being able to prosper. Our mental health program is very strong, with awareness programs, staff support and 160 qualified mental health advocates.
Recent data shows that 1 in 4 ISEQ20 companies have no female representation on their Leadership Teams − What’s your opinion on this?
Clearly we have more to do. Within AIB I am extremely proud that we have gender balance on both our Board and Leadership Team. And within AIB, as a pillar bank, we are well positioned to role model for our country, and role modelling that gender balanced Leadership Teams and Boards lead to better and more sustainable businesses.
In order to thrive in a rapidly evolving workplace, the ability to be flexible is important. What other attributes are necessary for companies and their employees to survive and succeed?
I think in our evolving workplaces, old capabilities that we took for granted, need to be refocused on, especially in more dispersed work environments – The ability to collaborate, network and innovate from a team perspective and to be structured, outcome focused and motivated from an individual perspective. By focusing on these attributes and capabilities, we can make these a better organisational skillset then heretofore.
Has the last year been one big challenge or are there some ‘silver linings’?
There are huge silver linings. We are discovering within ourselves, as organisations, and as a society; greater resilience and community purpose then we were possibly aware we had. And whilst that is all within a context of a global pandemic, it is inspiring to see what we can do collectively as a society. I am also conscious to acknowledge those people who are struggling with businesses, life and indeed loss − and
as a society we have a collective responsibility to support everyone as we emerge from this time.
How do you effectively communicate an inclusive voice, across your organisation’s territories and cultures, in a virtual world?
I think one of the successes of COVID has been the rapid learning and use of the power of technology. Technology, used well, has allowed us to create an inclusive single organisational voice. And clearly it is not only technology, but it is also a skillset in its use − and that has been a huge but highly rewarding learning curve during this period.
Can you share one important lesson/observation/mantra that will inspire others?
As this pandemic continues, relationships, be it work or general life, can become strained by lack of physical connections. We all need to place ourselves in others shoes. We are all journeying through this pandemic with different challenges − so let’s be patient with each other − it is probably the single biggest thing we can do to support each other during this time.