Geraldine Casey, MD Retail Banking at AIB

1st May 2024

This week Geraldine Casey, Managing Director Retail Banking at AIB and WMB Diversity Ambassador talks about building a culture of universal inclusion.  AIB is ‘one of the few Irish PLCs that has women leading all its revenue-generating functions’.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your background and role at AIB.

I Joined AIB four years ago, prior to that I had a 20-year career in Retail with Tesco Ireland.  Having joined as a graduate, I was fortunate to have been able to gain experience across the business throughout my career ultimately holding a number of senior executive roles across Retail Operations, Sales, IT, People and Communications and part of the Executive Management Team.

I joined AIB as CPO at the start of 2020, just as Covid struck. Although it didn’t feel like it at the time, I learned so much by joining the bank during that time of crisis. As we were an essential service, I saw the best in colleagues across the bank working so hard to keep branches open, assist our customers in financial uncertainty and keep each other safe.

During my time as CPO, I was keenly focused on embedding a culture of accountability and inclusivity and implementing a progressive HR strategy to adapt to the new world of work.

In October 2023, I was appointed MD of AIB’s Retail Banking division, which serves over three million customers with 240 AIB and EBS branches and a team of c4,000 people, working across mortgages, personal and SME lending, payments deposits and wealth management.

I am privileged to lead a function that is such an important enabler of local economies and communities the length and breadth of this country.

As a WMB Diversity Ambassador, how important are female role models?

I think it is hugely important. I am very proud to work for an organisation that strongly supports gender balance across all levels of the organisation.

AIB has made huge progress with a gender-balanced board and ExCo and is one of the few Irish PLCs that has women leading all its revenue-generating functions.

It doesn’t happen overnight and requires an unrelenting focus from across the organisation to have that strong pipeline of women for senior roles.

What DE&I Initiatives are in place at AIB?

Traditionally financial services companies are not known for their diverse workplaces, particularly at senior levels. When I joined AIB, I was determined to create a culture of universal inclusion where everyone is valued and given the same opportunities to progress.

A key element of this was the creation of a diversity and inclusion strategy focussing on three main themes – gender balance, opportunities for people with disability and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.  We put a strong programme of supports in place such as continuous and engaging education and training, a leading suite of family leave policies, a strong talent management strategy including an award-winning mentoring programme and an apprenticeship programme to further diversify the workforce. I was particularly proud when we achieved the Gold Investors in Diversity award from the Irish Centre for Diversity and at the time we were the largest employer to do so.

How can you attract and retain a healthy pipeline of female talent?

Competition for talent continues to be fierce across all sectors and it is one of the main challenges I hear when I meet our SME customers across the country.

At AIB, we have invested heavily in inclusive recruitment, talent development and providing practical supports for our people with family and caring responsibilities.

We also have an established hybrid working policy in place to provide certainty and flexibility. As an employer, we continually adapt to ensure that all our people feel empowered and supported at all stages of their careers.

‘CEOs overwhelmingly see generative AI as a catalyst for reinvention that will power efficiency, innovation, and transformational change.’ (PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey 2024). Do you agree?

I think we are all in agreement that AI will have a transformative effect on our lives over the coming decades but we don’t yet know its potential and what the full effects for the economy or society will be.

It is an exciting development that will undoubtedly lead to higher levels of productivity; however safeguards need to be put in place to make sure that happens ethically and securely.

Do you invest in ‘you’?

I have always been a firm believer in this and when I joined AIB, one of the first actions I took was to create a team to drive the implementation of meaningful physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing programmes.

During Covid, working in tandem with our staff representatives we implemented a right to disconnect policy. We also reassessed our engagement and feedback tools to ensure that we responded in an agile way to the issues that matter most to our people such as workload pressures, leave policies and healthcare for all employees.

‘Ireland has experienced an alarming 10% decrease in the number of women in Senior Management Roles’ (source: Grant Thornton Women in Business Report 2024). Why do you think this is the case?

While we have certainly come a long way in terms of greater representation of women in senior roles, we can’t let complacency set in.

We all need to continue to be accountable for addressing any barriers to women’s progression and retention and really challenge ourselves to do more to champion the benefits that diversity brings for our people, business, our customers and society as a whole.