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International Womens Day Inspire Inclusion

8 March 2024

In a world where diversity is celebrated and differences are embraced, Inspire Inclusion serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of creating spaces where all voices are heard and valued. By hearing from our colleagues, we hope to gain a deeper understanding of how we can continue to cultivate an environment where every individual feels respected, supported, and empowered to thrive.

We reached out to colleagues across the organisation and invited them to share their thoughts on the theme Inspire Inclusion. From Graduates to Senior Leaders, we believe that everyone's perspective is valuable in fostering a culture of inclusivity.

I have long believed that if we value women’s inclusion and understand the barriers to it, we can forge a better world for all of us. But for me, Inspire Inclusion goes further than that. It is about helping create a workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability or socioeconomic status, feels that they can contribute. The makeup of our workforce should look like the Ireland we live in day to day. We should reflect the communities we serve. But not just in numbers or percentages. Each one of us, in the way we show up at work, needs to be on alert for our conscious and unconscious biases and check ourselves against them. By doing so we can help create a workplace where each one of us has equality of opportunity and where we feel a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment. – Julie O’Neill, Chairperson of the Board

It is only in recent years that I have begun to appreciate the difference between “Diversity” and “Inclusion”. There is no point in facilitating diversity if we do not enable, encourage and intentionally drive inclusion. Inclusion for me means breaking down traditional barriers and stereotypes to ensure that people of all backgrounds have a voice, are heard and are invited into the conversation, not just the usual ones. I am a firm believer that a range of perspectives and voices in a conversation result in better outcomes – we become better than the sum of our individual parts. We need to constantly challenge ourselves as to whether we are actively seeking a sufficient variety and diversity of perspectives and voices in our conversations – whether that is in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic, demographical, or neurodiverse backgrounds – and avoid the risk of losing the opportunity for key insights or trending towards a biased outcome.Claire Heeley, Head of Group Internal Audit

Creating a work environment where all individuals feel valued, respected, and supported, regardless of background, identity, religion, ethnicity, gender. Allow everyone a sense of belonging, being able to be their true self.Nicola O’Brien, Chief Financial Officer

There are so many fantastic things that Inspire Inclusion can mean to people. For me, the biggest challenge in my career has been to manage my career while being a mum to three boys. There were some very challenging times, as there are for everyone when you are trying to juggle crèches, childminding, schooling, sickness and everything in between. I really feel that remote working options have been fantastic for females in the work place and I have seen many colleagues, friends and acquaintances take up positions that wouldn’t have been available to them but for the flexibility that working from home brought them. The opportunities for females to enter and re-enter the workplace, and maintain and grow their careerswhile managing other areas of their lives is what inspires inclusion for me. - Margaret Ferns, Senior Solicitor

Inspire Inclusion means recognising and celebrating the unique qualities and perspectives that everyone brings to the table (or in this case, bank!), and creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed and valued. It's about actively promoting diversity, equity, equality, and empathy in all aspects of life, from work to community interactions. It's a commitment to open communication through listening, learning, and supporting one another so that everyone has the opportunity to thrive and become the best versions of themselves. - Mary Foran, Procurement & Sourcing Manager

‘Inspire Inclusion’ to me means, motivating and fostering a sense of belonging, diversity and acceptance in individuals or communities. It involves creating an environment where everyone is valued and included, regardless of differences in backgrounds, perspectives or characteristics. It’s about allowing people to be their authentic selves, then celebrating, valuing and respecting them. To inspire inclusion is to actively embody diversity and inclusion, engaging in ongoing practices of listening, discussing, and building trust. It’s an attitude that shapes the environment and culture towards inclusion, providing a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment. - Nicole Browne, Continuous Improvement Specialist

To me Inspire Inclusion means recognising the importance of intersectionality, and celebrating women from all cultures, and life experiences. It’s ensuring that there is a space for all women to be empowered and no one gets left behind.Chloe Mazhandu, Group Technology Graduate

For me, it means embracing diversity in all its forms, listening actively, empathising with others, and valuing everyone’s different perspectives. - Mardie Hughes, Head of Financial Crime Compliance & MLRO

Inspire Inclusion to me means that everyone is treated equally. To do this, you need to be aware of your unconscious bias, be proactive in making change, challenge each other with decisions we make and be consistent. When you feel included, you feel valued and respected. You are more likely to be authentic and contribute. Nicole Doyle, HR Operations Hub Lead

I think it’s about creating a safe space for women to feel valued and respected, it’s about breaking down barriers and challenging the stereotypes of women by allowing women to embrace their true selves and first foremost we need to do this by leading by example in everything we do.

If I reflect on myself I can honestly say I was a stereotype, I became a young mother at time when I should have been going to college and building my education, before I became a young mother people told me I had so much potential, but after I became a mother some people saw me differently. I saw I was at times perceived differently, I became another statistic in their eyes but I decided I didn’t want to be another statistic, I wanted to show the world that you can have children young, you can also be a wonderful loving mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, you go back to education even if it means studying at night when your children are in bed, you can also build a career for yourself - one you can be proud of! To do that I knew I just had to take another path in life, you can have it all, it’s just about deciding what your “all” is and forge that path to get there.

However I would not be where I am now if it hadn’t of been for the strong women in my life who believed in me, supported me, mentored me and spoke my name when I wasn’t in the room. I am truly blessed and lucky to have had some really inspirational women in both personal and work life who were honest with me, supportive of me, truthful with me, allowed themselves to be vulnerable with me and allowing me to have compassion with myself and others. These women taught me to be brave, they showed me a world where women could support women and still meet their own goals, and their compassion and kindness has allowed me to be the woman I am today, the woman I guide my daughter to be and the man I teach my sons to be; one who values and respects women.It’s so important we recognise the men that support women in both their personal and work life as this allows a path for inclusion and equality across all.

I hope this inspires you to be inclusive and inspire inclusiveness because if someone in my past didn’t show inclusiveness towards me I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share my story with you today. – Maria Dunne, Senior Manager Digital and Direct

As a Caribbean woman of East Indian decent, inspire inclusion means honouring the rich tapestry of identities and experiences that shape who I am. It is about embracing and celebrating my cultural heritage while still advocating for my voice and perspective to be heard and respected in all spaces. Inspire inclusion means breaking down barriers and stereotypes, fostering environments where women can fully participate and thrive, and empowering other Caribbean women to do the same. Inspire inclusion also means recognising the unique contributions that women like me make to society and working towards a society where women from every walk of life are afforded the tools and opportunities to succeed and are valued for who they are. Shobhanna Ramsundar, Assistant Company Secretary

Read more on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at PTSB.

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