Corporate and Investment
Paul Lotter
4 Oct 2023

Fostering an Authentic Workplace Culture

In this article Paul Lotter, Head: People and Culture, CIB discusses the journey Standard Bank CIB has been on to foster an environment where people can show up as themselves: be fully engaged, feel like they belong and bring their authentic selves to work. We believe in the power of this human-centred approach and the positive impact on this on our long-term success and sustainability. To be human first, you have to be human, first.

Standard Bank CIB has been on a journey to foster an environment where people can show up as themselves: be fully engaged, feel like they belong and bring their authentic selves to work.

We believe in the power of this human-centred approach and the positive impact of this on our long-term success and sustainability. We call this being ‘Human First’.

Listening to our people

Our ’Human First’ philosophy is at the heart of the decisions we make and the way we do things within CIB, and our journey continues to evolve. One of the promises we make is to find new ways to support our people with what they need to thrive and to make their dreams possible. This involves truly listening to our people to understand what inspires them, and what they aspire to, both personally and professionally.

Our human-centred approach stood us in good stead during the COVID-19 pandemic and helped us transition to working-from-home while still prioritising our people’s wellbeing during this time. One of the major outcomes of this work in the post-pandemic hybrid era has been that our people feel more comfortable being vulnerable – more human. Our teams are better able to connect with each other and show greater care, empathy and respect for one another due to focused initiatives that help our people better understand themselves and their personal values. This is as important for us as it is for our engagements with our clients.

Safe spaces

A key focus for us on this journey has been to deliberately create opportunities and environments where it’s safe for our people to speak up and share their views. We continuously offer our leaders access to world-class leadership and coaching programmes that equip them to listen with curiosity, invite feedback and facilitate emotive conversations. We’ve seen a positive shift within CIB and our people feel more comfortable to open up outside structured forums. This is key for the wellbeing of our people, our teams and our organisation.

Igniting head, heart and soul

We speak of ‘igniting head, heart and soul’ as part of our ‘Human First’ philosophy. The ‘head’ element speaks to energising our people through what can be achieved when they’re part of our team – the difference they can make in our communities and our continent. We support our people in unleashing their full potential, and surround them with equally passionate people to collaborate with to solve difficult challenges that we face.

‘Heart’ is a reminder of our shared humanity. As a father, husband and brother myself, I know the ups and downs that life can throw our way. We offer our people tools to support them at all stages of life. For example, we offer life coaching to all our people, no matter their role, to help them realise the things they personally need to thrive in life. ‘Thrive’ is an important word: we often talk about high-performing teams in challenging environments, and we’re committed to building ways to help our people sustain their productivity, energy, and commitment so that they don’t burn out.

The ’soul’ aspect is that feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves. In line with our purpose of driving Africa’s growth, we want our people to feel and know that they’re not just doing a job when they come to work. Our organisation and our work enable amazing transformations in our communities, countries and the entire continent. That’s great for the soul, at work and at home.

The journey continues

There’s no final destination on our ‘Human First’ journey – we are committed to continuously progressing as we learn and grow. We know that we’re not yet where we want to be and will continue working to honour our promise to our people.

We are also excited to see the external expression of our ‘Human First’ philosophy, with our people empathetically engaging with our clients as their best, authentic selves; fully committed to making a difference to every client they serve.

To learn more about our employees’ experience of our ‘Human First’ philosophy, please click here


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