UBS tackles gender diversity at senior level with APAC Forward initiative

Author: Justin Harper | Date: 18 May 2016

Global bank says it’s late to the table but wants to get things right at HR Summit Singapore session

UBS is tackling gender diversity at the senior level head-on in Asia Pacific with a programme aimed at getting more women into the boardroom.
The global bank, which employs 60,000 people worldwide, outlined its plans for a better balance at the HR Summit 2016 in Singapore. UBS admitted it had been late to the table in launching such an initiative but ‘’wanted to get it right’’.
Its new initiative is called APAC Forward and has very clear objectives when it comes to female talent in the bank. It will keep close track of how many women are promoted, while setting a voluntary turnover rate of zero for its female executives.
While UBS has a healthy gender split across the organisation with a 53/47 male to female ratio, at the senior level the split is 69/31 in Asia. This is an imbalance it wants to address with the APAC Forward programme. ‘’We want to get that to 50/50. We are in a pretty good space but the idea was that we needed to further accelerate female leaders’’, says Moira Roberts, UBS head of HR in Singapore and regional head of talent and development for Asia Pacific.
UBS has since tweaked the programme to make it more effective. ‘’It was a pretty late entry from a UBS perspective but from a diversity and leadership perspective we decided it was the right time to go into this space,’’ she adds.
The investment bank employs 8,000 people across the region, representing 56 different nationalities and three generations. At the summit, UBS showcased its wide variety of programmes aimed at developing and promoting executive directors, managing directors and senior leadership, which form part of its Integrated Leadership Development Strategy. Many of the programmes feature an element about working in Asia Pacific, and understanding the cultures within this diverse region.
Earlier this year, a report by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit found that the gender gap is felt more strongly in Singapore than many of its neighbouring countries. Furthermore, some women felt that it could be seen as favouritism or even sexism if they gave to much help to female colleagues to help them advance their careers at the expense of male counterparts.