Key highlights

  1. With colleagues and clients around the world, taking both cultural and business needs into account is key to operations and sustainable performance at UBS.
  2. It’s important to focus on all angles when looking at representation: diversity, equity and inclusion.
  3. Looking at things from different perspectives helps us make better decisions and be more innovative.

“Having full representation is about making sure the diversity of people in our workforce reflects the diversity we have in the communities in which we live and work,” Cicilia explained to start. “And you need to look at representation from three angles to cover all bases.” 

Those three angles, being diversity, equity and inclusion.  

Whereas having diversity is about having differences in the people sat around a table, inclusion is about making the same people feel they can bring their authentic voices to that table. And while, philosophically, equality is good, it doesn’t necessarily address the different obstacles people have to overcome. For this reason, we believe equity, which focuses on breaking down barriers so that everyone around the table has the same opportunities, is more effective.  

“We make better decisions and are more innovative when we look at things from different perspectives and bring different opinions in,” she continued. “Doing this makes us better at being risk managers, problem solvers and finding the best solutions, in both anticipating and responding to clients’ needs.”

We make better decisions and are more innovative when we look at things from different perspectives and bring different opinions in.

Against the bigger picture

At UBS, we’re sure to have all areas of DE&I on our radar. 

“We take a broad approach to diversity, equity and inclusion, focusing on a range of aspects, including inclusive leadership, age, gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, disability, and veterans. But specific, aspirational goals that we set at the firm are dependent on data being available to monitor progress,” Cicilia added.

Whichever topic we’re focusing on as a firm, we want to make an positive impact with the words we use. 

“When it comes to language, the focus is mostly on inclusion. Using the right language needs to be a conscious effort to learn about peoples’ backgrounds and cultures that may be different from your own,” she said. “Of course, mistakes may happen – but it’s about being open to learning from them, rather than getting defensive. The worst thing that can happen is that we avoid addressing certain topics altogether, because we’re scared of saying the wrong thing.” 

At UBS, we’re conscious of the importance of the words we use, and have taken steps to bring our communications style in line with the world around us. That’s not to say we hit the mark every time, but we acknowledge that the way we frame our words – from internal memos to job postings – matters to our audience and strive to keep our language up to date. 

The worst thing that can happen is that we ignore certain topics because we’re scared of saying the wrong thing.

By the business, for the business

The firm works to address and include different perspectives by setting Group-wide, overarching aspirational goals and having regional representatives oversee the execution of those goals on the local level. But these aren’t just initiatives that come from within the DE&I organization. Although this part of the firm lays the foundations, the results are really scaled by business-led initiatives.  

“It’s crucial that the business also makes sure to address issues and discuss topics to achieve the outcome we aim for,” Cicilia explained. “The approach really relies on targeted actions from the top down and the bottom up, such as employee-led initiatives, and policies implemented by senior management.” 

The overarching, aspirational goals we’ve set include programs to improve representation for gender equality on a global level and a focus on ethnicity at a regional level. In the US and the UK, our goals are based on the data available in these parts of the world, so that we can measure our internal success, or equally find out where we need to pay more attention, against real-world data that shows how we compare with the bigger picture. In addition, there are all sorts of initiatives in every region for other areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. These are supported by dozens of employee networks – including the Pride Network, Ability Network, and Cultural Awareness Network – around the globe to connect employees and build relationships to work together for a common goal. 

Diving deeper into the concrete business side, like society, our client book is diverse. In the US, for example, our strategic client segments include women, business owners, rising generation, athletes and entertainers, and multicultural clients. From the level of support we provide to the products we offer for different stages of life: we work to make sure our clients feel supported, whatever their situation.

What we do and where it matters

We know that what we do within the firm matters outside of it, too. That’s why, in the UBS ecosystem, the key to promoting equality in society is harnessing both internal and external support. 

Whether it’s by running initiatives that aim to address gender inequality by increasing financial empowerment for women, or to identify and engage with vendors and suppliers owned and run by minority groups: we see the importance of targeting areas of our business that look to improve wealth of sectors that are historically underrepresented. 

“We have to do this together, internally and externally,” said Cicilia. “Everyone has to make a conscious effort to connect people for a better world.” 

What diversity means to us

Learn more about what diversity, equity and inclusion means to us.

Related Articles