Diversity & Inclusion Q&A: Vinay Kapoor, BNP Paribas
In honor of Pride Month, Markets Media caught up with Vinay Kapoor, Americas Head of Diversity and Inclusion at BNP Paribas, to discuss the importance of LGBT Inclusion in the workplace.
Describe your role and responsibilities as Head of Diversity & Inclusion in the Americas for BNP Paribas.
I am responsible for the leadership, development and implementation of the Diversity & Inclusion strategy across the Americas.
To do this, I work closely with HR and senior business leaders to facilitate the integration of D&I into people and business processes and practices. I also partner with multiple stakeholders in the business to ensure alignment to commercial goals, and ultimately to facilitate a wider culture of inclusion.
When was your position created at BNP and what was the rationale behind it?
I joined BNP Paribas in New York as the Americas Head of Diversity & Inclusion in 2017. Prior to this, I occupied the role of UK Territory Head of Diversity & Inclusion, working in London for the bank.
While the Americas position is relatively new, Diversity & Inclusion have always been part of BNP Paribas’ core values. This type of position is no longer a “nice to have” for corporates, but necessary if they want to remain relevant and innovative. The bank wanted to make sure it was attracting and retaining a heavily diverse group of talent to better serve and understand its clients, and to promote various forms of critical thinking and collaboration in general.
Discuss the importance of LGBT Inclusion in the workplace, both generally and specific to Wall Street/BNP Paribas?
LGBTQ+ people want to be able to be themselves at work. They want to feel comfortable around and supported by their colleagues, and prove more positive and efficient in the workplace when they can, which isn’t surprising. A recent report based on YouGov research found that 35% of LGBT people have hidden their identity at work because they were afraid of discrimination. This number rises to 42% for black, Asian and minority ethnic LGBT staff and 51% for trans staff.
When we make it a priority to include LGBTQ+ people in the workplace and train our LGBTQ+ allies to support them, we’re paving the way for a much more collective and competent workforce, helping our employees to better understand themselves and the people they work with and for on a daily basis.
At BNP Paribas, we’ve hosted numerous Unconscious Bias Leadership Workshops, which have now been rolled out to over 4,000 US-based employees. We fully believe that such trainings will ensure that diversity becomes business as usual, making our employees better leaders and making the bank a more effective leader as a result.
How does diversity and inclusion support business growth for BNP Paribas?
When we become aware of and more sensitive to our colleagues’ differences, both the visible and less obvious, it gives us the opportunity to be more open-minded and to work together more easily. Raising employee engagement globally through these D&I initiatives leads to higher profitability, productivity, and lower turnover.
Just as we embrace modernization in our products and offerings, we need to view talent differently to ensure the bank continues to grow and succeed appropriately.
What do you see for the future of diversity and inclusion initiatives on Wall Street?
There’s still work to be done, of course. I’ve witnessed a significant shift in the diversity and inclusion conversation over the years, with a greater understanding that it’s really about good leadership.
Removing the systemic institutionalized bias found in corporate America and on Wall Street in general will be a long road ahead, most likely to span over the next few generations, but it is happening and the result will be greater awareness of others among us all.