BACB cultural change case workshops case study

  • Company:
  • Support wider cultural change ambitions
  • Devised tailored training initiatives for managers and employees.
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ETS has a long-standing partnership with British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB), dating back to 2010 when we first ran their engagement survey. They approached us to ask for support in embedding cultural change at the bank in relation to promoting diversity and equality.


A big part of BACB’s brand identity is about valuing and celebrating diversity. They have employees based in London as well as North Africa and the Middle East, so their team is naturally very diverse with people of different races, religions and cultures coming together.

They see it as a unique selling point of the bank and, as part of their commitment to high performance, their engagement survey measures questions relating to perceptions of fairness, equal opportunities and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. Employees already rate BACB favourably as a fair and inclusive place to work, but the bank was keen to further enhance this area and reinforce ties to their core values.

Tommy King, Associate Director, Human Resources at BACB, explains:

“We were keen to embed the values of diversity, inclusion and equality in a simple and engaging way so that these things would become truly lived and breathed by employees in everything they do.”


BACB’s brief to us led us to create three bespoke workshops, which focused on leveraging equality and diversity across the business at various stages of the employee life cycle.

Sofia Brzostowski, Business Psychologist at ETS, comments:

“It can be difficult to pinpoint key interventions to best bring about cultural change but our approach involves tying these in to different touch points in the employee life cycle.”

This approach better enables change by keeping the momentum going, having more routes to communicate the message and ensuring you’re not only developing these values in existing employees but are also recruiting people with these values too.

Designing the workshops

In designing the workshops, we had to think about keeping the sessions short, impactful and interactive to maximise attendance. This is also in-keeping with the 70:20:10 learning model, which suggests only 10 percent of learning should be formal ‘classroom-based’. Our aim was for the workshops to spark discussion among employees and act as a catalyst for further development outside of the formal sessions, through peer to peer (20 percent) and on the job learning (70 percent).

Ensuring the programme content was relevant to everyone attending was also key, so BACB timed the appraisal workshops to run just before the appraisal process and interview skills training as well as just before some internal recruitment activities.

The three workshops we created were as follows:

Interview skills workshop – a fast-paced and interactive 2-hour session aimed at hiring managers and those involved with recruitment. It focuses on overcoming bias in recruitment. It encourages a more objective, accurate and fair approach to interviews and assessment to ensure that you are always picking the best candidate for the role.

Appraisal skills workshop – another very ‘hands-on’ 90-minute session that’s intended for line managers who conduct appraisals as well as employees at all levels who have appraisals as part of their annual personal development plan. This looks at building on the skills needed to give feedback in an objective and fair way and how to receive feedback in a way that is constructive. BACB plans to roll this out to the whole London office in early 2017, ahead of the yearly appraisals.

Equal opportunities workshop – this 90-minute workshop is for all employees at BACB. It looks at helping employees to understand their role as individuals in promoting (or inhibiting) equal opportunities. It does this by exploring the typical processes and behaviours that employees demonstrate day to day.

The common theme that underpins each of the three workshops is of understanding how to avoid acting on our unconscious biases when making important decisions at work, relating to things like hiring and employee development. Through raising awareness of this behaviour, offering employees practical tips and guidance, they’ll be more able to make the best and most objective decisions.


The immediate response from employees who’ve attended the respective training sessions has been hugely positive. Over 92 percent of those attending the equal opportunities workshop said afterwards that they were now “more knowledgeable” about equal opportunities and how to promote them at BACB. And, managers attending the interview skills workshop felt they were, on average, almost 10 percent more effective in interviewing candidates after the training.

Furthermore, senior managers at BACB are also confident that they now have a programme in place that will further embed and enhance a culture of equality, diversity and inclusion from the grass roots, as Tommy King explains:

“We’re very optimistic that the workshops will start conversations in the office, foster greater collaboration and empower people to think about how we can all make small changes to the way we act at work, which collectively could have a huge impact on BACB becoming an even more inclusive and progressive organisation.”