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From recruitment to promotion: how HSBC fully invests in graduates and interns

When you join HSBC UK as a graduate or intern, you will be joining a bank that prides itself on being a true meritocracy.
The approach HSBC takes to diversity and inclusion was a strong motivator for why I joined.

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HSBC is interested in how it can help you to make the most of your talents and be your true self in the workplace, whoever that self may be. ‘The great thing about HSBC is that you can be yourself,’ says Charlotte Leer, the UK emerging talent lead. ‘Across the business, we understand that our differences – for example in gender, ethnicity and neurodiversity – provide a more enriching environment. We build teams with people from every background and discipline of study because diverse thinking helps us understand our clients and our local communities better.’

This emphasis on recognising and nurturing individuals’ talents and potential begins with the recruitment process and continues throughout your career.

A new recruitment process for the new normal

HSBC has recently made substantial changes to its intern and graduate recruitment process. Not only can it now be completed from the comfort of your own home, it also puts your strengths and your values at the centre. ‘We focus more on your values, strengths and potential and less on the subject you studied,’ says Charlotte. HSBC UK operate a ‘CV blind’ application process so that the assessors do not see any personal information, for example your age, gender, ethnicity, university or degree subject.

In fact, HSBC’s programmes are open to all degree disciplines and you do not necessarily need to have industry-related experience. ‘There is an assumption that you need to have a certain degree subject or have completed multiple internships to go into a banking career, but that is absolutely not the case for us,’ says Charlotte. ‘We actively welcome students from a range of subjects. You will be given all the training you need to succeed.’

The new process involves:

  • a short application form capturing role-specific data
  • an untimed online immersive assessment, which is designed not only to help you find out more about HSBC but whether you have the strengths, values, numerical and critical reasoning ability to be successful at the bank
  • a timed job simulator, in which you will watch videos depicting real-life job situations and answer questions, sometimes in written format; sometimes by uploading a video recording. This will help you discover more about the specific business area you have applied for and will enable you to showcase your strengths and, in particular, numerical reasoning
  • a virtual assessment centre, which will allow you to virtually meet professionals working at HSBC, take part in a series of exercises and complete a one-to-one interview.

Although you should do some research into the bank – and particularly the division and programmes you are applying for – the process is otherwise designed not to require a lot of preparation from you. After all, the whole purpose is to gauge your natural responses to situations and how they align to HSBC’s culture, values and way of working. As such, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. ‘Just be genuine, be friendly and show your character,’ advises Raj Jheeta, the graduate coordinator in the recruitment team. ‘We want to see the real you and what you can bring to HSBC.’

Get more advice on how to succeed at HSBC’s new recruitment process.

A place where you belong

When we ask experienced professionals working at HSBC UK what they would advise their younger selves, the answer is invariably around having the confidence to be their true selves in the workplace. For example, Dave Shaw, diversity and inclusion manager, would tell himself: ‘You are not doing anything wrong by hiding in the closet because it’s what’s right for you at the time, but you will regret waiting so long to be an openly gay man.’

The goal of the bank is to ensure not just that the culture is diverse and inclusive but that it cultivates a feeling of belonging. As Dilum Jirasinghe, regional head of learning and talent development, says: ‘That’s the real prize – when people feel they are truly welcomed by all and can bring their real and authentic selves to the workplace.’ Dave agrees: ‘Diversity and inclusion is a common thread through everything all employees do in their jobs and lives, so we must get it right. We must focus on those areas where work still needs to be done, without forgetting to maintain what we’ve changed already.’

Shibani Datta, who is on the wealth and personal banking graduate programme, certainly feels like she belongs: ‘The approach HSBC takes to diversity and inclusion was a strong motivator for why I joined the bank and I have felt able to easily share my thoughts and opinions. Differences are championed and celebrated, and feelings and experiences are validated.’

To help consolidate this feeling of belonging and ensure that a diverse range of voices are heard, HSBC facilitates a number of conversations around diversity and inclusion. In the UK, these include 16 employee resource groups (ERGs), which sit under seven global networks and focus on (for example) gender, age, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, faith, working parents and carers, and ability. There are also common interest communities through which employees can connect and build their knowledge of a variety of topics, such as national cultural differences.

Shibani is a member of the Embrace network for ethnicity and race and says: ‘ERGs provide a safe space for you to share your lived experiences, and to meet people who recognise and relate to core elements of your identity that can sometimes be difficult to articulate.’

Interns and graduates are actively encouraged to participate in ERGs. Elliot Cox, who is on the commercial banking graduate programme, first realised how important diversity and inclusion initiatives were to the senior leaders through attending ERG events as an intern. ‘It’s what attracted me to get involved with the Pride ERG, which I represent as graduate lead. It has enabled me to meet colleagues passionate about diversity and inclusion and LGBTQ+ inclusion in particular, build the connection between the graduate population and Pride UK, and help to promote an inclusive environment that is open to all, as exemplified by our events.’

A graduate experience tailored to you

Upon joining HSBC UK, you will receive the induction and training you would expect from a leading global company – for example, talks by senior leaders, support to achieve professional qualifications and extensive classroom and online training opportunities.

You will have access to a huge network of professionals all interested in your development. A line manager, a programme manager, a buddy and a mentor are just for starters because the early careers team has set up seven different focuses or streams for your development while on the graduate programme – ranging from making you feel at home within HSBC to helping you develop those intangible soft skills for career success. As Charlotte says, time and energy are invested in you because you are valued.

This content first appeared in the UK 300, a product developed and created by the editors at TARGETjobs.

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