Valuing Our People - Corporate Sustainability | Ulster Bank

Making a difference for colleagues

Our ambition is to be number one for customer service, trust and advocacy. Our colleagues are key to achieving this goal. We’re building a healthy and inclusive culture throughout the bank, nurturing the development of our people and helping to make the bank a great place to work.

In 2016 we continued to change our business and how we structure ourselves to serve our customers. Notwithstanding those changes we have stayed consistent and focused in our objective to engage and motivate our people. We continued to roll out our bank-wide excellence in leadership programme Determined to Lead, made further progress on building a diverse, balanced workforce and introduced new measures to advance the health and wellbeing of our people.

Determined to Lead

Determined to lead (Dtl) is a leadership programme that was introduced in 2015 across RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank. It teaches the skills and techniques that enable people leaders to lead, manage and coach their teams so they make positive behaviour change and improve their performance. The programme is supported by Performance Excellence Consultants who coach our leaders and embed the programme. The bank-wide investment in Dtl means that all people leaders have a common leadership language which allows for consistency in how we serve our customers and work together.

During 2016 across the three modules of the programme, 1,067 leaders throughout all parts of Ulster Bank undertook Dtl training. Further workshops are rolling out in 2017 to ensure all of our People Leaders have attended the full programme.

Service Excellence

This is an RBS-wide customer service programme introduced in 2016 as part of Dtl to further embed an ethos of service excellence throughout the bank. It sets out the consistent behaviours of great customer service that we need to build customer trust and advocacy. The programme comprises four levels of training, ranging from ‘Awareness’ through to’ Expert’ level, depending on the role requirement. The key message is that great service is expected of everyone whether we serve customers or colleagues - everything that we do ultimately impacts on our customers.

Diversity and Inclusion

Ensuring a diverse workforce is fundamental to being a great bank for our customers, and a great place to work for our colleagues. Together with RBS, we’re making good progress on our key priorities.

Promoting awareness: One of the main ways we drive awarenessvof what being inclusive means is through Unconscious Bias training. 92% of colleagues completed this last year. We also launched an Inclusion Champions framework where colleagues are encouraged to promote Diversity & Inclusion by becoming a Mentor, Sponsor, Role Model or Ally.

Gender balance: We’re seeing the benefit from measures taken in recent years such as our focus on female talent development, performance management and recruitment. Our 2020 goal was to have women make up at least 30% of our senior leadership across every area of the Bank. We have achieved 42% at our executive level and 32% at the next leadership level. During the year we also participated in a cross-industry mentoring programme in conjunction with Ireland’s 30% Club and the Irish Management Institute.

Supporting LGBT employees: RBS now supports one of the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) employee-led networks in the UK and Ireland – the Rainbow Network. This is a 1,600-strong global network of colleagues working to support the LGBT community both inside and outside the bank.

Last year we launched the Rainbow Network in Ireland, championed by our Managing Director of Commercial Banking, who is also the bank’s sponsor for Diversity and Inclusion. During the year we ran a number of networking events through our partnership with GLEN and also developed guidance for line managers and colleagues to support colleagues undergoing gender transition.


  • Over 1,200 people availed of health checks
  • 2,919 people participated in the Global Corporate Challenge.
    Our teams won the Global Outstanding Achievement award for walking a total of 675,000 miles

Taking care of our health and wellbeing is essential for us to be at our best for our customers, colleagues, family and friends. In 2016, we continued to increase engagement and awareness of the support available to employees to improve health and wellbeing. We introduced new, targeted health initiatives including free health screening covering blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, weight, heart and lung health.

We benefitted as part of RBS from our bank-wide Employee Assistance Programme – LifeWorks – which offers access to services such as legal advice, counselling and family support services. We also promoted fitness through the Global Corporate Challenge in which 2,919 colleagues participated in 2016.

These interventions were promoted at regular intervals, especially during Wellbeing Fortnight in September, when colleagues in every part of the bank availed of additional workshops and seminars on nutrition, healthy eating, yoga and mindfulness, fitness and mental health.


Innovation in all its forms opens up many opportunities to develop new ways of working, improved products and better ways to serve our customers. To ensure we leverage these opportunities, we introduced a new innovation programme, called Bounce, which aims to embed a culture of innovation and empowerment within our organisation. The programme helps colleagues develop their skills in creative thinking, problem solving and collaboration to ultimately deliver better service for customers. The programme content was designed through collaboration between our new Digital and Innovation Team and our Academy, involving workshops, problem-solving clinics and innovation toolkits and resources.

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