The first time I heard the expression “Bank with a soul” was when I joined Citi, and it got me curious. With close observation, integration and reflection, it started to resonate. Then most recently, with the emergence of the global health crisis; Covid-19, it became very vivid.
At the heart of what we do, is the well-being of all stakeholders and empathy remains at the core of our culture. The belief that we are in this together, and that we have a role to play in our societies, amongst our teams, in collaboration with clients and to our shareholders have been steering our actions.
In Jordan, and while the government was relentlessly working on combating the spread of the disease, making every effort possible to keep Jordanians and residents safe, the private sector responded through contributions in the nation’s fund; “Himmat Watan”. Being part of the Jordanian economy and society for more than 45 years, employing and directly influencing more than 80 Jordanian households, and having the franchise in Jordan as an exporter of talent, Citi warmly met the call of duty. Our contribution was a token of appreciation of all the efforts, and affirming our commitment, partnership and support to the Kingdom.
As part of Citi Foundation signature community programmes, “Pathways to Progress”, and in cooperation with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Jordan has been a recipient of a generous grant that is being directed to support disadvantaged Jordanians and refugees. The programme revolves around creating sustainable living for a capable, yet vulnerable segment in the society. Numerous heartwarming and inspirational stories have been crafted since the launch of the programme. Judging by the success in Jordan, and other countries, Citi decided and during the Covid-19 situation to launch a campaign titled “Double the Good”. For every $1 donated by a Citi banker in their country to help alleviate the impacts of Covid-19, another dollar will be matched by Citi. In Europe, Middle East and Africa, we collected more than $ 500,000 which will be directed to support vulnerable people in our region through the well-established partnership and program with IRC.
Throughout the past 15 years, Citi provided financial awards to more than 300 entrepreneurs under the Citi Micro-Entrepreneurship Awards programme. The award aimed at encouraging Jordanians, especially youth and women, to innovate and leave a significant impact on their communities and families. The journey we led in partnership with Jordan River Foundation, was very enjoyable, and full of stories of resilience, ambition and perseverance.
At the forefront of our leadership agenda is the team’s well-being. During the past couple of months, while each of us have been fighting our own battles, Citi team was skillfully managing challenges; serving clients on-site and remotely, taking care of family, helping children navigate a new e-learning experience, and supporting the community. For this, our Bank’s leadership implemented a number of initiatives globally, and the franchise in Jordan was no exception. Every employee was given an extra day-off to unplug and enjoy quality time with loved ones. Additionally, to help ease the financial burden imposed by the pandemic on employees and their families, a onetime special compensation award targeted and was provided to colleagues most likely to feel economic hardship from COVID-19 related challenges.
For the past 15 years, Citi has been running a Global Community Day in which colleagues, clients, alumni, family and friends collaborate in giving back to the community and in contributing to the greater good. This year, and given the Covid-19 situation, this important day had to be reimagined through virtual initiatives and/or independent volunteering. Volunteerism compliments our day-to-day business model and our mission of enabling growth and economic progress. Connecting people to their purpose, help them further grow as better individuals, teams and engines of positive change.
Now, do you agree with me that firms can have a soul? And that collectively we can make a difference?
Nour Jarar is The CEO of Citibank Jordan. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times
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