Gaining an edge through diversity

Interview with CEO Thomas Groß

What does the diversity of the workforce have to do with the growth of the Bank? And what resources does the Bank intend to draw on to cope with rising demand for sustainable financing solutions? We spoke with the CEO Thomas Groß about the issues that have become most prominent at Helaba during his tenure.

The importance of sustainability and sustainable financing solutions has increased markedly over the last few years. Has the pandemic pushed these topics back into the shadows somewhat?

Not at all. Sustainability remains the next big challenge for credit institutions after the wave of new regulations, the current period of ultra-low interest rates and digitalisation. Sustainability, after all, affects all of the main areas of a bank, from operating business to internal processes and structures. We undoubtedly have an advantage here because sustainability has always been hard-wired into the Bank's DNA.

Helaba has successfully positioned itself as a specialist for sustainable financial products, most notably in respect of green promissory notes in the real estate and energy sectors. Social and political pressure continues to grow, however, with the EU, for example, aiming to achieve climate neutrality and a circular economy by 2050, and I consequently expect demand for sustainable financing solutions to exceed supply by a significant margin for the foreseeable future.

How does Helaba intend to meet this challenge?

We have created the new post of Chief Sustainability Officer, a role we filled internally with the appointment of Petra Sandner, to pool opportunities across the whole of the Helaba Group. Ms. Sandner's remit also includes HelabaSustained, a programme that is going to help us substantially improve our ability to support customers with sustainable financial products. Proceeding jointly with all our subsidiaries, we are defining the strategic objectives for Helaba's sustainability management activities across the whole of the Group and working out what steps we need to take as a result.

Sustainable finance and the alignment of our product portfolio are of course a particular priority. Just as important as the ideas we decide to pursue on the operational side is our capacity to adapt our corporate culture to match. I am thinking here of sustainable HR management and the related issue of the diversity of our workforce. The more we do to incorporate and actively build up diversity, the more successful we will be, both as an employer and as a reliable partner in a more sustainable economy. I'm absolutely certain of this.

„We need specific actions and objectives to speed up the process to ensure our organisation is truly diverse.“ 

Thomas Groß


Promoting the common good and protecting the natural foundations of life is a corporate obligation for us.

The financial sector remains a strongly male-dominated environment, especially at the uppermost levels. The public clamour for diversity and equality of opportunity grows stronger all the time …

These calls for change are entirely justified in my opinion. Let me say, first of all, that we have a holistic approach to sustainability and prioritise all the ESG criteria including fair corporate governance and social responsibility as well as climate protection. And promoting diversity – or, looking at it the other way around, preventing discrimination – clearly falls under the heading of social responsibility. One company on its own cannot hope to solve what is really a task for the whole of society, but we can certainly play our part and set a good example.

We have accordingly signed the Diversity Charter and adopted a mandatory code of conduct that prohibits all forms of discrimination. The use of gender-neutral language has already been standard procedure at Helaba for quite some time. My personal view, though, is that we still need specific actions and objectives to speed up the process and ensure our organisation is truly diverse in practice as well as on paper.

What specific actions do you have in mind?

The area in which we undoubtedly have most scope to make a difference is our HR work. We have set ourselves the target of having women in 30 percent of our management positions and are implementing corresponding requirements in our applications processes and in succession planning to help us make it happen. Life-stage models are another key element. We have also developed an empowerment programme of seminars and mentoring opportunities specifically for women to help our female staff chart their next steps and actively plan their career.

We have this focus on promoting women because they represent the biggest group, but ultimately what I am interested in is a sustainable corporate culture in which everyone genuinely feels they can achieve what they want to achieve provided they are sufficiently motivated and put in the necessary effort. And I do mean everyone, regardless of gender or age, disability, nationality or ethnic origin, parental responsibilities, religion, ideology or sexual orientation.


The Helaba Group aims to have women in at least 30 % of management positions in future

The social element is self-explanatory but is there also an economic justification for seeking a more diverse workforce?

Absolutely, and this relates directly to the focus areas that sit alongside sustainability at the top of Helaba's strategic agenda, namely the further diversification of our business model and the digital transformation. Diversification and the diversity of our staff are for me two sides of the same coin.

We need a wide range of perspectives and technical skills if we are to identify new potential for growth and carry on living up to the different expectations of investors, customers and partners. It has been scientifically proven that diverse teams produce better results. Why? Because they are more innovative, creative, empathetic and flexible and their concepts are better thought out overall.

Those sound like attributes we need more than ever in a digitalised and ever faster moving business world.

Precisely. Greater diversity and rapid digitalisation go hand in hand. A modern IT infrastructure is a significant prerequisite for diverse teams. Mobile working capabilities can enable parents and people with disabilities, for example, to contribute more effectively, while smart tools can help facilitate direct and agile cooperation unhindered by physical distance or possible language barriers. And it is this intuitive use of digital solutions and working methods, of course, that pushes through the strategic digital transformation for the company as a whole, drives the associated cultural change and generates energy for innovations and new business ideas.

Further Storys

We, the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen Girozentrale (Helaba), use cookies that are absolutely necessary to provide you with our website. No additional cookies will be set for the duration of your visit to this website if you close the banner by clicking on "Decline". If you give your consent, we will use additional cookies to process information about your use of our website for the purposes of statistics (such as measuring reach) and marketing (such as displaying personalized content).

Your consent is voluntary and not necessary for the use of the website. By clicking on "Settings", you can individually determine in detail which cookies we may use based on your consent.

You can also consent to all additional cookies at the same time by clicking on "Accept".

You can revoke your consent at any time via the "shield icon" in the toolbar on each page or change your cookie settings there.


When you visit our website, Helaba makes use of required and optional cookies. Cookies are small text files that are stored on your computer and saved by your browser. Their purpose is to make our range of services more user-friendly, for example so that you do not have to re-confirm an automatically generated disclaimer more than once. Cookies that we use are so-called “session cookies” because they are automatically reset at the end of your visit to our website.

Further information on the use of cookies on helaba.com can be found at Data protection.

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
disclaimer_disclosureRequirements [helaba]necessary: Verification when accessing certain (sub) areas of the websitesessionno
disclaimer_residenceGermany [helaba]necessary: Verification when accessing certain (sub) areas of the websitesessionno
hideCookieNotice [helaba]necessary: Saves that the cookie or data protection notice will not be requested every time you visit.30 daysno
WSESSIONID [helaba]necessary: Standard cookie to use with PHP session data.sessionno

The sole purpose of using analytical services on our website is to optimise the online information we provide. Data collected in this way, such as IP address, date or time of the request, contents of the page accessed or the browser used do not enable any users to be directly identified. Analysis by Helaba of a user’s data is not intended to identify any individuals or conduct any profiling, in order to, for instance, send online advertising to visitors of our website.

You  find more information on statistics cookies here: Data protection

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
_et_coid [etracker]statistic: cookie detection2 years / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
allowLoadExternRessources [helaba]statistic: Saves the user decision that external components may be loaded automatically.30 days / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
allowTracking [helaba]statistic: Saves the user decision that visitor behavior may be tracked.30 days / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_ctst [etracker]statistic: Is used to detect whether cookies are activated in the visitor's browser or not.session / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_pdc [etracker]statistic: Contains Base64-coded visitor history data (is customer, newsletter recipient, visitor ID, displayed smart messages) for personalization.2 years / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
BT_sdc [etracker]statistic: Contains Base64-encoded data of the current visitor session (referrer, number of pages, number of seconds since the beginning of the session), which is used for personalization purposes.session / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno
isSdEnabled [etracker]statistic: Detection of whether the visitor's scroll depth is measured.1 hour / Evaluation to improve the user experience of our websiteno

On our website, we use a so-called re-targeting technology provided by The UK Trade Desk Ltd., 10th Floor, 1 Bartholomew Close, London EC1A 7BL, United Kingdom. With this technology, cookies (so-called third-party cookies) are stored on your hard drive when you visit our website. These cookies are either permanent or temporary cookies that are automatically deleted after a certain period of time has elapsed.

You find more information on marketing cookies here: Data protection

cookie [publisher]purposestorage period / Follow-up processingthird country transfer
EDAAT [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores a temporary security token for EDAA sign-out pages such as http://www. youronlinechoices. com/1 hour / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TDCPM [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Matching IDs to avoid redundant calls.365 days / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes/ United Kingdom
TDID [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: recognition of web profiles over time on different websites.365 days / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TTDOptOut [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores the decision to opt out of re-targeting.5 years / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
TTDOptOutOfDataSale [.adsrvr.org]Marketing: Stores the decision against selling data to third parties.5 years / evaluation for the playout of banners for marketing purposesyes / United Kingdom
No choice made so far
Partial selection made
Agreed to all cookies