Laetitia Griffith: “You should leave the world a better place”

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At the end of last year, Laetitia Griffith was appointed to the bank’s Supervisory Board. Having been nominated a candidate by the Employee Council, Laetitia believes that she has a greater obligation towards the bank’s workforce. So who is Laetitia Griffith and what is her mission at ABN AMRO?

Laetitia Griffith (54) started her career at the Dutch Ministry of Justice, working as a policy adviser. During her time in politics she represented the conservative-liberal VVD party, including in the Dutch House of Representatives and in the Municipal Executive of Amsterdam, where her portfolio was Finance and Economic Affairs. She currently holds various additional positions, such as serving on the supervisory boards of TenneT, Gassan Diamonds and Holding Nationale Goede Doelen Loterijen – and now on ABN AMRO’s Supervisory Board too. 

How do you see the bank?

“ABN AMRO is an organisation with a professional and engaged workforce. Banks are noticeably under intense scrutiny from the regulators, which for the bank’s people is manifested in the number of JST inspections. The investigation by the Dutch public prosecutor has also had a significant impact. The major shifts that the bank’s currently undergoing are sustainability and digitalisation: both developments are necessary to prepare for the future. Further effort is being put into important issues such as KYC, detecting financial crime and implementing the endless stream of new laws and regulations. The key to doing all of this successfully lies with the workforce. I’ve been meeting people who are motivated and who won’t back down from the challenges facing the bank.”

What will be your focus as a member of the Supervisory Board?

“I’ll be on the nomination and remuneration committees, for a start. The first committee handles the policy for appointing new officers, and the second deals with the performances and remuneration of the organisation’s top executives. I’ll also have an observer role on the audit committee. Having been nominated by the Employee Council, I’ll give particular consideration to the perspective of the workforce and the organisation’s culture. The Employee Council has a difficult job: 18 thousand colleagues means 18 thousand opinions. I’m not entirely new at that, though: at TenneT my appointment to the supervisory board was also on the works council’s nomination, and when I worked for the Ministry of Justice I co-chaired the works council.”

What do you hope to achieve at ABN AMRO?

“Mostly, I want to create connections and encourage people to work together. I’d also like to contribute to the bank’s strategy and purpose: Banking for better, for generations to come. Another of my ambitions is to improve the organisation in terms of its HR portfolio, including talent management and succession planning. Diversity is an aspect that I feel strongly about: diverse teams in the broadest sense, comprising not only different genders, but also cultural backgrounds, ages and areas of expertise. I want people to take pride in working for ABN AMRO, in having the opportunity to contribute to the bank’s profitability and a social engagement, either through the Foundation or otherwise, that derives from an intrinsic motivation. Showing that social face to the outside world, that sense of connection, reflects what this bank is all about – and what I’m about. Doing all this with diverse teams leads to a better mutual understanding and better performances, and ultimately it benefits our clients too.”

What is your opinion of the bank’s sustainability strategy?

“It matches my own ideals, particularly since sustainability is such an important part of my personal life. I believe that you should leave the world in a better condition than you found it in. That’s a very important principle. I drive an electric car and I’ve installed solar panels on the roof of my house. When I leave a room I’ll automatically turn off the lights. Sometimes I’ll leave the room, switch off the lights without thinking, and suddenly my husband will be yelling, ‘Hey, I’m still here!’ A bank is part of society. That means that the bank also has a duty to make a positive contribution to climate, to fight waste and to pursue a sustainability agenda. That’s what gives you credibility. And the bank’s people feel more connected to their employer if the bank’s actions and messages support that.”

Laetitia was born in Paramaribo, in Surinam, and moved to Amsterdam at the age of 21 to study Law at VU Amsterdam. Her family later followed her to the Netherlands. She now lives in Driemond, on the edge of Amsterdam, with her husband. Her relationship with her family is sacred.

“I lead a busy life. I’m not just a member of the Supervisory Board, I’m also a wife, a sister, an aunt. My husband and my family give me a rock to lean on. I need that. One of my sisters works in healthcare, another in education. My family keep me grounded, and they help me relax when I need to. A proper work-life balance is very important to me. I enjoy gardening and going for walks.”

Is there anything else we should know about you?

“I’m an open book: everything you want to know about me is on the Internet. Staff can always approach me directly with any questions they may have. I’m curious about people, I’m open to everyone. I’ll walk through every part of the organisation, and join a random table for lunch. So don’t be alarmed to find a member of the Supervisory Board sitting next to you in the company restaurant.”

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