Press Releases and Announcements
Alternatif Bank is Building Its Corporate Culture Upon Accessible Banking
Alternatif Bank shared with the public at the press conference that it organized the efforts that it has conducted so far with its “Accessible Banking” approach to allow the individuals with disabilities to benefit from banking services, and the point that has been reached in this context.
Focusing on “Accessible Banking” with a rights-based and accessible banking approach for everyone, Alternatif Bank has been continuing its activities that it launched in 2019 on an uninterrupted basis. The Bank shared the distance that they have covered so far together with their Advisory Committee comprising academicians and civil society representatives in various fields ranging from social awareness to training, accessibility, service development, interaction with the youth and corporate and sectoral collaborations as well as the outcomes they have achieved and their goals they aim to accomplish within the scope of their Accessible (Barrier-Free) Banking approach which the Bank considers as a key component of the corporate culture. Alternatif Bank Chief Executive Officer Kaan Gür, Human Resources Executive Vice President Hale Ökmen Ataklı, Retail and Digital Banking Executive Vice President Gökay Dede, and Accessible Banking Advisory Board Members Süleyman Akbulut, Hakan Özgül, Duygu Kayaman, Prof. Dr. Kenan Çayır and Prof. Dr. Itır Erhart attended the press conference held on Friday, 30 September.
We consider it our main goal to ensure that all services we offer are easily accessible by everyone within the framework of equality”.
Providing information on the bank’s vision about and the efforts conducted so far in the field of ‘Accessible Banking”, Alternatif Bank Chief Executive Officer Kaan Gür said: “As Alternatif Bank, we have always focused and will continue to focus on people in line with our ‘Insightful and Advisory Banking’ principles. However, there is also the principle of ‘Responsible Banking’, which we believe is one step ahead of these and which we take as our duty. Every institution is responsible towards the society that it develops in. With this understanding, we started off by saying ‘our goal is to make financial services accessible to everyone’ and adopted the Accessible Banking approach about 4 years ago. We consider it our main goal to ensure that all services we offer are easily accessible to everyone and we address this issue with an equal and rights-based approach, rather than an aid-based approach.
So far, we have covered a long distance together with our valuable Advisory Committee with which we set off on our journey in the field of Accessible Banking; however, we are aware of the fact that we still have a long way to go. Probably the first important step that we have taken here was to change and transform our own business culture. We essentially conduct our efforts in this field under the headings of “Awareness’, ‘Accessibility’, and ‘Collaboration with Young People’. The most important point here is to bring into action the exemplary practices that will further increase awareness. Our training efforts and accessibility-related improvements, the services that we have developed and Ideathon events through which we incorporate the perspective of young people into the process are the steps complementing each other and somehow strengthening the concept of awareness. In all these efforts, our main goal is to be the pioneer of a change of mindset in our sector, not just an institution merely enforcing the rules. Organized under the leadership of the Banks Association of Turkey upon our Bank’s proposal and held with the participation of many institutional representatives from our sector in the recent months, the Accessible Banking Workshop was one of the most concrete milestones for us in this regard. We consider this workshop as an important achievement; and we hope that we can take actions with more concrete steps in the field of Accessible Banking in cooperation with each other as a sector. It is beyond doubt that there is a long way to go in this field. We hope that all these steps we take will be reflected into and further increased in our sector, institutions and the public and our country will become a country setting a good example for the life of the disabled.”
“We started out with our employees, saying that Change starts from within our own organization first”
Relaying information about the activities conducted by Alternatif Bank in the field of Accessible Banking within its own organization, Human Resources Executive Vice President Hale Ökmen Ataklı said: “The works and efforts conducted in the field of Accessible Banking are also of great importance as the supplementary element of our corporate values. Therefore, we started our efforts firstly from our own organization, in other words, our employees. Under the guidance of our Advisory Committee, we organized language and perspective unity trainings for our employees on topics such as impairment and disability definitions, recognition of disability groups and on how to communicate with people with disabilities. We provided about 1,500 hours of training covering the entire organization as a whole, extending from the top management to branch employees and security officers. Accessible banking trainings also constitute an important part of the orientation process that our newly-employed colleagues undergo. On the other hand, we have taken important steps in terms of employment as well. The number of our disabled colleagues working under the roof of Alternatif Bank is quite above the number required by the legislation. These colleagues work in various departments and assume various executive and non-executive positions at the branches and the headquarters without being limited to a specific department or title. On the other hand, we also have customer representatives who can make video calls using sign language at our Customer Communication Center. The sign language training provided for over 100 employees is still ongoing.
On the other hand, we try to collect the opinions of young university students to solve the problems encountered by different disability groups in accessing banking services through Ideathon events that we have been organizing since 2020. Thus, we raise the awareness of young people and find the opportunity to put their innovative ideas into practice. In addition, we also offer internship opportunities at our bank to the students ranking at the top in these organizations.
Our goal is to take further the level of awareness of our employees and the level that we have reached in terms of employment of the disabled people in line with our inclusivity and diversity approach”.
“Our goal is to make digital channels accessible to all segments”
Mentioning about service improvements within the scope of accessibility efforts conducted in the field of Accessible Banking, Retail and Digital Banking Executive Vice President Gökay Dede said; “The Accessible Banking approach also has an aspect that is reflected into our channels and services in addition to awareness and training activities. As we started off accordingly, we developed together with our Advisory Committee a guide setting forth the universal accessibility principles for our branches and the Headquarters building. At this point, we have currently made accessibility arrangements in our Headquarters building and in nearly all of our branches. On the other hand, digital channels entering our lives with a gradually increasing momentum have facilitated the access of the disabled people to banking services. Accordingly, we are continuing our efforts on the Internet and mobile banking side for improvements that will further increase the accessibility of all of different disability groups on an uninterrupted basis. In this context, we have put necessary technical developments into practice on our corporate web site. In addition, we have launched the audio/voice simulation technology in cooperation with BlindLook in order to improve our visually-impaired customers’ experience on our digital channels.
We are moving on with the efforts that sound simple, but create significant impact in terms of accessibility, such as definition of cost-free services for our disabled customers in all bank ATMs, sharing of our visual contents on social media in the formats suitable for audio description, etc. We have recently started our Banking Terms Dictionary Project in collaboration with the Social Rights and Research Association (TOHAD) and The Hearing-Impaired People and Their Families Association (İED). We see that there are difficulties in understanding banking terms in the society, including, in particular, the hearing-impaired people and those with low financial literacy. Therefore, we would like to present and make available to the whole society the content series comprising short videos in which we explained the banking terms most frequently used in daily life using audio description, sign language and simplified text support. We intend to turn our project which we started with 6 terms in the pilot stage into a library covering over a hundred fundamental banking terms within a short period of time.
In conclusion, our goal is to ensure that these channels are accessible to all segments and that our customers with disabilities can fully meet their banking needs … As a bank, our perspective is clear; to blend technology with human being, to include human being in technological processes, and to make all our customers feel a genuine human touch”.