Citigroup pursuing extensive internal comms campaign

NEW YORK: Citigroup is in the midst of a massive internal communications campaign that hinges on familiarizing its 300,000 employees with a "Five Point Plan" for company improvement.

NEW YORK: Citigroup is in the midst of a massive internal communications campaign that hinges on familiarizing its 300,000 employees with a "Five Point Plan" for company improvement.

The financial giant's reputation has taken hits from several recent scandals in Europe, Japan, and the US. It kicked off the campaign March 1 with a video presentation titled "The Story of Citigroup," shown to employees in town hall-style meetings. In April, the company will begin a mandatory online ethics training course for employees.

In conjunction with that, Citigroup has established an employee "ethics hotline," which is already up and running. The company also plans to present results from internal "Voice of the Employee" surveys to workers themselves, not just managers.

"We haven't really done an effective job of sharing it with the broader employee population," said public affairs director Leah Johnson.

The Five Point Plan is scheduled for full implementation in 12 to 18 months. It emphasizes new management training, tighter financial controls, and greater dialogue between employees and executives.

"One of the most important things is intensifying [and] enhancing the level of communication we have with employees," Johnson said. "Internal communications has been the vehicle through which that's happened."

Citigroup's communications team arranged for CEO Charles Prince to travel around the world while the plan was being formulated, soliciting ideas from workers in large meetings. "Some of the ideas come from employees," noted Johnson.

Prince is scheduled for more "Town Hall" meetings in the third and fourth quarter of this year.

While the focus of the plan is internal, Citigroup has openly discussed it with the press, and Prince has spoken to reporters and editorial boards about it. Johnson said that at a company of Citigroup's size, nothing can stay internal for long.

"When you send something to 300,000 employees, very often that is almost a public release," she said. In fact, reporters called the company on the same day a preliminary memo was sent out in February.

Citigroup is hoping that the scale of the ambitious plan will affect the company at all levels, and allow it to shed its recent image woes around the world.

"The goal is for all employees to be on the same page when it comes to compliance," Johnson said, "and also to become the most respected global financial service company."

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