Call for diversity in financial services
In an age when companies of all sizes are taking a close look at their workforce and leadership mix, how do banks – traditionally white and male in the lead – fare with this assessment?
In an article published last September, management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. applauded the growing presence of women in corporate leadership, including in the financial services industry, but noted that there is ” important work to be done “to ensure equal opportunities for people of color. .
âThe financial services talent pipeline shows a lack of representation of people of color, especially at senior levels,â the article said. âRepresentation in financial services is particularly effective in achieving equity, as the industry controls the capital and assets that confer disproportionate power and influence over markets, the business landscape and entrepreneurship. “
Of course, diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI) goes beyond gender, race and male / female ethnicity. It understands gender identity, age and cultural background.
So what steps are financial institutions in the Wilmington market taking to ensure their businesses are diverse, fair and inclusive?
âWe are committed to having diverse experiences and perspectives at all levels within our business, and our work is still ongoing,â said Courtney Spencer, Executive Director of Live Oak Bank. âOur overall makeup is also divided from a gender perspective, but there is still work to be done at the leadership level. We take intentional steps to raise awareness and create fair opportunities across Live Oak, including our board of directors, leadership teams, middle managers, new hires and interns.
Spencer noted that this work will take time. Indeed, on Live Oak’s 21-member management team featured on its website, there are six women and no African-Americans. Its nine-member board includes two women, one of whom is black.
The bank is setting internal DCI goals and has signed up for the HBCU Challenge to increase recruiting efforts at historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina, Spencer said. Live Oak also formalized a DCI committee, started affinity groups, organized race relations forums, and created a team to focus on underserved communities.
In March, Live Oak spin-off nCino brought in one of its existing managers to lead its DCI efforts as well as its community engagement and philanthropy. In his new role, Zedrick Applin continues the work started over a year ago at the financial technology company, which now employs approximately 1,100 people at its Wilmington headquarters, Salt Lake City office and four locations. international.
âWe have a company kickoff every February to talk about goals for what the company is doing for the year,â said Applin. âSo in 2020, when we launched our business, our CEO expressed the importance of really wanting to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, even before all of the events of last summer. do not happen. “
The first step in the business was to form a nine-person Diversity and Inclusion Board including Applin, who was then chosen to lead the initiatives.
Currently, the nine-person management of nCino includes a woman. Its eight-person board of directors also includes a woman. There is no black member of either body.
Truist, the bank resulting from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust, has two women on its management team of 12 people. One of them is Black, as is one of the men on the team. Its board of directors – 22 in total – includes seven women and four black members. Two of the black directors are women.
âAt Truist, our goal is to inspire and build better lives and communities, and we believe these values ââguide us to be intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion, both within our business and in all of our departments, âCharles Mattox, president of the Wilmington market for Truist, said in a statement. âWhile we are still on our way, our focus remains unwavering. We have publicly denounced social injustices and racism of all kinds, reinforcing that there is no room for hatred, discrimination or prejudice in Truist.
Credit unions are on a similar path with DEI, but can have a head start.
Since the credit union movement spread from Europe to the United States in the early 1900s, these nonprofit financial cooperatives have maintained a set of seven principles that describe their mission, independence and responsibilities. towards their members and their communities. To that original list of seven principles was added an eighth, which deals with EDI, said Richard DeCrescente, vice president of retail experience at Excite Credit Union in North Carolina.
Excite, which has two locations in Wilmington and two locations in its headquarters city of San Jose, Calif., Has an inherent advantage, DeCrescente said.
âBecause our credit union is headquartered in Silicon Valley, we have a good base of diverse leaders and businesses. [staff], “he said.” We have Asian Americans, Latinos, Mexican Americans and Vietnamese. Here in Wilmington, we have branched out over the past year with our new hires.
Sarah Stone, who will succeed DeCrescente when he retires this month, believes that diverse leadership teams and boards of directors are helping their organizations become more successful – a position supported by McKinsey & Co. and others. consultants.
âYou get that diverse perspective that helps open up the discussion and the decision-making process,â she said. âThe process may take longer, but the results are better. “
Women make up nearly half of Excite’s executives and nearly a third of its board of directors.
How are these financial institutions actually fulfilling their commitments to DCI?
Excite is looking for opportunities to care for those underserved by the banking industry, DeCrescente said.
Spencer said Live Oak Bank is looking for ways to diversify its supplier network and, through its lending efforts and its upcoming Small Business Center, is working to help small businesses owned by women and minorities. to success.
âPutting capital in the hands of small business owners who have historically been underserved by the banking industry is of paramount importance to our business,â she said. âWe continue to mobilize our lenders to find entrepreneurs in underserved communities to support our country’s economy. This includes loans targeted to rural communities, women, minorities and ex-combatants. “
Since nCino has offices in the UK, Australia, Canada and Japan, its corporate culture will naturally be enhanced by the influence of its international workforce. Applin said that while its initial DCI efforts will focus on the company’s U.S. workforce, it is already laying the groundwork for a broader perspective.
âI have built relationships with the employees in these offices to make it easier for me to translate my strategy and how they can get involved,â he said. “For example, in the United Kingdom [office] they are already emphasizing female leadership.
“Each place will look different, but what we strive to do is make sure everyone is as diverse and fair as possible, knowing that we need to be mindful of that culture.”
The Truist Community Benefits Plan allocated $ 60 billion in loans or investments for low- and moderate-income borrowers between 2020 and 2022, according to bank spokesperson Vince Zito.
âIn 2020, we have pledged $ 78 million to move DCI forward, including $ 40 million to launch CornerSquare Community Capital, funding various small businesses focused on African Americans and women; $ 20 million in support of HBCUs; $ 12.5 million to empower our communities; and $ 5.5 million in social justice grants, âhe added.
Zito noted that Truist has been recognized for its various hiring and lending practices by Forbes, Equal Opportunity magazine and US Black Chambers. He added, âWe received a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, building on the strong heritage of our heritage organizations.
The Business Journal hosted a roundtable with major employers in the region on how they are also approaching diversity, inclusion and equity in their organizations. To learn more about this conversation, pick up a copy of June WilmingtonBiz magazine. where to go to wilmingtonbizmagazine.com.