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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Edie Hunt, Chief Diversity Officer and Advising Director, Goldman Sachs


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By Melissa J. Anderson

Edie Hunt, Chief Diversity Officer and Advising Director at Goldman Sachs, has spent the majority of her career at the forefront of corporate diversity, initiating powerful ideas like Goldman Sachs’ Returnship, its women’s network, and its practice of awarding fellowships to diverse rising stars. “I say this with rose colored glasses,” Hunt began, “but I wait for the day when we don’t need an Office of Diversity and Inclusion – because everyone gets it.”

She predicts that day when diversity offices are no longer needed is still 15 to 20 years in the future, but says she’s pleased with the current progress of the field.

“I retired as a partner at the end of last year – I continue as an advising director, which is an arrangement many retired partners have here. I’m responsible for carrying forward the culture of the firm, and I’m still the Chief Diversity Officer.”

Hunt says she thinks the next phase of D&I is about bringing everyone into the diversity discussion.

“I think the next idea in diversity will be the concept of diversity being for everyone,” she said. “We had a watershed moment in 2010 during our Americas Diversity Week, which was that diversity is not about having events for women, Asians, LGBT employees, or any specific group. But that the events were for everyone in the firm to learn about the unique attributes of everyone else in the firm.”

She explained, “We have celebrations and events throughout the year. Whereas, five years ago at a women’s history month event, we’d have 95% women, now I’d say there’s at least 30% men. That is really where we want diversity to be heading.”

Hunt is also pleased to see an increase in the number of line managers taking the issue seriously. “I think the layer of people who really don’t live and breathe diversity initiatives is becoming thinner and thinner.”

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Deb Wheelock, Partner, Global Leader of Talent Management & Diversity Center of Excellence, Mercer


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By Melissa J. Anderson

“At Mercer, our primary focus is helping our clients maximize the potential of their human capital,” began Deb Wheelock, Partner and Global Talent Management & Diversity Leader at Mercer. “Unlike other companies, we don’t produce widgets. We market the professional knowledge of our people. They need to be our competitive edge.”

“Thinking back to my tech days, another way I put it is ‘our people are our next killer app,’” explained the former e-learning specialist. “Diversity is becoming an imperative because we have people of different backgrounds with diverse approaches and innovative solutions to bring to our clients.”

She added, “You just don’t get that level of innovation from a homogenous workforce, no matter how bright they might be.”

Wheelock believes diversity is undergoing a generational shift. “We’re seeing a change in what our colleagues are bringing to work in terms of their outlook as well as their biases. That pushes us toward inclusion – from tolerating differences, to appreciating and leveraging those differences.”

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Yvette Vargas, Managing Director, Head of Talent Development & Diversity, UBS Wealth Management


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By Melissa J. Anderson

“My role at UBS is to put in a talent management framework that is totally integrated with – subsumed in – our diversity agenda. I’ve been working to reframe how people think about managing talent, to make sure the right people are in the right jobs at the right time in the context of the business they’re in,” explained Yvette Vargas, Managing Director and Head of Talent Development and Diversity at UBS Wealth Management.

“When I look at financial services, diversity has really been focused on evolving from affirmative action and creating awareness around sensitivity to now understanding the importance of diversity from a values perspective,” she explained. “The challenges is getting people to think about this from a business perspective.”

She added, “If we do this right – set the philosophy, processes, tools – managers can become the best talent managers they can be.”

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Liz Bingham, Managing Partner, People and Talent, UK and Ireland, Ernst & Young


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By Melissa J. Anderson

“In order to attract and retain the best people, we have to make sure that we are looking at talent through a diversity and inclusion lens,” said Liz Bingham, Managing Partner of People and Talent for the UK and Ireland at Ernst & Young. “This is an area I am completely passionate about. As a school leaver (non graduate), a woman, and also an out lesbian, I tick quite a few gender diversity boxes.”

Bingham rose through the ranks at Ernst & Young as a member of the firm’s restructuring business, eventually becoming managing partner of the $150 million practice. Last year, she decided she was ready for a new challenge, and was appointed to the UK firm’s leadership team as Managing Partner for People and Talent. Now she is keenly focused on taking learning and development, diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement to the next level.

“I want to be sure talent in every shape and form is nurtured, to create a more meaningful experience for every individual who works for the firm for however long they stay with us,” she said.

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Maria Castañón Moats, Chief Diversity Officer, PwC


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By Melissa J. Anderson

According to Maria Castañón Moats, Chief Diversity Officer at PwC, simply acknowledging diversity isn’t enough to unlock its benefits – companies must engage with diversity to really experience its value. “I’m getting out there and talking to different people in practice about why it’s important for us to engage with each other when it comes to diversity,” she said.

“Think about behaviors – like inclusion. We need to understand not only how we are similar, but we need to understand how we are different.”

“Taking an interest in that difference and leveraging that makes us better as a team,” she explained. “If we could all behave as advocates for one another, think of how powerful that would be.”

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Pat David, Managing Director and Global Diversity Officer, JP Morgan Chase


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By Melissa J. Anderson

“I’m not interested in diversity as it’s commonly known,” said Pat David, Managing Director and Global Diversity Officer at JPMorgan Chase. “I’m interested in using my life experiences in the context of helping people get to where they want – particularly underrepresented groups.”

She continued, “The way I was raised, my mother said ‘you’ve got to give more than you get.’ And when I look at my career, I’ve had an insatiable appetite to help people. My job enables me to help people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Thought Leaders

Arguments to Engage Leadership in Gender Diversity Work


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Contributed by Curt Rice

Everything we know about improving gender diversity points to one uniquely important success factor. Great programs notwithstanding, brilliant arguments in abundance, the pursuit of enhanced gender equality flourishes or flounders with the interest and investment of an organization’s top leadership.

It could be the CEO of your company, the president of your university, or the director of your institute. Whoever is at the top has to care and has to support action. If we can’t get our top leadership engaged, we probably won’t succeed.

But people who have made it to the top are creative. They might have different ideas about achieving diversity — ideas that sound good, but that probably won’t work. How would that happen? What could we do in that situation?

To get CEOs on board, they need to believe in the cause themselves; they need to believe that gender diversity matters. We must provide the best arguments we can so the people at the top will care.

Thought Leaders

Fixing the “Pyramid Problem:” A New Approach


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Contributed by Caroline Turner, author of Difference Works: Improving Retention, Productivity and Profitability through Inclusion

Women are still not proportionally represented at the upper levels of business. Women represent about half of entry-level employees and lower level management positions. But at each level up the corporate hierarchy, the percentage of women is lower.

According to Catalyst, in 2011 in the Fortune 500 women represented only 14.1% of executive officers, 7.5% of top earners and 3.2% of CEO’s. In law firms in 2010, Catalyst reports, women made up 45% of associates but only 19% of partners. These declining percentages form a pyramid: the “pyramid problem.”

This is more than a problem for women. It is a problem for business. The pyramid problem results in substantial, unnecessary costs for business and it prevents business from realizing the documented upsides of gender diversity. It’s time to shift the focus from how women need to change in order to succeed to how corporate culture can change in order to achieve gender diversity in leadership. That takes framing and talking about the issue differently.

How can women change agents climbing the corporate ladder talk about the pyramid problem and enroll men and leadership in wanting to fix it? I suggest three things:

  1. Present the business case for fixing the pyramid problem
  2. Bring attention to the strengths of both masculine and feminine approaches to work without stereotyping
  3. Find a few male allies who see and will speak up on the issue.

Diversity, Gender, Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Anne Izzillo on Boosting Global Corporate Diversity


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By Melissa J. Anderson (New York City)

Anne Izzillo, President of the Financial Women’s Association, believes sincerely in the power of networking – in fact, she said, that’s how she got involved in the group in the first place. “I lived and worked in London for 14 and a half years and I came back in 1999, basically without a network.”

“Everybody had gone to the four winds in the almost 15 years I was away,” she explained. “And somebody I know, a friend of a friend actually, suggested, because I was bemoaning the fact that I didn’t have a network anymore… that I join the FWA.”

Izzillo explained that networking externally is critical for building individual careers, but she believes it can also improve corporate diversity on a global scale.

Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders: Alison Maitland on the Future of Work


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By Melissa J. Anderson

According to Alison Maitland, co-Author of Future Work: How Businesses Can Adapt and Thrive in the New World of Work, it’s time for companies to adapt to employees’ needs – rather than the other way around. By doing so, she believes, companies can unlock untapped potential and productivity.

She explained, “We need corporate cultures to adapt to the two new realities of workforces and careers. First, that women are nearly half the workforce in most advanced economies. And yet many organizations are still built and designed by and for men of another era. That is no longer suitable for today’s workforce. “

“There is a connection between the way work is done and women’s lack of progress to the top.” Location should be removed from the equation when evaluating work, she continued. “Really, it’s results that should count rather than hours spent in the office.”

Future Work was released in the UK in October and in the US on 8th November, and discusses the urgency with which corporations need to address a changing workforce as the global marketplace becomes more complex. The book is co-written with Peter Thomson, a former HR director and a long-time expert on new ways of working.

She explained, “We both thought the way we work is crazy, and that there are much better ways to be doing it, and change is on the way.”

Maitland and Thomson interviewed over 60 executives and experts around the world and surveyed managers in their research for the book. “The majority of these managers expect there to be a revolution in working practices in the next decade. The book has a driving vision to explain how work can be done better and how people can be more productive, in a way that is good for people, good for companies, and good for the environment,” she said.