DTCC Connection

Jun 05, 2017 • DTCC Connection

From Awareness to Action: DTCC’s Bodson Addresses Religious Diversity

By Madiha Arsalan

DTCC’s Partnership with Tanenbaum

In 2014, DTCC was named an inaugural Corporate Leader for Inclusion by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, a secular, non-sectarian non-profit organization that promotes mutual respect with practical programs that bridge religious difference and combat prejudice in schools, workplaces, health care settings and areas of armed conflict. As the global leader tackling religious bias in the workplace, Tanenbaum designs trainings and educational resources to change the way people treat one another and to celebrate the richness of diversity in the U.S.

DTCC also co-sponsored the Tanenbaum Religious Diversity Leadership Summit in both 2016 and 2017, a testament to the firm’s commitment to promoting religious diversity and understanding in the workplace. DTCC’s relationship with Tanenbaum started in 2013, resulting in the development of its religious accommodation policy.

Mark Fowler, Deputy CEO, Tanenbaum, commended DTCC on its efforts.

“As a Corporate Leader for Inclusion and co-sponsor for the Religious Diversity Leadership Summit, DTCC has demonstrated, time and again, its dedication to making the workplace more inclusive for employees of all—or no—religious beliefs,” Fowler said. “Tanenbaum would like to recognize and thank DTCC for partnering with us on our efforts to foster inclusion, raise awareness and drive global change toward religious inclusion.”

DTCC President and CEO Michael Bodson addressed the importance of supporting religious diversity and inclusion in the workplace in the keynote address at the 2017 Tanenbaum Religious Diversity Leadership Summit.

Hosted by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, a New York-based, secular non-profit organization that promotes mutual respect for religious differences to combat prejudice, the conference was held on Tuesday, May 23. DTCC was a co-sponsor of the event.

Addressing a diverse audience from different industries, Bodson expressed his passion for diversity and inclusion (D&I). He said that D&I is core to DTCC’s ability to support the financial services industry.

“For us, diversity and inclusion is not theoretical,” Bodson said. “It’s essential to our ability to execute on behalf of our clients and the global industry.”

The Evolution of the Workplace Landscape

Casting an eye toward the current workplace landscape, Bodson noted that while the environment has evolved dramatically over the past few decades in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation, religious D&I can be a trickier issue.

“For a very long time, the prevailing culture was to not talk about politics or religion,” Bodson said. “I believe this is changing, and has been for some time, both because of demographic shifts, but also because of a generational and cultural rotation that is occurring.”

As companies continue to evolve, they look at employees in an increasingly holistic manner, showing greater acceptance of displays, discussion and the practice of religion in the workplace. However, with the changing political winds and rise of populism, there is still work that needs to be done.

“There are many companies that avoid the topic altogether out of concern of alienating their customers or employees,” Bodson said. “This is the wrong way to approach the issue. Embracing the religious diversity of your employees is about respect and dignity—not the endorsement of any particular set of beliefs but a recognition that employees of differing beliefs can work together and thrive alongside each other.”

D&I as a Business Necessity and the Importance of Religious Diversity

In today’s global business environment, D&I efforts have become critical to employee engagement and business success. Bodson presented the following statistics:

  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians;
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians;
  • Every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team increase earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) nearly 1% in the US and 3.5% in the UK.

Nadine Augusta, Executive Director, Global Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), was also in attendance and co-chaired Tanenbaum’s 25th Anniversary Gala, which took place after the Summit. She introduced Mike Bodson, President and CEO, to the audience and commented on DTCC’s partnership with Tanenbaum.

“Tanenbaum has been an excellent resource for DTCC, providing guidance and helping identify what we were doing well, and where we had opportunities for improvement,” Augusta said. “We plan on further fostering our relationship with them as we continue on our journey toward fully integrating D&I into all aspects of the workplace, enabling all of our employees to contribute to the success of our business.

With shifting demographics and increasing numbers of religiously unaffiliated and non-Christians entering the workforce, religious diversity in the workplace is growing in importance. As a result, religious diversity needs to be an integral part of D&I efforts.

“By bringing religious diversity fully into corporate D&I efforts, companies will be in a better position to more holistically address the needs of all employees,” Bodson said. “As a result, they can help create the type of inclusive and accommodating environment that supports a more engaged workforce.”

Superstorm Sandy: How DTCC Developed its Approach to Religious Diversity

Rewinding to 2012, Bodson explained that DTCC’s journey toward prioritizing religious diversity started with Superstorm Sandy, when the company headquarters at 55 Water Street were flooded and employees were displaced for several months.

It came to light that the all-glass walls at the new space in Jersey City would not be suitable for employees who needed a private space for religious purposes. Recognizing the employee need, DTCC implemented contemplation rooms, which are designated spaces for reflection, meditation, religious and non-religious practices.

“This work paid off when we were designing our office in Chennai, India,” Bodson said. “We included contemplation rooms in the early design of the site – an accommodation that was very well received by our employees there.”

He noted that while this was not a complex step, it “clearly sent a message of accommodation and inclusion.”

Touching on DTCC’s relationship with Tanenbaum, Bodson credited the non-profit organization for helping DTCC identify further opportunities. This has resulted in developing DTCC’s religious accommodation policy, which outlines processes for requesting religious accommodations, scheduling around religious observances and accommodating dietary needs.

Recognizing that DTCC’s journey is still a work in progress, he expressed his commitment to fostering a religiously inclusive environment.

“As a CEO, ensuring that employees are fully engaged is a high priority, and it is why religious diversity is important at DTCC. As the chairman of the DTCC D&I Council, I will make sure we continue to evolve our culture of inclusion, inclusive of religious diversity.”

To read the full text of remarks by Bodson, click here.

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