Ali Wolpert, DTCC Executive Director, Global Policy
The financial industry has recognized the importance of diversity in order to ensure a successful and sustainable future. But what are some of the best practices the industry should employ to achieve this goal across all levels of an organization?
I joined a group of experts at the FIA Expo in Chicago recently to answer that question during the “Diversity in Derivatives” panel. Joining me in the discussion was Betty Liu, Chief Experience Officer, Intercontinental Exchange & Executive Vice Chairman, NYSE Group; Mariam Rafi, Managing Director, North American Head of OTC Clearing, Citi; and Nancy Stern, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel, Allston Holdings.
We explored four key drivers of a successful diversity program.
Formal Sponsorship Program
The panel came to consensus on the fact that sponsorship programs can be extremely impactful in retaining diverse talent in an organization. Sponsorship, in this sense, refers to pairing a non-officer-level employee with a senior executive/officer-level mentor outside of the non-officer’s function or department. This gives the sponsor a chance to learn about the sponsored – their strengths, their career goals – so they can advocate for that more junior colleague and help that individual be considered for opportunities and projects outside their traditional scope, in order to learn new skills or demonstrate existing capabilities. The sponsor also serves as an advocate “in the room” when discussions about advancement are occurring at senior levels of the organization.
Create Diverse Pipelines
Much of the current talk about diversity is about senior executive and Board positions, which are extremely important components for fostering diversity in our industry. It is also important, however, to hire more-junior individuals and bring them up the ranks through the organization – as well as establishing diverse-talent recruiting pipelines from various sources. Working to have diverse talent already at the firm helps to ensure the long-term success and viability of these pipelines, as well. To truly “move the needle” and ensure your firm’s workforce is a diverse one, the creation of diversity pipelines is essential.
It’s More Than Gender
When an organization begins to focus on diversity efforts, the first group of people it tends to think of is women: usually, they’ll discuss the need for more women on the Management Team or Board of Directors. We need to expand this conversation, however, to include other underrepresented groups, including different ethnicities and sexual orientations. Revamping the same programs that focus on women can help you expand beyond one specific group – which is what true diversity is all about.
Pay it Forward
We are all busy with our day-to-day roles and our lives outside the office. But we need to think beyond our current programs and develop new ideas to enhance diversity across the industry. It’s more than just showing up to a mentoring meeting. Challenge yourself to stay engaged and make time for it. Both you and your company will be all the more successful for your engagement.