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Keisha Bell: Dialogue is Necessary to Promote Understanding and Change

Aug 13, 2021

Keisha Bell: Dialogue is Necessary to Promote Understanding and Change

In an interview with DiversityQ, DTCC’s Keisha Bell, DTCC Managing Director and Head of Diverse Talent Management and Advancement, discusses attitudes towards race in the workplace since the death of George Floyd.

What initiatives has your organization put in place since George Floyd’s death?

DTCC’s culture is formed by its people, its core values and a fundamental belief in inclusion – it is who we are and how we operate together, as a unified organization, to support our clients and the industry.

We believe that dialogue is necessary to promote understanding and change. Last year, we began DTCC’s Perspectives Program, an initiative that was launched following the murder of George Floyd to increase dialogue around race in the workplace. This initiative provided employees with a platform to share their personal stories and perspectives and engage the entire organization in conversations about race. The program included a cross-section of Black and Brown men from all levels of the organization who shared their lived experiences of negative interactions with the police and Black and Brown women who spoke on how they interact with law enforcement and how they talk with their children about racism and interacting with law enforcement.

In a similar vein and response to the rise in anti-Asian violence in America, we recently worked with Ascend to facilitate conversations with Asian-American employees in our company. We believe that providing opportunities for employees to voice their concerns is incredibly important and that corporate America has a necessary role to play in improving race relations, promoting equality and fostering understanding.

Is talking about race still taboo?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen increased conversations about race and racism in the workplace. 2020 was a turning point for corporate America: with the murder of George Floyd, issues around race and systemic racism were brought to the top of the agenda by mainstream media and corporate board rooms. Coupled with the pandemic and the shift to work-from-home, the question of what an inclusive workplace culture looks like has been at the forefront of business leaders’ minds around the world. At DTCC, we’ve actively encouraged conversations about race because we believe that real change starts with honest dialogue. We have engaged with black and brown employees within our organization through initiatives such as our Perspectives Program.

Has progress been made to level the playing field for minorities at DTCC?

At DTCC, we continuously look at data to measure our organization’s progress on diversity and inclusion. We look at a number of metrics, including attrition among different demographics and what our talent pipeline looks like. While we continue to push for a more level playing field across the organization, one of the things that I’m proud of is that DTCC is among the few financial services companies that have representation of African American and Asian American employees in line with US census data. DTCC has made great progress in hiring diverse talent and providing opportunities to upskill and move diverse talent through the organization. Through our 18-month long “Advancing Women Leaders” development program, we led a cohort of 16 women at the director level to build their leadership and individual skills, helping them progress through the company. This program saw immediate results: 6 of the 16 women were promoted, with the remaining participants poised and prepared for advancement opportunities.

What more needs to be done?

This article first appeared in DiversityQ on August 4, 2021.

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