Investing in Diversity is an Investment in our Economy and Society as a Whole

Financial industry leaders, regulators and corporate stakeholders play a pivotal role in shaping organizational culture to achieve a more inclusive and effective workforce.

At the SIFMA 2017 Annual Meeting, The Capital Markets Conference, in Washington D.C., the Honorable Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), Member of the House Committee on Financial Services, joined moderator Larry E. Thompson, DTCC Vice Chairman & DTCC Deriv/SERV Chairman of the Board, and a panel of chief executive officers to discuss how the actions and leadership of a firm’s executive team can bring meaningful change.

Opening the session, Congresswoman Beatty was clear about the business imperative of diversity, “It’s not just about race, gender or ethnicity, it’s about diversity of thought.”

Noé Hinojosa, Jr., president and CEO of Estrada Hinojosa & Co., agreed with Congresswoman Beatty on the importance of carrying out diversity by enabling individuals to perform at their best and bring unique perspective, stating where he comes from, “Regardless of race or ethnicity, you need to be prepared to add value.” Mr. Hinojosa said that diverse candidates have the skills and talent needed to succeed, but described the path towards achieving diversity and inclusion as a marathon and what is lacking in recruitment is opportunity.

The Honorable Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) described inclusion as guiding individuals with diverse backgrounds so that they “understand their place in business” and asked the audience, “How do you support inclusion? What kind of changemaker will you be?”

Sharing with the audience how her firm is addressing the challenge of opportunity, Suzanne Shank, chairwoman, CEO and founding partner of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., described internships for young diverse candidates as a crucial platform for gaining exposure and experience in the corporate world. In addition, hiring young people and women for client-facing roles can place them on a career trajectory that can advance them to the management level. The majority of America will be diverse within 30 years, Ms. Shank noted, “if we don’t choose to embrace every part of our society… our economy is not going to thrive.”

“Education is not a barrier to achieving diversity and inclusion. Young people need exposure and opportunity.” – Suzanne Shank, CEO of Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co.

Noting SIFMA’s “history in championing diversity,” Congresswoman Beatty acknowledged the industry’s efforts to work towards diverse representation across all levels. A top priority for SIFMA member firms, panelists emphasized the long-term commitment and strategy required to achieve diversity and inclusion. Rich Daly, CEO of Broadridge Financial Solutions, discussed his firm’s commitment to hiring diverse candidates: “If you do business in a global marketplace, you need to reflect the marketplace [with your talent]. We appointed a Chief Commercial Diversity Officer so Broadridge can better serve its diverse, global marketplace.”

Driving awareness of Broadridge’s Diversity and Inclusion program is the firm’s Inclusiveness Pledge, which recognizes that an environment where everyone’s strengths are valued, and where everyone can perform at their best, is good business and leads to long-term success.

More work needs to be done to advance diversity. Ms. Shank commented that “we must continue to beat the drum in every aspect of business, because it’s really a society issue.” Mr. Daly agreed and recommended using a scorecard to track goals, “As a firm, we make the commitment at the start of each year: how do we move the needle on D&I?”. But having a measurable framework and fostering an inclusive culture is not limited to the private sector. Congresswoman Beatty added that government agencies and regulated entities can also do more to address the supplier diversity requirement of the Dodd-Frank Act, Section 342.

Cheryl Crispen is Executive Vice President, Communications & Marketing, at SIFMA

Joseph Vaughan is Managing Director at SIFMA