roger W. fer­gu­son, Jr.

CEO, TIAA

Forbes - - PROMOTION -

Skip Spriggs: af­ter our many years to­gether at tiaa, it’s my plea­sure to talk with you now from my post as elC pres­i­dent and CeO. it’s not sur­pris­ing that a mis­sion-driven com­pany like tiaa would value di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion, but how would you de­scribe how your life ex­pe­ri­ence formed your com­mit­ment?

roger Fer­gu­son: I started out in a seg­re­gated school in Washington, D.C., and, as a child of Brown v. Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, I moved into a much more in­te­grated en­vi­ron­ment. As a ben­e­fi­ciary of Amer­ica’s awak­en­ing to the need to be a more di­verse and in­clu­sive cul­ture, I’ve car­ried that key value I cher­ish in my coun­try as I move for­ward through my own life’s jour­ney.

SS: How do you de­scribe the nu­ances between di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion?

rF: For us, di­ver­sity is be­ing in­vited to the dance, and in­clu­sion is ac­tu­ally be­ing in­vited to dance. So in­clu­sion is bring­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion to the table and then mak­ing that table a busi­ness prob­lem-solv­ing table.

That strat­egy con­tin­ues as part of the DNA of TIAA, go­ing back to the 1940s when we ap­pointed the first woman to our Board, the 1950s when the first African Amer­i­can man joined the Board, and then, in 1987, when Clifton Whar­ton be­came the first CEO of a For­tune 500 com­pany. My ex­ec­u­tive team and all our em­ploy­ees con­tinue to ex­pand on that legacy.

SS: What are some of the sig­na­ture ways you en­gage your em­ploy­ees in your vi­sion of in­clu­sion?

rF: A num­ber of things stand out. The multi-year strat­egy we call “Jour­ney to In­clu­sion” be­gan as a train­ing pro­gram at the top of the house fo­cused on in­clu­sive lead­er­ship, and we have ex­tended it out across the vast ma­jor­ity of our em­ploy­ees. Our em­ployee re­source groups (ERGs) are one of our great­est as­sets for fos­ter­ing in­clu­sion, and they have pro­duced sev­eral ef­fec­tive com­pa­ny­wide ini­tia­tives. For ex­am­ple, our in­cu­ba­tor ini­tia­tive uses the di­verse in­sights of ERG lead­ers and other em­ploy­ees to give us feed­back on client ser­vice, so­cial me­dia and other growth con­cepts. We iden­tify and ad­dress dif­fer­en­tial im­pacts on mo­bil­ity and turnover with quar­terly met­rics re­views. Our 160-strong in­tern pro­gram at­tracts new and broadly di­verse tal­ent. The feed­back from our an­nual cul­ture sur­veys, where we get more than 90% par­tic­i­pa­tion, drives our dis­cus­sions about cul­ture, from our Board meet­ings to our quar­terly em­ployee town halls.

Per­haps most im­por­tant, we are in­ten­tional around at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing di­verse tal­ent and build­ing an in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment where ev­ery­one can con­trib­ute.

“di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion were deeply in­grained at tiaa long be­fore that be­came com­mon. We don’t want to let down our pre­de­ces­sors.”

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