Lenders need to stop ‘checking boxes’ for DEI to flourish


Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts at financial institutions need to go beyond a checkmark on a list of to-dos to become part of a lender’s DNA.

At $1.94 trillion Wells Fargo, “from leadership, I think we have the commitment, but I think we all are, admittedly, still in that check-the-box phase,” Nathan Bricklin, head of workplace experience at the bank, said during a recent panel discussion at the 2022 FinovateSpring conference. “For culture to really be successful, we’ve got to get out of that.”

Still, the financial services industry is “being productive” on DEI initiatives, Bricklin said.

“We have a lot of employee resource networks, but they’re mainly social, it’s educational. We really need to embed those networks into how we get business done,” he said. “We ought to have a rotating advisory group made up of people from those networks who influence our business strategy in our roadmaps for implementation.”

Wells Fargo has implemented an advisory committee that helps Bricklin “think about what I’m going to do next in the workplace,” he said.

Lenders can add to the legitimacy of employee resource groups (ERG) by making those positions paid, Malia Lazu, chief executive at consultancy firm The Lazu Group, said during the panel.

“Some of the best practices around ERGs is that they’re paid positions, so it’s not people doing things off the side of their desk,” Lazu said.

“It goes to show that we don’t actually believe that diversity is profitable,” she said, citing studies from consultancy firms McKinsey and Deloitte. “Diverse teams are … more profitable, they’re more likely to enter a new market successfully. It makes a lot of sense for a lot of other bottom lines at the bank, not just talent attraction, not just talent retention.”

Editor’s Note: This piece previously appeared on Bank Automation New’s sister site, Auto Finance News.

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