Nearly 60 years ago, TIAA-CREF appointed its first African American board director; it was the first Fortune 500 company to hire an African American CEO; and it named its first female board director in 1940. The company’s board and executive management team continue to advance diversity today.
“Diversity and inclusion are a big part of who we are as an organization and who we’ve always been,” said Roger W. Ferguson, President and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s not just a nice to have. It’s a must. A diverse workforce helps us understand and address the needs of our customers. It brings a range of experiences and viewpoints, which leads to more innovative thinking and better problem-solving.”
Diverse perspectives are central to the mission and values of TIAA-CREF, which serves those who serve others. The organization helps provide lifelong financial security for millions of people — primarily those in the academic, cultural, governmental, medical and research fields — blending the heritage and heart of a non-profit with the high performance of a world-class financial services organization.
As Chief Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Officer, I ensure our commitment is steadfast and continually evolves to a changing world. I meet with the Human Resources Committee of our Board of Directors at least twice a year to review D&I strategies and initiatives and I also have similar meetings among our executive management team occur on a quarterly basis.
This connection to leadership enables integration of D&I programs into our long-term business strategy, built around three pillars: workplace, workforce and marketplace.
First, we deliver “moments that matter” for employees and optimize their diverse backgrounds by creating an inclusive environment where they can bring their full and best selves to work. Second, we embed our D&I philosophy into succession planning, talent acquisition and talent development to ensure that our workforce reflects the broad spectrum of our client base. And third, we underscore our philosophy through key collaborations, monitoring supplier engagements and maintaining strong D&I compliance adherence. (Employees take pride in the recognition of our efforts, including awards and recognitions such as DiversityInc Top 50, Working Mothers 100 Best Companies, Human Rights Campaign – Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality, and Latina Style Top 50.)
This summer, the organization plans to begin “Journey to Inclusion,” a multi-year program to educate and engage all employees through trainings and guest speakers. And, we recently launched a quarterly video series (called “IN,” based on key company objectives: Inform, Include and Innovate) featuring employees sharing what D&I means to them.
TIAA-CREF also supports seven Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – for affiliations such as African American and Caribbean, Asian American, Latino/Hispanic, LGBT, Military/Veterans, Women and Young Professionals – that drive employee engagement and value to the business.
We are extremely proud of the strides we’ve made in building a diverse workforce. But we do not take our distinction for granted. We have worked hard for it and it’s always a work in progress – ever committed to carrying on our leading tradition and continuing a great legacy.