Map Your D&I Journey

by Edward Cates

“We Are One Fannie Mae” is one of our core values and a value we try to live up to every day. We approach all of our business activities, D&I initiatives, events and programs with this core value in mind. It is how we collaborate together and how we hope to continue to embed diversity and inclusion into every aspect of our work at Fannie Mae.

As the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for one of the leading housing finance companies, I’m acutely aware that diversity and inclusion is not a destination — it’s a journey. A journey that Fannie Mae began over two decades ago with a commitment from the top by establishing the Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 1992. We were one of a few companies to create a dedicated office to focus solely on building an inclusive culture. Our long journey has been met with many twists and turns, successes and lessons learned along the way.

Today, we find ourselves leading the market as one of the most diverse organizations in the financial services space. We have earned several accolades and recognitions, such as “50 Best Companies for Diversity” by Black Enterprise; “America’s Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities” by Diversity Business; and “50 Out Front Best Places for Women and Diverse Managers to Work” by Diversity MBA Magazine. We have also received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for the fourth consecutive year.

Leading the way

I could not pull off this great work alone. Our diversity and inclusion roadmap, or strategy, is a top-down, bottom-up approach. We have leadership vision and commitment at the top and grassroots engagement from our employee base. Starting from the top, our CEO Tim Mayopoulos signed the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion agreement last summer, placing Fannie Mae among more than 300 of the world’s leading companies committed to increasing and advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

This commitment is further driven forward across the enterprise by our 12 Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). The ERGs round out our diversity and inclusion efforts and work tirelessly to coordinate events and content that help build an internal culture that is both robust and enriching. They are on the frontline of great work. Approximately 41% of our employee population are members of one or more ERG, including more than half of our leadership population. It seems the momentum is building!

Say what needs to be said

Every day, we have the privilege of working with a diverse workforce. This gives us the opportunity to engage different working styles, gain deeper and more innovative ideas, and learn to appreciate different cultures. This ultimately helps us better serve our diverse customers in every market, every day. However, we realize that to successfully leverage this rich diversity, we must ensure that we are culturally competent and aware. To do this, we recently launched a new initiative called Let’s Talk About it: Courageous Conversations.

These conversations allow us to increase our cultural competency and awareness across the enterprise by providing an open and safe space to address difficult issues, hear diverse perspectives and say what needs to be said. My first Courageous Conversation followed a viewing of Mellody Hobson’s Ted Talk “Color Blind or Color Brave” and packed the house. I have since hosted two more very engaging and successful sessions.

Checking our GPS

As we continue to embark on this wonderful journey, we check our GPS to ensure that our roadmap aligns with the vision and strategy of the organization. At Fannie Mae, our commitment to diversity and inclusion is not only our way of doing business, but also our way of attracting and retaining top talent. We know that our employee satisfaction and engagement correlates to our inclusive culture. Innovation, creativity and problem-solving are enhanced by our diversity, and we are using our talent to innovate and create products that serve diverse markets. This is how we are working to become America’s most-valued housing partner.

Contributor: Tujuanna B. Williams Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Fannie Mae

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