TIAA – The Journey to Conscious Inclusion: Breaking Barriers through Internal Career Mobility

by Savoy Staff

By Corie Pauling, SVP, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, TIAA

The unprecedented events of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 present a necessary and overdue look at racial justice and equality, particularly the need for more authentic engagement, connection and perspectives on diversity and inclusion.

TIAA has made inclusion, diversity and equity a cornerstone of our own culture. We believe a diverse and inclusive workforce is one of our greatest strengths, and a key enabler in serving our customers and creating a workplace environment where every employee feels welcomed.

One of the most impactful changes a company can enact for its employees is to make long-term, focused commitments for internal career mobility, and to create a diverse pipeline from top to bottom of leaders of color. The path and grooming to the C-suite for people of color needs to start brewing and touching employees early in their career. This helps with mobility, sustainability and ultimately the retention of diverse colleagues.

TIAA’s efforts toward conscious inclusion consist of ongoing critical examination of core business and management practices for potential bias and inequity. This includes enhancing our focus on performance rating equity, pay equity, mentorship-to-sponsorship initiatives and associate mobility opportunities through innovative, real-time improvements to key processes. We are also focused on the experience of less-visible, underrepresented minority groups to identify opportunities to better support them.

Our performance rating equity focus is a critical foundation for advancing inclusive internal mobility. In addition, our talent strategy evolution accelerated in response to 2020’s unexpected external forces. TIAA’s Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) team laid the groundwork to develop the future workforce by focusing on key areas: further refinement of critical capabilities required for our workforce; increasing development through enhanced mobility; and workforce diversity in concert with our “Be the Change” initiative, a social justice platform to challenge systemic racism through program, educational resources and communications focused on supporting our associates and our clients.

To further support employees in building new skills and moving into new roles, the I&D team remains committed to developing strong, diverse leaders through our LEAP program, which helps managers build their leadership skills. Deploying “LEAP Virtually Together”, interactive workshops hone in on capabilities required to lead in a hybrid remote work environment. Learning to lead inclusively is one of the cornerstones of these programs for which we hold leaders accountable through our performance management practices, and also recognition practices such as our annual Inclusive Leader Awards. These practices set up opportunities to further develop a diverse pipeline of talent.

In addition to developing strong leaders of color, participation in employee or business resource groups (ERG/BRGs) connects leaders and employees at all levels in more inclusive and intimate ways, opening the doors to conscious inclusive conversations and opportunities.

Even with an evolving workforce, diversity remains stable at TIAA. Our focused efforts resulted in a 19% increase in internal hire rate, with under-represented minorities and females being presented to hiring managers at a rate of 54% and 72%, respectively. Eighty-five percent of our interview panels reflected racial, ethnic, and/or gender diversity. While we are proud of our achievements, there is still more work to be done.

Though we have begun identifying and addressing existing gaps within corporate America for professionals of color, practices that recognize their humanity through conscious inclusion is the catalyst to filling those gaps. Mentorship and sponsorship is a key driver to career mobility. It’s a call to action for leaders, allies and underrepresented groups to embrace and yield to future generations to truly create a diverse and inclusive workforce.



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