Creating Safe Spaces for All

5 Minutes with Wendy E. John

Diversity Woman: How have the various leadership positions you’ve held with Fidelity impacted your perspective as a diversity leader?

Wendy E. John: I’ve been in a number of different roles and understand how we approach work, how we approach customers, and how we value our associates. What that has allowed me to see is how having diversity in groups—regardless of the work that you are doing—actually brings value to the work. Some of the teams that had the most diverse people accomplished great things.

DW: What is Fidelity doing to advance underrepresented talent in the company?

WEJ: Women and people from underrepresented groups often don’t get the same level of formal or informal mentoring, sponsorship, and coaching. The Fidelity LIFT [Leveraging and Inspiring Fidelity Talent] is a sponsorship program that was created specifically with underrepresented leaders in mind, to give them visibility, exposure, and advocacy. Members of our senior leadership team are the sponsors. Then we identify the protégés who participate in the program.

Aspire is our Black and Latinx affinity group. The Aspire to Lead program is a tandem learning program in which the associate and their manager go through a curriculum at the same time. We felt that it’s not enough for the manager to say, “Oh, I’m sending my associate to get training,” but rather, “As a manager, I’m going to go through training as well.”

DW: Fidelity was named to Forbes’s 2021 Best Employers for Diversity list. Why?

WEJ: We have a very active and engaged associate base, with the 10 affinity groups as a core component of that. For example, during the pandemic we reacted to care-giver needs because we have an affinity group that’s focused on caregivers. Fidelity plays an important role in the financial services industry, and we want to create positive change. That starts with our workforce, the customers we serve, and the communities that we live in.

DW: What are some strategies Fidelity is implementing to create an inclusive environment?

WEJ: We have a senior D&I advisory team, which is made up of leaders from across business units.

We launched inclusive language efforts within our company because we recognized that there may be business language we’re using that is rooted in terms that are exclusionary. For example, terms like “master code” and “slave code” and “blacklist” and “white list.” We’ve provided alternatives to our associates.

We developed a learning curriculum on things like conscious inclusion, which is our unconscious-bias training, and also on appreciating cultural differences because we are a global firm.

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