5 Minutes with Jimmie Walton Paschall
From nonprofits to start-ups to large corporations, Jimmie Walton Paschall has been a key leader in areas such as external affairs, human resources, corporate community outreach, and fundraising. Working in organizations like XO Communications, Volunteers of America, and Marriott, she has gained a critical understanding of how “differences” can help organizations be successful.
Diversity Woman reached Paschall at Wells Fargo, where she just had signed on as executive vice president of enterprise diversity and inclusion.
DW: Why is diversity important in the workplace?
Jimmie Walton Paschall: It’s a business imperative. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, businesses that want to compete effectively in the marketplace—even if just in the United States—must reflect the global marketplace. Questions of culture, ethnicity, race, gender, and sexual orientation and many other issues influence that marketplace. You need varied voices in your workforce so you know how to appeal to a variety of customers.
DW: How does Wells Fargo support a diverse customer base?
JP: We tailor our products and services to address the unique needs of people from different backgrounds. For example, we provide language translation in many of our banking stores. And through our philanthropic efforts, we invested $213.5 million in 2011 to serve the communities where our customers live, work, and do business. People in such communities want to do business with us because they feel good about what we’re doing.
DW: How does the company promote inclusion in-house?
JP: We have an enterprise diversity council, chaired by our CEO, that sets strategy and engages leaders across the business
to advance this agenda. We also have diversity councils in many of our 80-plus business lines. Then we have robust team member networks that give people from different backgrounds the opportunity to come together, mentor, share ideas, network, volunteer, and provide valuable insight to the business. We also partner with many organizations—like Teach for America, the National Urban League, and the National Council of La Raza—to advance a common agenda. Many hearts and minds in the company are engaged in this work.
DW: Why is diversity an appealing career path for women?
JP: It’s an exciting arena when senior leadership understands it and sponsors it, because its tentacles reach into every area of the business. That means you can have great impact across the entire enterprise.
DW: What advice would you give a budding diversity officer?
JP: Take time to understand the business you’re in, so you can integrate the work into stated business goals and priorities. Make sure you have a senior-level executive sponsor for the work and have advocates at all levels across the company. And constantly ask for help and feedback. It’s important to know how you’re being received.