Many companies are focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as employees return to a new normal post-pandemic. Najma Pilgrim—Vice-president, Human Resources and Inclusion, at Fidelity Investments Canada— shares Fidelity’s journey.
What are the prevailing barriers to diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
There are many obstacles that can be overcome. Don’t look at DEI as only a moral or ethical responsibility. It is also a business imperative. An unsupportive workplace culture and a lack of diversity at all levels within an organization can hinder the development of an inclusive workplace and, more broadly, the organization’s success. Unconscious bias can manifest in many forms, which can lead to unfair exclusion of certain groups. To overcome these barriers, organizations need to educate and build awareness of the impacts of unconscious bias.
What are some advantages for companies that are committed to inclusive success?
There are many, such as higher employee engagement and morale, job satisfaction, productivity, and creativity, as well as improved decision-making and problem-solving, and lower turnover. It’s based on employees feeling like they have a voice that is heard and respected in the workplace.
What are common misconceptions?
That diversity is just about gender and race. It’s so much broader than that. It’s about both visible and invisible human characteristics. Also, that DEI is the responsibility of only HR or leadership. Every employee has a responsibility to make sure the organization has an inclusive culture.
How can organizations demonstrate their ongoing commitment to DEI in their hiring?
Start with a strategy. Ask the question Why is a diverse workforce important to the success of our organization? Train your recruiting team to understand the bias in hiring and the importance of using panels for interviews, and how to look for diverse talent. Focus on all levels in the organization, not just entry-level positions, when recruiting. Promote your organization’s culture, programs, and visions so you’re able to attract diverse candidates. Track your progress to measure the efforts being made, and communicate the progress to your employees. Lastly, encourage employees to refer other professionals they may know from their communities.
“ We embrace diversity by cultivating our unique strengths and ideas to drive innovation, excellence, and success. ”
Can you describe Fidelity Investments Canada’s approach to DEI?
We are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace that promotes collaboration and partnership. We embrace diversity by cultivating our unique strengths and ideas to drive innovation, excellence, and success. We have an organizational strategy focused on DEI and accessibility that has been shared with our employees to promote accountability and create direction for our DEI program.
Can you describe a specific initiative Fidelity has implemented?
We introduced a prayer and meditation room where employees can pray, meditate, or reflect, regardless of faith. To accommodate the different needs of our employees, we have barrier-free workspaces, desks with adjustable heights, and access buttons with longer, more accessible panels. Our kitchen has been renovated to include more room, and microwaves are placed at lower heights. Gender-neutral washrooms have been installed, as well as nursing rooms for working mothers.
We also have a quarterly DEI newsletter, which is a central repository for updates on our DEI efforts. It promotes ERG [employee resource group] events and helps build awareness on important topics.
How do you measure the success of your DEI efforts?
We monitor various areas of business impact through a DEI lens, especially as they relate to employee engagement and well-being. We also have our diversity data collection, which is a voluntary program created to protect employee information while measuring and tracking diversity. Our approach guarantees anonymity, and we report at an aggregate level. We’ve spent the last year collecting the data, and now we’re using that data to gain baseline insights.
How are employees encouraged to promote inclusivity?
The ERGs support the professional growth and development of members and allies through networking, education, mentoring, and career development activities. We currently have five ERGs: Pride (supports LGBTQ2+ employees); Women’s Leadership Group (supports women); Aspire (supports Latino and Black employees); Enable (promotes awareness of varying abilities); and Elevate (supports Asian employees). Each has an executive sponsor who provides leadership and support.
How does Fidelity support the development and advancement of diverse employees?
Beyond our suite of online and in-person training opportunities, we also have a mentorship program. There are many ways a mentor can aid in an employee’s development, such as matching a new or less experienced person with a more experienced colleague to learn about the culture, develop skills, or create a network. We also encourage reverse mentorship, which brings different employee generations together to explore new ways of thinking. Lastly, we encourage situational or special project mentorship, which can have a specific purpose.