Michele Meyer-Shipp, Prudential Financial’s newly appointed chief diversity officer, has every reason to be proud of the company she works for.
For the 12th year in a row, Prudential has earned top honors for diversity practices, particularly for its commitment to programs and practices that support the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees (LGBT), and the company has earned the highest score on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index.
“Prudential values having a diverse workforce not only because it enriches our company, but also because it builds our company’s future,” Meyer-Shipp says. “If you look at the changing demographics in our society, it is very clear that the majority will soon be the minority, so if we want to succeed as a company, we need to represent every community, serve every community and be able to market our products to every community.”
Enabling that means placing a great emphasis on education and awareness, both in-house as well as externally. Prudential has been focused on both these angles for many years now, and the company’s commitment to raising awareness on different communities both within its workforce and in society-at-large means that it is ahead of the curve and a thought leader in an area that is just going to gain in importance going forward, Meyer-Shipp says.
The hallmark of the education/awareness process that’s part of the Prudential culture is the involvement of its employee resource groups, which are basically mini communities representing all kinds of different minorities. These six groups play an important role in furthering the efforts of the company to create a diverse workforce and in increasing the knowledge and appreciation of diversity in-house.
But more importantly, they help Prudential feel the pulse of the group they’re part of in the broader world, Meyer-Shipp says, and they can help the company get a sense of what a particular group needs by way of outreach and service.
The Employee Association of Gay Men, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders (EAGLES), for example--one of Prudential’s oldest employee resource groups--played a key role in Prudential’s recently released LGBT Financial Experience Study.
“Groups like EAGLES help us put these studies together because we can ask whether the questions we include make sense, whether they resonate with the group in question or whether we should be asking different questions,” Meyer-Shipp says. “We get a sense from our employee resource groups on where we should target our surveys and how best to construct them.”