Diversity Woman Magazine

SPR 2019

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

Issue link: https://diversitywoman.epubxp.com/i/1096324

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Upfront > d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m S p r i n g 2 0 1 9 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N 9 A financial advisor with investment firm Edward Jones, Emily Pitts noticed that the in- dustry had few people of color. at led her to wonder what Edward Jones could do better to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. e question sparked a new passion and, eventually, a career change. "I had a desire to help others and bring others into the firm," she says. After overseeing the marketing of credit cards and mortgage services, Pitts shifted gears and today is the leader of Edward Jones' inclusion and diversity efforts. She spoke with Diversity Woman about her passion for inclusion. Diversity Woman: Pricewaterhouse- Coopers CEO Tim Ryan challenged CEOs to sign a pledge to open dia- logue around D&I. You pushed for Edward Jones to sign the pledge. Why? Emily Pitts: Dialogue helps to remove barriers and misunderstandings. It also helps individuals realize that we are probably more similar than we are differ- ent. Signing the pledge created a forum and a catalyst to have a real dialogue to address challenges. It has also enabled our entire workforce to have their voices heard because ultimately people want to be part of the solution. More than a thousand of our home office associ- ates and leaders have been part of these dialogues. DW: You created a cross-cultural devel- opment program for financial advisors. How has it contributed to Edward Jones' D&I initiatives? EP: As a financial advisor of color, I realized that I had encountered some nuances when building my business. is industry has historically been domi- nated by white males, and some clients aren't accustomed to seeing diversity in this space. I wanted a tool to sup- port financial advisors who are people of color in building their businesses cross-culturally. It's a two-day program, and it has helped to improve the success rate as well as the retention of financial advisors who are people of color. With diverse financial advisors, we could also help more clients with their finances and better serve them because we have a workforce that's representative of a cross-cultural market. DW: Edward Jones received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2018 Cor- porate Equality Index. What are some of the reasons for this? EP: Edward Jones welcomes and ap- preciates all of our clients and all of our associates, so we've done things such as ensure that our medical benefits are inclusive, and that we have a business resource group for our home office as- sociates that is supportive of the LGBT+ community. We also have inclusive marketing materials, we use inclusive language, and we have a nondiscrimina- tion policy. DW: You developed Edward Jones' first Women's Leadership Forum and Mi- nority Leadership Program. What are some of the biggest challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining women in leadership positions? EP: Most leaders were advocated for by someone, and sometimes women don't have those natural relationships with the right people to advocate for them. We need to have better sponsorship and mentorship opportunities. We as women also need not to doubt ourselves and our ability to be in leadership, and to go for it. DW: What's one of the biggest chal- lenges diversity leaders face? EP: Creating a sense of urgency. Most organizations understand now that diversity is a business imperative, but many people think we have plenty of time to focus on it. However, you have to make it a priority so that you're not try- ing to play catch-up. You have to nurture relationships and put strategies in place. 5 Minutes with Emily Pitts Upfront written by Tamara E. Holmes Building Bridges Through Diversity

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