Prudential Financial found a non-traditional group to include in its D&I strategy.
By Tamika Cody
Every company has its own definition for the phrase “diversity and inclusion.” Managing talent for maximum productivity goes beyond race, gender, LGBT status, veterans, generational groups and people with disabilities. Cutting edge companies are including personality traits in their D&I strategy.
Prudential Financial for example, which ranks No. 8 on the 2015 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, uses a diversity wheel that enumerates about 50 dimensions of diversity. Prudential’s chief diversity officer, Michele Meyer-Shipp, said the wheel includes everything from family background to religious differences.
During the past year, Prudential’s diversity wheel sparked an interesting conversation that added two new sets of individuals to its diversity pool: introverts and extroverts. “An introvert can appreciate what an extrovert brings to the table and vice-versa. This is not a traditional dimension that people talk about, but it is a dimension nonetheless that is very, very important,” said Meyer-Shipp. “When we started to have that dialogue there were teams that actually started to realize what they started missing in each other.”
The topic of introverts and extroverts usually comes up during the diversity and inclusion educational programming Prudential conducts throughout the company. Meyer-Shipp said one of the first things she does during a D&I training session is to define diversity and inclusion. When a person asks for a specific example, she usually highlights introverts and extroverts because it is an element of diversity that team members discuss quite often.
For example, someone from the human resource team identified a bright leader who has great ideas. However, the hiring manager later realized that the new employee they thought was going to be phenomenal does not speak up in meetings. As a solution, Meyer-Shipp said the manager should consider that the new employee is an introvert and may need time to digest what he or she is hearing. “They need to walk away and think about it and then they may come back the next day with some brilliant idea,” she explained. “It really does help people take a different perspective on that. We continue to have that discussion as we talk about leadership and inclusiveness.”
Meyer-Shipp said although it’s important to hire a diverse workforce, you have to keep them engaged. “It’s not enough to have a bunch of diverse people at the party [standing] around the dance floor. Inclusion is actually inviting them to dance,” she said, noting that it’s a topic she often discusses with leaders. “We also have educational programs that are around inclusive leadership. … [It helps] leaders to be very thoughtful and intentional about being inclusive.”
Meyer-Shipp said diversity and inclusion has been integral to Prudential’s vision and values for nearly 15 years. “Our chairman has made it clear that the legacy he wants to leave for this company is around his people and the talent.”
Meyer-Shipp noted that Prudential’s chairman and CEO, John Strangfeld, is focused on having a high-quality and diverse workforce of people who are able to bring their authentic selves to the workplace — all of which will keep employees fully engaged so they can drive the best innovation to their clients. “This ties right into [our vision] because we really focus on those core people-qualities and those core leadership abilities. That’s the only way we’re going to end up recruiting and retaining and engaging a diverse workforce.”
Prudential Financial has made the DiversityInc Top 50 list every year since 2001. The Newark, N.J.-based company currently holds the No. 8 spot for 2015 and earned its way onto several specialty lists with DiversityInc, including:
- No. 2 on the Top 10 Companies for People with Disabilities
- No. 2 on the Top 10 Companies for Veterans
- No. 3 on the Top 10 Companies for Recruitment
- No. 10 on the Top 10 Companies for Mentoring