The mission of the Boston Bar Association is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, foster a diverse and inclusive professional community, and serve the community at large. To accomplish the final part of that mission and foster a truly diverse and inclusive profession, however, requires allies—both individuals and organizations committed to promoting a workforce and community diverse in thought, background, and experience.
Fidelity Investments is one organization that has shown a true commitment to being such an ally. The company’s efforts to further that goal and work as a leader in internal and external projects, including practices that promote a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive legal profession, led to their selection as the 2023 Beacon Award Corporate Champion.
“The Committee is thrilled to celebrate Fidelity’s long history of intentional work in this space to make a difference by supporting the success, development, and inclusion of its employees,” said Bill Gabovitch, Beacon Award Committee Co-Chair. “We see the results of that intentionality with a strong Boston-based leadership team that has a significant amount of female and BIPOC leaders. Fidelity deserves recognition for its efforts to hold itself accountable and its commitment to making a difference.”
In its Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Report—the investment firm’s second, after beginning the practice in 2021—Fidelity noted, “We know that good intentions must be paired with actions to drive successful outcomes.” Over the last several years, Fidelity has shown a laudable effort to do just that, pairing impressive intentions with the difficult work required to ensure those efforts come to fruition.
The firm’s initial Diversity and Inclusion report cited three major intentions for the firm over the coming years: Increasing the diversity at all levels within the company; ensuring inclusion across its workforce by removing the barriers that can deter or delay it; and creating new opportunities and value for its customers and the communities where they live, work, and serve by participating in efforts addressing systemic issues that drive inequalities.
Fidelity hired 16,600 new employees in 2021, allowing the firm to increase its gender and ethnic diversity. Fidelity noted, “We expanded our hiring efforts into new geographic regions beyond our existing footprint, which allowed us to intentionally tap into new and diverse talent pools.” Fidelity also unveiled new initiatives aimed at improving diversity and inclusion, which included a new Self-Identification (Self-ID) program, an Inclusive Hiring Practices Hub, establishing a Customer Inclusion Team, and several enterprise-wide learning modules for associates and leaders.
Explaining the Self-ID Program, Wendy John, Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion, stated it, “allows our associates to share, voluntarily and confidentially, information about aspects of their identity with Fidelity. This includes expanded race/ethnicity details, sexual orientation, gender identity, pronouns, disability and veteran status and a field to indicate being a first-generation college graduate. As participation in this program grows over time, the expanded data will help us identify opportunities to create a more inclusive culture, gain a more comprehensive view into the composition of our workforce, and better measure our progress on diversity and inclusion.”
The Fidelity Investments Customer Inclusion Team was established in late 2020 “to partner across the enterprise to meet individuals in underrepresented communities at the intersection of their values, identities, and needs.”
Since 2020, that team has worked with Fidelity’s Women and Young Investor teams to ensure Fidelity addresses the needs of what it called its fastest-growing customer segments. It has also helped expand the capabilities across Fidelity’s digital platforms to support accessibility, translation, and self-identification. The team supports the financial health of underrepresented communities by making financial expertise broadly accessible through toolkits, workshops, and webinars, and partners to prepare customer-facing associates with the insights, language, and resources needed to provide more inclusive, welcoming, and differentiated experiences for clients.
The company is also working to improve diversity and representation within its ranks following a unique year of elevated hiring volumes, the continuing pandemic, and changing labor force dynamics. As of December 2021, Fidelity’s workforce was comprised of 39% women and 28% People of Color, up from 20% in 2015. At the senior leadership level, 28% of Fidelity’s global workforce is comprised of women holding a vice president role or higher; 16% of its senior leaders are People of Color. Additionally, the firm saw notable increases in representation among associates in leadership positions who identify as female, with similar increases among ethnically diverse associates in leadership positions, both at the vice president level and above.
Fidelity’s diversity and inclusion efforts also extend beyond its own walls. In 2022, the company increased its investment in diverse suppliers to over $300 million to ensure diversity and cultural competency extends into its sourcing practices and supported more than 150 nonprofit organizations serving underserved communities, with a focus on Black and Brown youth. Following a listening tour with 60+ nonprofits focused on racial equity and social justice, Fidelity expanded efforts to create access and opportunities in underserved communities to help reduce the wealth gap through financial education,” the firm noted.
“In the community, we are building trusted relationships with nonprofits based on transparency and mutual learning and bridging financial inclusion and economic mobility opportunities for underserved and under-resourced groups,” said Pamela Everhart, Head of Community Relations and Regional Public Affairs at Fidelity. “From scholarships and education, to mentoring, grants, and programmatic support, we are committed to helping students establish a foundation to build generational wealth.”
As Fidelity has stated, good intentions must be followed by tangible action. Over the last few years, Fidelity Investments has paired the two, working to create a workforce that more closely resembles and inclusively serves its customers and communities.
The legal department has introduced several bespoke programs to advance its focus on diversity. This includes a D&I speaker series which was established to share the experiences and career paths of Black attorneys with Fidelity associates. The department also established a D&I advisory board to provide guidance on issues including hiring, career development, and training for diverse associates. The D&I advisory board was also instrumental in formulating and implementing inclusive hiring practices for the Legal department.
“By formally adopting these practices, we aim to advance a more consistent approach among hiring teams, expand our networks to reach underrepresented talent, create an inclusive experience for candidates, and increase the diversity of our candidate slates,”, said Jonathan Chiel, Head of Legal, Risk & Compliance at Fidelity Investments.
“We respect and value our associates for their unique perspectives and individual lived experiences,” said Wendy John. “It’s this diversity that strengthens us and inspires the kind of innovation that helps us deliver on our mission to strengthen the financial well-being of our clients.”
With this consistent focus, Fidelity Investments continues to solidify its standing as a corporate champion of diversity and a beacon of thoughtful inclusion in the Boston community, and beyond.