Why DE&I Starts with Your Team

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) has become a hot topic for businesses. Job seekers are increasingly looking for more than a competitive salary and good benefits. Employees and prospective hires alike want to be part of an organization that is a force for good in an increasingly chaotic world.

That’s why we talked to Julie Wolf, the VP and Employer Brand Lead at T. Rowe Price. The firm’s history with DE&I predates the term. Established in 1937, half of the founding associates were women. For 20 years, they’ve been prioritizing diversity within their organization. They’ve recently intensified that work with conversations about narrowing the racial wealth gap between white and non-white households in America and examining the structural barriers to wealth creation.

A Commitment to DE&I

“We have a mandate from the very top of the house to increase diversity at the firm,” Wolf says. While they have a diverse company compared to US population averages, they’ve realized they still have work to do increasing representation across all areas and levels of the firm. They’re currently twelve months into a multi-year project to do just that.

The first step to attracting diverse talent is listening to their needs and understanding what they value. Wolf and her team started with research that showed that equity, purpose, and belonging are the three most important content pillars for their target audience.

What that looks like in action is a multi-channel, multi-story approach to show those themes: How T. Rowe Price achieves equity for people of color at the firm; the purpose of the firm, “to help people close the gap between what they have and what they’ll need;” and a focus on belonging.

“It’s all well and good to bring underrepresented talent into the company,” Wolf says, “but if they don’t experience a sense of belonging, they won’t stay.”

Show Your Values

A crucial part of the process is showing that your organization stands behind its values. As we’ve discussed before, candidates care about more than if you’re a good place to work—they want to know that you’re doing good, too.

To tell that story, Wolf and her team focus on leveraging their highly engaged employee volunteer population, the work of the T. Rowe Price Foundation in local communities, and their financial education program, Money Confident Kids. These issues are important to their target demographic for DE&I recruitment, and spotlighting the firm’s work in these areas says more than the most thoughtfully written employer value proposition ever could.

Start with Your Team

Wolf’s number one piece of advice for any organization looking to improve in the area of DE&I is to start by building a team that looks like the people you’re trying to recruit.

“A lot of employer brand teams consist of only early talent and I think that’s a mistake,” she says. “The number of times in a single day that we leverage the collective diversity on the team, because we all bring a different perspective and set of experiences, makes the work so much stronger and, frankly, a lot more fun.”

If your business routinely recruits from the military, you should have at least one veteran on your team. And that goes double for experience, background, gender, sexual orientation, and more. If you really want to connect with the candidates you’re trying to attract, you need those perspectives to understand what will help you stand out.

It all starts with listening, through research and conversations, and then showing that you live your values in a way that resonates with candidates.

“You can’t do this work unless your heart is in it,” Wolf says, and sometimes you need to wear your heart on your sleeve.

To follow Julie Wolf’s work in employer brand, connect with her on LinkedIn. For help identifying the values and culture you want to create in your company, get in touch.


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