Unconscious bias: Acknowledging, owning, and overcoming our biases
Learning about our biases is the first step toward overcoming them.
The underrepresentation of minority financial services professionals has long been a challenge for the financial services industry. In September 2020, the Financial Alliance for Racial Equity℠, or FARE, was formed with the mission to increase racial diversity, drive greater equity and foster inclusion within the financial services industry and the communities we serve. While a lofty goal, I am pleased to share how far we have come in a short time.
Nationwide has a long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the financial services industry based on our belief that a more diversified industry can benefit firms, financial professionals and consumers — and advance social justice. However, we must first understand the challenges individuals and communities of color face in order to create change, make an impact and deliver results.
According to a Nationwide Retirement Institute® Diverse Markets White Paper, decades of research show that Black consumers tend to express higher levels of generalized distrust than whites. This can potentially be explained by a long history of racist, systemic practices — redlining, devaluation of property, school segregation, inequity in law enforcement — that disproportionately affects the Black population. To overcome the generalized distrust of many Black consumers, financial professionals will need to spend more time building and developing their relationships with Black clients — specifically understanding and addressing their unique needs.
The issue of trust must be addressed by both Black and non-Black financial professionals, and both should work to build better bridges to minority clients. This also points to the need for an increased number of Black financial professionals, so that there are service providers who share important demographic characteristics with Black consumers. FARE seeks to increase the number of Black financial professionals through expanded research, increased training, and mentorship opportunities at both the university and professional level.
To advance actionable solutions and contribute to lasting change in the industry, Nationwide partnered in September 2020 with leading financial services organizations, associations and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to form FARE. Members include Advisor Group, Capital Group/American Funds, Franklin Templeton, Huntington Bank, Miami Life, Morgan Stanley, M Financial Group, NFP, RBC Wealth Management, Swiss Re, and Nationwide.
The partnering HBCUs include Hampton University, Howard University, Lincoln University of Missouri, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University and Winston-Salem State University. Industry partners include the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA), the American Retirement Association, the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board), and The American College of Financial Services.
With the unique partnership of HBCUs and financial services organizations, members of the alliance seek to build sustainable economic wealth in diverse communities and increase the number of Black advisors and financial professionals through mentorship opportunities, expanded research and increased training. The alliance is providing Black college students with direct access to executive mentors at member firms, while also creating a new talent pathway for students at member HBCUs and leading financial services firms.
Our scope is not limited to Black financial professionals; it includes Black or other minority professionals in the financial services industry across all disciplines — Marketing, Operations, Advisory, etc. We want to transform the financial services industry to better serve minority employees and communities — current and future generations — using actionable and measurable solutions.
I’m excited about how the education and financial services industries have been able to come together, using research as the basis for change. Based on our initial success and traction, I’m confident we will continue to drive meaningful change.
“Partnering with HBCUs offers us direct access to some of the best and brightest students in the United States and also offers us access to those individuals who can go in and succeed through internships but also as financial services professionals. In turn, these professionals will leverage that education and social experience that they were fortunate to receive at an HBCU to help bridge the wealth gap in those communities that are underrepresented. Those individuals will also serve as future mentors and leaders in this industry. It’s sowing the seed that will help build stronger families, stronger communities and also a stronger country.” – Kristi Rodriguez, SVP, Nationwide Retirement Institute
“By working together, we know we can produce greater results and drive structural change in the industry and within those underserved communities. We know Black college students and financial professionals need to see real change. Our commitment is for long-term change, and it won’t happen overnight. It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s good business.” – Clarence Knox, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Miami
“Partnerships are really about sharing and connecting in ways that allow you to have a multiplying effect that you cannot achieve individually. I am looking forward to seeing us continue to advance those kinds of specific actions.” – John Carter, President and COO of Nationwide Financial
“As a proud HBCU grad, I believe it is the duty of HBCU graduates to pay it forward. I am so excited for these opportunities to enrich the lives of minority professionals through scholarships, internships, and intentional development programs.
And we’re not just paying lip service. With our research-based approach, we are proving we can get to the root causes and do the hard work to diversify representation in our industry and also among the audiences we serve to help close the wealth gap. And it has to start at the top. Leaders must populate their organizations with high-performing talent, including a diversity of employees who bring a unique set of experiences, skills and capabilities.
I’m encouraged by FARE creating this network of opportunity, which is essential to addressing the challenges that Black college students and financial professionals face today.” – Mike James, Executive Vice President, Chief Sales Officer
All third parties mentioned are not related to or affiliated with Nationwide or any of its affiliates.
Nationwide Investment Services Corporation (NISC), member FINRA, Columbus, Ohio. The Nationwide Retirement Institute is a division of NISC.
Nationwide Retirement Institute, FARE and Financial Alliance for Racial Equity are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. ©2023 Nationwide