How one firm plans to tackle racism, social injustice

As employers across all industries try to find their footing amid racial injustice protests taking place across the nation, financial services firm Edward Jones has detailed its plans to combat racism with a number of actions.

The St. Louis-based company, which has 49,000 employees, unveiled a plan for combating racism and increasing opportunities for employees of color. Among the steps are:

  • Conduct a pay analysis and correct any disparities found when reviewing race, age, gender or sexual orientation;
  • Continue racial-equity training and anti-racism personnel policies; and
  • Encourage employees to engage in honest dialogue.

“We recognize that our approach—to listen, learn, take responsibility and act in accordance with our values—requires commitment,” says Penny Pennington, managing partner at Edward Jones. “Beyond statements and platitudes is the real work, the real action of our 49,000 associates in support of real progress. Much more work needs to be done. And it starts with us.”

Related: Edward Jones’ coronavirus strategy: Keeping employees (virtually) connected

The company also released the makeup of its workers as a baseline. Currently, 8% of the firm’s financial advisers are people of color and 21% are women. Within its home office senior leadership roles, 9% are people of color and 30% are women.

Pennington said the company will work to increase diversity among its financial advisers and senior leadership and will share its progress in a new inclusion and diversity annual report.

“We insist on diversity in our professionals and inclusion in our policies and behaviors and hold ourselves accountable to our clients, colleagues and communities in achieving meaningful progress,” she says.

Related: 5 coronavirus lessons from Edward Jones’ CHRO

The company also said it’s supporting organizations and programs “important to its clients, colleagues and communities.” That includes a $1 million donation to the National Urban League’s “Fights for You” campaign. The firm will expand its ongoing support of the National Urban League, which provides economic empowerment, educational opportunities and the guarantee of civil rights for people of color and underserved urban residents in America.

Edward Jones’ new plan comes as a growing number of companies are reexamining their corporate strategies and calling for action in the wake of George Floyd’s death, related protests and nationwide social unrest. While several companies have issued public statements in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, many have not outlined specific plans of action.

Related: Putting words into action on racial inequality

However, a number of employers made Juneteenth—a June 19 holiday that commemorates the end of slavery—a paid company holiday. JCPenney, Levi Strauss & Co., Namely, Nike, Postmates, Twitter and the University of Denver were among employers that gave workers the day off. Company leaders say observing the day as a holiday—most for the first time—is important recognition for systemic racism and provides a chance for employees to reflect.

Related: Companies embracing Juneteenth as a paid holiday

More information on Edward Jones’ five-point plan can be found here.

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