A conversation between Jolen Anderson, Global Head of HR (above left) and Daisey Holmes, Global Head of Philanthropy & CSR (above right).
Daisey Holmes: Jolen, this report marks the first CSR Report since you joined BNY Mellon. What sets BNY Mellon apart from other companies or what impressed you when you began working here?
Jolen Anderson: The people. Since I’ve joined BNY Mellon, I’ve been impressed by the many things that BNY Mellon and our employees do in creating an inclusive culture that prioritizes respect, openness and equality within our company and our communities. Real inclusion invites everyone to feel comfortable and confident that they belong and that won’t happen unless individuals can proudly display their differences. After all, diverse perspectives are wasted if they are not present, voiced or heard.
DH: While this report is focused on the work done throughout the company in 2019, we must acknowledge how vastly different the landscape is in 2020. What are your thoughts about our company’s response to the recent events across America, highlighting social injustice, all while continuing to deal with global repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic?
JA: I am deeply impacted by the recent events displaying the harsh reality that there is still privilege or penalty attached to the color of one’s skin. These events bring sadness, anger and anxiety; however, we must remain steadfast in our work and belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion. BNY Mellon has always been a company that is committed to an inclusive culture and being a strong community partner. In these times, this commitment is paramount.
Our commitment to our key stakeholders remains a top priority–service and support of our clients, employees, communities and society. With that in mind, we made an early decision to direct non-essential staff to work from home. During this transition, we specifically focused on ensuring our people felt valued and engaged, while delivering for our clients. Our Executive Committee established daily video meetings and meet regularly with our board of directors. We keep our employees abreast of developments in a transparent and timely manner and ensure that they have the resources they need to stay healthy, safe and productive. Also, we announced that there would not be a reduction in staff in the year 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights how we are each responsible as global citizens–and the value of our connection to others. Our ESG work and this current experience are interestingly quite aligned.
DH: I have been pleased to see our colleagues across the company quickly adapt to a new normal and come together to speak out against injustice. What has inspired you the most, or made you proud?
JA: It’s hard to choose just one as I was privy to so many examples of our employees rising to the occasion to help our clients and each other. I am so proud that, true to our long legacy of service, BNY Mellon has stood beside our employees in support of our communities during this time of change. As of June 2020, BNY Mellon has committed over $20 million of aid to nonprofit partners across the globe, to deliver relief from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the wellbeing of underrepresented communities. Our support strategically focused on bolstering public health infrastructure, providing front-line relief, and social service aid to those most affected by the pandemic. In addition, we made significant commitments to support workforce training and upskilling programs for minority groups and communities impacted by the economic downturn, and to organizations working on issues of justice reform and racial equality.
DH: I share your sentiments–I also am very proud of my team’s leadership in the current campaigns and especially, of the employee response. I’d like to conclude by coming back to the report; what initiatives in 2019 would you highlight–what story really sticks out in your mind?
JA: I know that under your guidance, the CSR team spent much of 2019 reimagining our approach given the megatrends existing today compared with five years ago when we issued goals. It’s exciting to see the results of that work reflected in this year’s report, announcing our new pillars–Culture & Purpose, Responsible Business, and Global Citizenship–and the associated goals and KPIs. This not only reconfirms our commitment to ESG, but strengthens the way we manage it. As for stories, the one that really resonated with me was Diversity: Engine of Innovation. Roman Regelman is leading by example, taking a broad view of diversity to spur ideas and embrace change.
For more, read Diversity: Engine of Innovation.