Archive for category: Diversity & inclusion
“You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself.” – Vernon Jordan
When I joined Vanguard almost 9 years ago, I knew having a sense of community would be an important factor in keeping me engaged and fulfilled at work. I was not always going to “want” to get out of bed in the morning and commute to the office, so I needed to find a place where I felt connected on a stronger level. In 2014, I joined the Vanguard Black Professional Network (VBPN). I was initially only looking for professional development opportunities, but I gained so much more, a family. I found a place that feels like home, a place where you don’t always have to code switch and where imposter syndrome subsides a little. At that time, I still didn’t’ realize the invaluable impact that the VBPN would have on my professional career.
In early 2021, Harvard Business Review published an article called “How a Lack of Sponsorship Keeps Black Women Out of the C-Suite.” It highlighted the unique challenges Black Women face when trying to reach the C-suite level in corporate America. I’ve read it 5 times. It put into words so eloquently a challenge I felt I was experiencing as I approached my 7th year at Vanguard. I had always been a consistent solid performer, but I was now aspiring to find more senior level roles. I had been assigned and manifested several mentors over my tenure, but I felt like something was still missing to get to that next level. That’s when I realized I had been underutilizing a resource I had all along. It was through VBPN that I found my first sponsors. Leaders like Latoya Hubbard and Tonya Richardson who watched me during my early years and nurtured my development so they could stand in the gap to showcase who I was to their peers. Or in recent years, those like Jasmine Sims, Janelle McDonald and Marisa Tilghman who have associated my name with words like excellence, impactful and dedicated. They all used their influence to be connectors, amplified my work and mentioned my name in rooms I was not present. This gave me the boost of confidence to go for a promotional opportunity for the first time.
In 2022, VBPN changed its name to BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership and Dialogue) and I took that personally. I was proud to be part of a group that did not shy away from talking about the things that were hard. Over these “post pandemic” years, I watched Vanguard leaders listen to the few Black voices at the table, and like many, it opened my eyes to see how far we’ve come while still knowing there was more work to do. So I told myself I was going to be BOLD-ER. I would speak up in the spaces when it was uncomfortable. I wouldn’t rob my teams from hearing my opinions or viewpoints because I was scared. I would show grace where needed and stand firm on what I know. But ultimately, I knew I wanted to give back to the community that has given so much to me and so I joined the BOLD leadership team.
I’ve since had the opportunity to represent the BOLD community at various recruiting events, both here on Vanguard’s campus and at partner schools. I was able to support the planning of our 10-Year Celebration, which for many was the first time meeting in person since shifting to our hybrid work model. And this year, I served as co-lead for BOLD’s Black History Month programming. Community is so important to our success, and maintaining that community is something I am personally passionate about. I’m so grateful to my BOLD family because in many ways they are responsible for why I’m here and I hope to continue to pay it forward to those who come after me.
When I joined Vanguard almost 6 years ago, I knew I wanted to find a community of women who championed one another and were each other’s biggest advocates. I started my Vanguard career supporting communications for our Institutional business and immediately joined Vanguard’s Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS) Crew Resource Group. As I began attending events, networking sessions, and webinars, I quickly realized what an incredible network I was building. Meeting both new and tenured Vanguard women and understanding their career paths provided me a huge sense of comfort and security.
When it was time for my next challenge, I took on a role as a senior writer for Vanguard’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC). I applied so many learnings from my mentors and friends in my WILS community, and I continued to lean on them when I needed advice or was facing challenges. I eventually expanded my role in WILS and became the OGC WILS Chief of Staff where I formed relationships with several of Vanguard’s senior leaders. It was during that time that one of my mentors encouraged me to pursue people leadership fulltime. Little did I know that I was about to take on not only more responsibility within my role at Vanguard, but also within WILS.
Today I lead a team of five incredible communicators for Vanguard’s Personal Investor business where I have the unique opportunity to communicate our digital strategy and client experience objectives to our crew. I also have the pleasure of serving as the WILS Communications Chief of Staff where I have met some of the most talented and strategic women I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Without my network of extraordinary, inspiring, and powerful women — both in and outside of WILS — I never would have had the courage to pursue people leadership or expand my responsibilities within WILS. I hope I can one day return the favor and provide other women the same opportunities that were afforded to me.
– Huntley W.
When I started at Vanguard Australia four years ago, we had a range of Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) but there wasn’t a Hispanic/Latin American CRG. However, after investigating I soon discovered that there was one operating in the US. I have always been passionate about diversity and inclusion, and thought it would be a great idea to create the CRG here in Australia, given that the Latin/Hispanic community is growing in the country.
After a lot of hard work, we launched the Hispanic/Latinx Organization for Leadership and Advancement (HOLA) in February 2021. The warmness with which crew engaged with HOLA has been fantastic and has really made me feel welcomed and accepted. We have run events on different cultural celebrations such as Brazil’s Carnival and Cinco de Mayo where we had more than 200 crew join us.
The opportunity of launching and co-leading HOLA has not only helped me grow personally, it has also enabled me to build my professional skills. Despite being in a relative junior role when I started looking into the idea, I was supported and encouraged to work on and launch the CRG. HOLA has given me a platform to build my confidence and explore areas I hadn’t been exposed to before, such as leadership and public speaking, whilst extensively growing my network within the company, locally and globally.
I am proud to say I work for a company that really cares about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and where crew are truly inclusive, as well as being in a nurturing environment where there are such great opportunities for growth.
– Alejandra R.
From left to right: Curt Jacques (HOLA Australia Sponsor), Alejandra Romero (HOLA Australia Co-lead), Tim Buckley (Vanguard CEO), Luis Ramirez (HOLA Australia Co-Lead)
Starting out fresh at any point in your career comes with many thoughts and feelings. Starting out fresh when you’re coming into a pre-established team as their new female leader adds an additional layer of complexity. Starting out fresh knowing you’ll need to come out to your new colleagues makes it something you have to really consider when switching your career path with a new employer. So why Vanguard?
The crew at Vanguard make it a place you want to be, and that comes through during the interview and onboarding processes. They make it something you want to be a part of now and in the future. Is everything perfect? No, of course not. Is it better/worse than other places? Maybe, depending on your perspective. Is it a place that acknowledges there is room for continued growth and development as an organization and for individuals? Absolutely.
Finding my Community
During my second week at Vanguard, I was introduced to individuals from two (of many) of our Crew Resource Groups (CRGs) – Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN) and Women’s Initiative for Leadership Success (WILS)/WILS Finance. I’ve been a part of those both groups now for 2 years. The connections I’ve made and the engagement and learning opportunities from OPEN AND WILS have proven to be invaluable to my professional and personal growth as an individual and as a leader.
Walking in my truth as a female leader who also identifies as a lesbian has not always been easy. It also has not always been an option. I was not out in the workplace in the early years of my 23- year career in the financial industry. It wasn’t something we talked about. At Vanguard, I’m not only comfortable showing up each day as my authentic self, but I’m encouraged to do so. I can’t tell you how refreshing that feels. I walk in my truth as a lesbian leader at Vanguard and when I’m out in the community and in the industry, representing Vanguard.
Leading the Charge
Vanguard has nominated me to participate in three opportunities as a leader in my first two years with the firm. I’m honored to have been selected to participate in LEADERSHIP Philadelphia’s Class of 2023 Core Program. It is a nine-month program that enhances civic knowledge and self-awareness and enriches leadership skills. LEADERSHIP fellows receive non-profit board training, and board placement is offered to all interested participants and graduates. I’m also currently enrolled in a pilot leadership development program sponsored by the Finance Division’s senior leadership team. Finally, this March I kick off my journey in SIFMA’s Securities Industry Institute (SII) at UPENN Wharton School – Executive Education three-year program. The professional development opportunities provided by Vanguard demonstrate their commitment to leadership development, especially women in leadership. I may not have had visibility of women leaders from the LGBTQIA+ community in the financial industry in my past, so I feel grateful and honored that I may get to be that for others.
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My Power of Identity The best description of what drives my decisions in my daily tasks, including my #LifeAtVanguard, is to achieve Hozho. Hozho is said to be the most important word in the Navajo language and is loosely translated as being at peace, having balance, seeing beauty, and being in harmony. Holistic may be the closest English word, but not quite! When you are in Hozho, you are at one with the world, while still being a part of the world that surrounds you. At Vanguard, I have the opportunity to grow and develop in that state of HOZHO, by being in a role that offers a platform to share my heritage, to embrace my indigenous culture, and showcase my power of identity. As a Sr. Talent Acquisition Analyst in the Emerging Talent & Diversity Recruiting Strategy Team, I lead our early talent sourcing strategies across the U.S. I support engagements that are aligned to attracting efforts with Indigenous communities. I partner with key universities to manage relationships and network with students through career fairs, holding workshops, providing 1:1 mentoring, and giving presentations. In my role, I am truly encouraged to celebrate my individuality, which ultimately allows me to be transparent in sharing my personal commitment to break psychological, cultural, and emotional barriers.
My Power of Identity
The best description of what drives my decisions in my daily tasks, including my #LifeAtVanguard, is to achieve Hozho. Hozho is said to be the most important word in the Navajo language and is loosely translated as being at peace, having balance, seeing beauty, and being in harmony. Holistic may be the closest English word, but not quite! When you are in Hozho, you are at one with the world, while still being a part of the world that surrounds you.
At Vanguard, I have the opportunity to grow and develop in that state of HOZHO, by being in a role that offers a platform to share my heritage, to embrace my indigenous culture, and showcase my power of identity. As a Sr. Talent Acquisition Analyst in the Emerging Talent & Diversity Recruiting Strategy Team, I lead our early talent sourcing strategies across the U.S. I support engagements that are aligned to attracting efforts with Indigenous communities. I partner with key universities to manage relationships and network with students through career fairs, holding workshops, providing 1:1 mentoring, and giving presentations. In my role, I am truly encouraged to celebrate my individuality, which ultimately allows me to be transparent in sharing my personal commitment to break psychological, cultural, and emotional barriers.
Embracing my culture
As a child, I was raised by my traditional healer grandfather and my strong, loving grandmother who taught the importance of embracing our culture and respecting all humans. I loved hearing my grandfather sing traditional songs, create ceremonial sandpainting’s, and reverently offering service to our community. I enjoyed helping my grandmother with her Navajo rug weaving, assisting as she cared for her animals, and listening to her wisdom of having an open viewpoint, placing importance on attaining knowledge and holding strong to our native traditions.
Vanguard helps me embrace the same values by aligning its mission of taking a stand for ALL investors by doing the right thing. Just as I was taught to give service with respect, to care for others, and to have a Hozho mindset, Vanguard offers balance in my personal development and career journey. I find through my role, I am becoming more aware of Vanguard’s DEI initiatives, which allows me to effectively build deep connections with others and respect all cultures in an inclusive environment.
My identity as a Navajo, first-gen woman, gives me a rare viewpoint to encourage authenticity and develop meaningful relationships with those I meet. At Vanguard, my Hozho journey is embracing my identity and harnessing the power of culture to create deep connections and thrive as ONE with my Emerging Talent and Diversity Recruiting Strategy team.
— Fedora H.
This year’s Hispanic Heritage Month theme is “Unidos: Uniting all Vanguard crew through a celebration of Latinx and Hispanic heritage and culture.” The theme recognizes the voices that have shaped the Latinx community and paved the way for inclusion. As Latinx members and allies, there is a wealth of knowledge, culture, languages, backgrounds, and experiences that unite us all.
In this blog, we hear from crew who share what Unidos and Hispanic Heritage Month means to them:
For me, “Unidos” is an everyday state of mind. Maybe it’s rooted in our culture, but in Mexico, we try to do everything together. The community we have when we interact with each other, either in the workspace or during a meal, is really strong. For example, a lunch meeting with clients, family, or friends always features “sobremesa,” which means the time you stay chatting and exchanging ideas. A good “sobremesa” can last for hours and can be a time for real bonding among the participants.
– Mayolo O.
When I moved to Charlotte from Georgia not too long ago, I looked toward my favorite hobby of volleyball for pastime and exercise. Through volleyball, I met families and friends who are Peruanos, Venezolanos, Puertorriquenos, and more. They invited me into their events and dinners, knowing that I was establishing a new life here on my own. That is what Unidos means to me. We are a community of individuals from many places and backgrounds, yet we still value and know the bonds that bring us together.
– Chris M.
Unidos for me means sharing our Latinx heritage and culture with everyone on our Washington, DC team. Whether that’s highlighting Latinx figures who’ve made significant contributions to society, or sharing traditions my family celebrates, Unidos is all about inclusion and welcoming everyone into the Latinx family.
– Chris R.
Hispanic Heritage Month, Unidos, and HOLA are important to me as they bring light to the warm cultures of dozens of countries across the globe that are represented by those living in the US. As an ally who double majored in Spanish, my participation in HOLA has proven to be a valuable aspect of my career in Finance. Not only does the crew resource group cultivate a new network of support, but it also provides the opportunity to make an impact in an area about which I’m passionate. HHM is a great celebration of independence and heritage. It enables us to break stigmas and highlight growth opportunities in our multicultural markets.
– Julia H.
Unidos for me means not only getting together with friends and family but being together as a community. As Latinx people, others often think we have a lot in common, and while we do, there are also a lot of cultural differences amongst Latinx people. So, when the theme came up, my first thought was about really uniting people, learning from the different cultures within the Hispanic and Latinx communities and celebrating both the things we have in common and the differences, while in a safe space provided by our Vanguard familia.
– Angel S-R.
Women in ETFs (WE) is a global nonprofit open to everyone in the ETF industry, with a mission of developing talent, honoring the achievements of women in the industry, and investing in the ETF community. Vanguard is a gold sponsor and has an internal steering committee focused on maximizing our engagements and benefits from WE, as well as helping to create a sense of community among crew who are members.
Janel attributes her achievement to a long-term focus on the investment industry as well as on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of her goals as a board member is to widen the scale of possibilities for WE members.
“I enjoy helping people discover ways to develop themselves and broaden their networks,” Janel said. Throughout her Vanguard career, she has prioritized helping new and tenured crew members broaden and deepen their ties with one another.
Vanguard is a strong supporter of this organization and its mission. Membership among Vanguard employees has grown to almost 600.
The value of a first impression
When Janel was pursuing a career with investment management companies, committing to one that sustains a diverse culture was a priority for her. She vividly remembers one career fair where Vanguard stood out.
“I met Vanguard’s Chief Investment Officer Greg Davis and, at the time, he was running the U.S. bond index desk,” Janel said. “I hadn’t seen a lot of African Americans in money management, and to see him in the role knowing the mission and values of this organization, I was automatically attracted to working here.
“You hear firms talking about diversity and inclusion, and then you see a room of white males. Does this company really care about diversity and inclusion? When I met Greg, I thought, ‘Wow, they’re serious. I want to be a part of that.’”
Connecting and growing
Janel became involved with Women in ETFs in 2017. After getting to know other women in the group and then attending a conference a few years later, she was inspired to build her ETF knowledge and broaden her network.
“Hearing female speakers at the conference talk about their tenure and path sounded very similar to mine, and many of them were around since the inception of ETFs,” Janel said. “Even though they were working at different firms, seeing how connected they were and the knowledge around the ETF vehicle made me want to get even more involved.”
Janel will continue to advocate for a diverse mindset, equity in opportunities for everyone, and inclusivity. “There’s always going to be more than we can do,” she said. “We should all be getting ahead together.”
In this blog, we wanted to capture the perspectives of our crew who were able to attend. We asked them a few questions about their experience and were thrilled with the positive feedback we received. Here is what they had to say:
“Romba’s OWIB event provided an incredible opportunity to connect, network, and share what #LifeAtVanguard means to me. Attending alongside our Out Professional Engagement Network (OPEN) colleagues was the highlight, as it was my first time meeting many of them in person versus on a screen. It also provided deeper connections and sense of community.”
– Krista D.
“I love the networking aspect of meeting people from other organizations. This is extremely helpful for recruiting and getting the Vanguard story out there, as well as learning from peers in other companies, industries and regions so we can continually raise the bar in both the work we do at Vanguard and our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) journey.”
– Jill O.
“The energy, diversity, and passion in the room created such a refreshing sense of belonging and connection. I especially loved hearing stories from all these talented and courageous women from different backgrounds. Hearing each person’s “hustle” or goal they’re working toward was most impactful to me. It was energizing being surrounded by a community of like-minded people. I’m so proud to be part of a company that values this community and works to lift up these voices.”
– Mary O.
My exposure to accessibility technology started much earlier than most. My father’s cousin used a wheelchair for her adult life and had limited control from her neck down; she was able to move one finger. She was one of the most intelligent women I knew, a college professor with degrees in Criminal Science, and a fantastic taste in movies!
My father was her unofficial tech support, so I was always aware of how important her computer and other tools were for her to go about her daily life. I thought watching her speed through Dragon Naturally Speaking, a speech recognition software that allowed her to move her mouse around on the screen and interact with her computer via her voice, was so cool! In fact, I referenced that experience in my college application essays. So, from a time pre-dating my career, I have associated technology with helping to improve lives.
While in college, I was introduced to Vanguard through my College to Corporate summer internship. Even though my role through that program had nothing to do with software development (which I was majoring in) or accessibility, it was still a lot of fun! I learned so much about Vanguard’s corporate culture, including the firm’s client-first mentality, how caring colleagues are, how supportive managers are on finding balance between work and life, and encouragement to take advantage of Vanguard’s many amenities. I was amazed to learn that one of my coworkers had recruited her son to come work at the same company when adults I knew spent so much time complaining about work; the contrast was vast.
Given the welcoming culture I experienced, returning was a no brainer. When I eventually found my way to a developer role at Vanguard, I attended an internal course for one week that provided a broad overview of the many systems, tools and technologies, and programs that we need to be aware of. I spent a half day learning about what was a relatively new program at Vanguard, their Accessibility Office. I was fascinated by the idea. My manager at the time suggested that I reach out to them and become an ambassador.
Since that time, the Accessibility Office, and its ambassador (now champion) program, has continued to expand, and I have enjoyed being along for the ride. Along with trainings, I have also attended events for Global Accessibility Awareness Day and other accessibility related concepts. Just this year, I have signed up to become certified through International Association of Accessibility Professionals. For me, accessibility closely aligns to Vanguard’s mission – to take a stand for all investors (among other things). It’s important we make sure that all our tools are accessible to everyone.
In addition to my participation in the Accessibility Office, my role as an ambassador has offered me opportunities in my day-to-day job to introduce others on my team and beyond to accessibility concepts and help them integrate accessible implementations. We started small, with reviews of various applications, and the creation of prioritized backlogs to ensure that we could continuously improve our client experience. One occasion that stands out is when we adjusted the color contrast on pie charts on our pages. Upon implementation, one of my colleagues expressed gratitude for our work, as they personally are color blind. This was unexpected and truly demonstrates the positive impact we are having on the lives of others.
As I became more experienced with accessibility, I started to act as a subject matter expert for not just my team, but other teams in my product family and program as well. I am always happy to help when my fellow crew members reach out to me and ask for the best way to make an input, table, or chart more accessible, because I truly believe that every little bit helps! In the last few years, I have started giving overviews to my department about what accessibility is and how to implement it in their daily lives. I have received countless, positive feedback from participants, who were excited to jump in and start making their applications accessible to everyone.
The latest step in my accessibility journey took place in early January of this year when I accepted a role in the Accessibility Office. So, not only has accessibility shaped my childhood and early career, but it continues to shape the future of my work. Vanguard’s accessibility journey is far from finished, and I am looking forward to helping Vanguard continue to strive to give ALL investors the best chance for investment success.