Conversations for change

Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace


The economic ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt through all communities, however, the lack of financial literacy can make the road to recovery much tougher. According to the 2021 P-Fin Index, which measures the knowledge and understanding that enable sound financial decisions and effective management of personal finances, financial literacy tends to be significantly lower for Black Americans at just 37 percent, compared to 55 percent for white Americans.1

While there are many factors at play, these findings illustrate the need for more diversity in the financial services industry. Daudley Fanfan, Director of Culture Transformation here at Guardian and Van Ewing, Managing Principal & Co-General Agent at Hunken Ewing Financial Group, offer their insights on how increased inclusion in the workforce can make an impact from culture to revenue.

How does a diverse workforce contribute to an organization’s revenue?

Daudley Fanfan: “When I think about representation, it’s important at all levels of the organization, but particularly at the senior levels. Whether it be gender diversity, cultural, or ethnic diversity, once you have diverse minds in the rooms where decisions are being made then it allows for a deeper relationship with customers. If we expect our customers to be diverse, then our workforce must be too. This enables an organization to understand the unique perspectives of its consumers and establishes a really good position to provide products and services that truly meet the needs of those consumers. That’s when you’re really making an impact on revenue and creating a profit center that’s driven by diversity.

Is it important because it’s the right thing to do? Yes. But at the end of the day, businesses need to develop a deeper relationship with consumers to create a direct line of understanding to their customers’ needs.  When a firsthand understanding of those needs is represented when decisions are being made, it creates a harmonious connection between diversity and revenue. “

Why does diversity matter in management?

Van Ewing: “Quickly after I began in the financial services industry, I was able to move into management and then managing partner. Once I was in that position, I realized that there was no one else who looked like me. After coming into this career and being fortunate enough to have some really quick success, I wanted to see that for others as well. I understood then that representation in management would be the quickest way to enable these opportunities for diverse, underrepresented communities.

Mentorship is another important side of things. My positions in management have opened opportunities to sit on the top boards in my local community, which has led to meeting a lot of individuals. Once in leadership and management, you can get out there and help people understand that being in the financial services industry is one of the greatest careers that someone can have. “

What do you say to employers that want to commit to bringing in more diverse talent?

Daudley Fanfan: “First thing is that an organization needs to be purposeful and intentional about understanding why diverse talent is needed.  It’s a proactive process. Creating access points is essential because it’s not necessarily going to come knocking at your door, although sometimes it’s right under your nose. There are organizations out there that can open doorways for companies to connect with diverse talent, such as local colleges and other diversity-focused associations. Once you get connected, discuss the goals of your company, how you’re trying to better serve your customers and the culture that you’re trying to create.“

Changes created through culture

The thoughtful words of Daudley and Van outline how effective leadership, mentorship, and an understanding of the importance of diversity can help pave the way for increasing diversity in the financial services industry. A commitment to bringing these values to life is not only the right thing to do but also makes good business sense.

There is an opportunity for companies to consider their cultures and create strategies to drive inclusion. This opens the avenue to connect with a more diverse customer base and may also lead to lasting positive change throughout the community, potentially contributing to higher rates of financial literacy for Black Americans.

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Van A. Ewing II is a Registered Principal of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. General Agent of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Hunken Ewing Financial Group is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. CA Insurance License #0L51531.

2022-133491 20240228