Diversity & Inclusion – How Wellington Management is building a diverse talent pipeline


Wellington’s Head of Talent Management and its Head of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) discuss their approach to achieving their strategic D&I goals.


Wellington Management, one of the world’s leading global investment firms, is on a diversity and inclusion mission.  Deeply passionate about engaging all levels of staff across a global firm, Wellington’s Head of Talent Management and its Head of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) both speak enthusiastically about achieving a profound commitment to ensure they are taking a systemic approach to achieving their strategic D&I goals.
As with many professional organisations, this is no box-ticking exercise for Wellington Management: Rebecca Walker, the Director of Talent Management and Development, and Shawna Ferguson, the Director of Diversity & Inclusion, have been working as a partnership with UK-based Sladen Consulting’s multi-ethnic and diverse global team to engage their 2,600 colleagues working in 17 offices globally.
“D&I issues are critical to a firm committed to engage, nurture and retain diverse colleagues around the world,” they explain.  “While D&I was already at the core of our work, a staff survey highlighted how under-represented groups – in terms of race, age, religion, sexual identification, gender and ethnicity – were in need of deeper and earlier investment in their growth and development if the firm was to be sure of a strong and diverse pipeline for the future.  This was particularly true for early-career colleagues within those diverse groups.”  
This need was further emphasized with the more recent call to action that the firm made as a result of the social and racial inequality protests following the death of George Floyd.
Call to Action
Wellington Management’s leadership responded to this call to action with vigour and determination. 
Although the survey highlighted an initial need for staff training, with Sladen Consulting onboard it was agreed that training alone would not help the firm retain and develop this cohort.  A deeper investigation revealed more fundamental opportunities.
Sladen founder Richard Colley saw the issue as twofold:  “It is right that the firm should invest more actively in the skills and engagement of their diverse talent.  But underpinning this is the need to enable their managers to create an environment in which the less engaged, less thriving staff could prosper.  So we agreed to first involve the managers and then the employees in an overall programme.
“This client is super-involved and fully-committed, so we have an intense collaboration. We have been able to face challenges head-on: this is how we made the breakthroughs needed.
“Together, with Rebecca and Shawna’s leadership,  we have built something genuinely pioneering.  It’s a blend of different learning experiences, shorter ‘skill bite’ development experiences, intimate coaching pods led by diverse coaches, and business simulation exercises for managers to work through. 
“We designed this complex set of strands and then Covid hit, so we immediately set about making it work through virtual delivery.”
‘Ground Breakers’ lead the way
Rebecca Walker explains:  “Our urgent need was to inspire greater engagement, develop higher professional skills and stimulate improved business behaviours.
“Together with Sladen, we secured managers’ commitments to more purposefully invest in developing our diverse early-career colleagues.  Then we created a generation of ‘Ground Breakers’ amongst those early-career colleagues.”
A special course is developing managers’ self-awareness to open their eyes to creating opportunities for people to become more included within the firm’s culture.  The manager’s culture is the workplace culture – they create it, and it needs to be more inclusive and sensitive to diversity.   
The programme is sponsored by two of the firm’s leaders who act as influencers and sounding boards for the early-career Ground Breakers. The firm’s senior leadership team are strong advocates for the programme.
Just one element within a systemic D&I approach
Rebecca Walker and Shawna Ferguson emphasise that the programme being delivered with Sladen is just one part of a systemic approach: “This is not a panacea – it is a long-term, deep commitment to diversity and inclusion across the firm.
“The final outcome of Wellington Management’s Ground Breakers’ Academy is  yet to be measured, but the immediate impact on our early- to mid-career diverse talent has already been demonstrated with an increase in overall sentiment around growth and development in the most recent pulse survey.”

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