Prudential Financial, Inc. (No. 15 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) has strengthened its longstanding commitment to address societal needs and champion financial security by moving its office of Corporate Social Responsibility to the C-Suite, reporting directly to Vice Chairman Mark Grier.
The move affirms Prudential’s shared value approach to integrating CSR with business strategy under the leadership of Lata Reddy, who leads CSR and has been named chair of The Prudential Foundation.
Reddy, the architect of Prudential’s shared value approach, also serves as president of the Foundation. In these roles, she oversees the company’s efforts to harness capital markets to drive social and financial mobility and sustainable growth.
“Prudential was founded to serve working families. From our beginning, we have always believed that our higher purpose is to pursue inclusive growth that benefits shareholders, customers and society,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential.
“Lata is a transformative leader who has advanced Prudential’s mission to connect business growth with societal progress. The elevation of her role and this important organizational shift recognizes that the integration of Corporate Social Responsibility and business strategy is foundational to creating true long-term value,” Strangfeld continued.
Advancing social progress, creating business value
Prudential’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts tackle some of society’s most intractable problems and position the company for the future by building partnerships that lead to new markets or expand Prudential’s own workforce. Reddy leads these efforts by harnessing impact investments, philanthropy, corporate contributions and employee engagement, and leveraging Prudential’s full business capabilities.
- A recent partnership with Leapfrog Investments, a private equity platform focused on promoting financial inclusion in emerging markets, began as a $15 million impact investment in a fund that invests in companies that provide insurance, savings, pensions, investment products and other financial services to emerging consumers in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. By 2016, the effort grew to a $350 million investment to expand Prudential’s international business footprint in Africa.
- A nearly $1 million commitment from The Prudential Foundation in El Paso, Texas, is helping to build the next generation workforce in the city, specifically providing math and technology training to military veterans and military spouses, and the city’s large Latino community. The commitment complements the company’s business technology solutions center, opened in 2014, and promises to create a pipeline for new talent at Prudential, aiming to make Prudential the city’s employer of choice.
- Prudential is more than halfway toward meeting its pledge to build a $1 billion impact investing portfolio by 2020 that seeks to generate financial returns while creating social impact. As an example, Newark, N.J.’s iconic Hahne Building reopened in January after sitting abandoned for nearly three decades, thanks to a $174 million redevelopment project led by joint venture partners Prudential Financial and L+M Development. The project continues Prudential’s campaign of investments to build a walkable, thriving community in its hometown, and creates a blueprint for revitalizing similar cities throughout the country.
- Most recently, Prudential announced a three-year, $5 million partnership with The Aspen Institute to advance solutions that increase financial security for all American workers. The partnership will promote broad reforms in labor and financial markets to help working people move from financial fragility toward resilience, mobility and prosperity.
Reddy is credited with leading Prudential’s advancement of the revitalization of its hometown, Newark, N.J., by combining investments in the physical redevelopment of the city with philanthropic funding to support programs that enable social and economic mobility for its residents.
In addition to the Hahne & Co. project, she has been instrumental in the renovation of Military Park, the epicenter of the historic downtown corridor; the creation of a free ultra-high speed Wi-Fi network in Newark’s downtown district; the development of the Teachers Village live-learn-work-play community; and bringing next-wave manufacturing to the city through the innovative vertical farming company AeroFarms, among numerous other projects and programs.
Reddy originally joined Prudential in 1997 to manage The Prudential Foundation’s education grants and became vice president of the Foundation in 2002. She left in 2008 to launch a consulting practice and returned—to her current role—in 2012. For her entire career, she has been dedicated to promoting equity—exemplified through her work as a civil rights attorney with the U.S. Department of Education.
Reddy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Michigan and a law degree from Emory University School of Law. She currently serves on the boards of Living Cities and Local Initiatives Support Corporation and is on the advisory board for the California Organized Investment Network.