DiversityInc 2022 Top 50 Event: Fireside Chat: State Street’s Eric Aboaf and Paul Francisco

According to DiversityInc CEO Carolynn L. Johnson, State Street (No. 44 on DiversityInc’s 2022 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) CEO Ronald P. O’Hanley is the only CEO to ever say that the company needs to focus on ethnic and racial diversity in the same way it focuses on gender diversity to build its talent pipeline.

Eric Aboaf, CFO, State Street Corporation

During a Fireside Chat with State Street EVP and CFO Eric Aboaf and SVP and Chief Diversity Officer Paul Francisco at the 2022 DiversityInc Top 50 event, Johnson asked Aboaf to explain the leadership decision that went into O’Hanley making that comment, the work that went into making the company’s 2021 ESG Report and how it proved out in the data submitted for DiversityInc’s Top 50 list. 

It all started two summers ago, Aboaf said. 

“Ron stepped up and said, ‘we’ve got to act and we’ve got to act industriously,’” Aboaf said. 

From there, the company laid out 10 actions, which were publicized on State Street’s website and are tracked annually, he said, adding that some of those steps focused on increasing ethnic and racial diversity within the company. 

The company started by taking small steps to increase racial and ethnic diversity because “everything can’t be done at once.” 

“We realized if we put some resource energy behind an area, we’ll make some headway,” he said.

Paul Francisco, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer, State Street Corporation

When asked what scientific studies State Street used to start focusing more on racial and ethnic diversity, Francisco said “you don’t need studies to tell you the inequities and inequalities that are present not only in society but in our organizations.”

“For us it was simple. We have a lot of thought partners like DiversityInc and others that help us understand and figure out where we are. We also listened to our employees. Our board was really integral in supporting this decision. Ron didn’t make that decision in a vacuum to say we need to prioritize this work, we have been prioritizing this work I would say five years prior to that.”

He explained how the company has been working on this by saying it has had difficult conversations and has talked about allyship and other topics. 

Watch the full session below.

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