Georgette Dixon: How Wells Fargo Helps Communities Grow

This self-described former 'performing artist' has embraced the challenge of helping Wells Fargo educate and connect with underrepresented groups in its communities.

Georgette "Gigi" Dixon has been an active community leader, one who has tied community support to business goals—first at Wachovia and now at Wells Fargo, where she is senior vice president and director of national partnerships, Government and Community Relations.

She attributes her career and her deep motivation to give back to her family's influence. "Both of my grandmothers gave me a strong spiritual foundation," Dixon says. "I was taught to be a good steward and to use what I have wisely because I might not have it tomorrow." She says it's similar for a corporation, which first has to demonstrate that it has a right to be a part of the community before it can become a part of that community.

Providing Financial Literacy to Black & Latino Families

What was then called Wells Fargo's Social Responsibility Group was formed four years ago to help the company address important social issues within its communities. For example, Dixon says, the bank launched a mortgage-related initiative in which employees proactively reached out to customers, many of whom come from low-income Black or Latino families, and provided them with solutions for home preservation.

Just as Dixon's family played a foundational role in her career, Dixon explains that the core of corporate social-responsibility work similarly starts with the family unit. "Families need knowledge. They need the skills to make good decisions about money, what I call financial stability," she says. "They need the capability to plan to meet their goals and dreams. That's what we're trying to do at Wells Fargo."

The lack of access to financial education creates large gaps among households, especially for low- and moderate-income and Black and Latino families, which Dixon says traditionally are unfamiliar with how to participate in the financial markets and with fiscal options that can help with budgeting, planning and investing.

Wells Fargo, No. 33 in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity, partners with national organizations like the NAACP's Financial Freedom Center and the United Negro College Fund's Empower Me Tour, which Dixon says does well to deliver inspirational messaging and hands-on workshops to parents and their kids. Wells Fargo also sponsored the Central Scholarship Bureau's Financial Literacy Summit, shown in the video below, among other student-focused programs.

"One of our goals is to provide education to kids early and get them interested in finances—and young people are chomping at the bit for all the information they can get," says Dixon. To create added engagement, the programs bring in celebrity speakers from the same socioeconomic background, such as actor Hill Harper from the TV show CSI: NY, to share how they successfully built a financial future. Read more about Wells Fargo's commitment to financial literacy in this Q&A with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf.

Corporate Accountability & Authenticity

"I've been personally impacted by the commitment," says Dixon, who says her work provides Wells Fargo deep insight into the economic challenges faced by many customers within their communities, especially those from underrepresented groups. "Our decisions have significant impact on people's lives. It's the responsibility of every corporation in America to be in the business of insuring the communities we serve and making sure they are success driven," she says.

Corporate social responsibility is a full-circle endeavor, according to Dixon: Both internally—through increased engagement, employee volunteerism and diversity—and externally—from a stakeholder and a mergers-and-acquisitions perspective—this work impacts how employees feel about the company they work for and how customers feel about the company they do business with. "It's a personal accountability for me and a reflection of how I've trained and evolved and how I bring real authenticity to work every day," Dixon says.

She adds, "What I hope to accomplish is consistent with what my company hopes: to be a leader around social responsibility, to be respected and admired by customers. We're invested in the financial success of our customers. Our goal is to be a leader at it."

Affinity for Leadership

Dixon studied speech, communication and theater at Tennessee State University and excelled at student leadership: She was the first female president of the university's Student Government Association, was a student regent in the state, interned for the governor and continues to be a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.  As a result, Procter & Gamble offered her a sales/marketing manager position before graduation, which she's glad her father, a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, talked her into accepting.

"I had absolutely no intention of working in corporate America; I was a performing artist," says Dixon. "My parents instilled in me that I have to try new things and be open to change and new adventures, to live life to the fullest."

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