The push to become a better organization never ends. A big component of that journey is bringing in talented people from different backgrounds and tapping into their potential to solve problems we otherwise may never even have known existed. It’s an ongoing process of reevaluating how we are engaging with others and discovering ways to improve. Last month, Mastercard chose to raise the stakes of what we once called our Inclusion and Diversity strategy by adding another term to our mission: Equity.
This change was not just a check-the-box; it came after a lot of thoughtful deliberation. The term Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) simply offers a clearer description of what we mean when we say we want to “do well by doing good.” And as the newly named executive vice president and chief inclusion officer, I want to lay out precisely what this newly added term, equity, means to me and what Mastercard will do to incorporate it into our daily lives.
To me, diversity, equity and inclusion are interwoven. We need all three working together to conquer systemic racism (and all of the other “isms”) and social injustice. Diversity is the process of bringing together disparate parts. It explains why we hire people who are different from one another — whether it’s how we look, love, live or pray — in order to better serve our wide-reaching network of partners, customers and cardholders.
Employing a diverse team means nothing if we do not listen to what each person has to say or invite them into crucial conversations. We have seen the societal and economic implications of being excluded. This is why we need inclusion. We all have an opportunity to strengthen our inclusion muscle and build the leadership skills to develop and retain diverse teams of talent, making certain every person has a seat at the table and that every voice is heard.
But we cannot stop there. COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis exposed the ugly truth of systemic racism and inequality. It prompted us to examine how we can spark more equitable economic growth and to commit $500 million to create more opportunities within Black communities. It also underscored the realization that — even if we do not always see it ourselves — we unknowingly participate in practices that prevent others from thriving. This is where equity comes in: Equity is examining and tweaking our systems to make sure that diversity and inclusion are embedded into the way the organization is run. Equity is what makes us all accountable. It’s what makes this a team effort, not just the mission of a vocal few.
Equity is what makes us all accountable. It’s what makes this a team effort, not just the mission of a vocal few.
At Mastercard, equity means ensuring all of our systems — from hiring and talent development to research and product development, sales and marketing, procurement and community outreach — allow everyone to participate and flourish regardless of their background. We know that business succeeds when it has a diverse range of perspectives.
We all tend to gravitate toward things and people with which we are familiar. As a Black gay man, I will tend to gravitate toward people I can relate to or whom I know. But we can learn a lot by inviting other people into the room and hearing them out. That’s why Mastercard has launched a series of DEI audits, which regularly examine how our departments are doing. For instance, our Integrated Marketing and Communications advisory board reviews advertising and marketing campaigns to make sure they are as representational and inclusive as possible. We’re also conducting reviews of our human resources functions and our talent pipeline and development. Those are just a couple of many examples in which we’re actively investing in driving equity.
We’re mindfully growing our network of suppliers, from merchants to marketing agencies and many in between, so we can award those opportunities to partners from across the geographic and societal spectrum. We’ve also invited our Business Resource Groups — employee-led groups organized around a shared background or interest — to contribute ideas for pushing our DEI strategy further. One example of that in action is our PRIDE (LGBTQ) group, which collaborated closely with our marketing team to create True Name, a Mastercard feature for an issuing bank’s payment card that enables a cardholder to use their true name on their card without the requirement of a legal name change. We look forward to more substantive innovations like these, ones where we can discover what people need and how we can help.
Creating opportunities for those who have historically been excluded does not take away from anyone; rather, it lifts us all up. Focusing on one group does not mean we are not also investing in others. What equity does is remind us of our broader inclusion strategy and challenge us to use the breadth and depth of our investments across the company to create meaningful progress and equal opportunities for everyone, everywhere.