TIAA's CEO Roger Ferguson: It's Time to Speed Up the Progress of Women on Boards

"Improving diversity and inclusion — on boards and across the corporate workforce as well — is not just a 'nice to have' but a business imperative," writes Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., President and CEO at TIAA.

TIAA is No. 27 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list

(Originally published on LinkedIn)

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.

There's good news and bad news about the gender diversity of corporate boards.

The good news: in 2016, nearly 40% of new directors at the nation's 100 largest companies were women, according to the EY Center for Board Matters. The bad news: the proportion of women-held directorships across a broader measure (the S&P 1500) grew by just 1% -- a rate of progress that, if it continues, will put gender parity out of reach for another 30 years.

Clearly, it's time to speed things up.

Today, women make up 50% of the workforce, and they earn more bachelor's and master's degrees than men. Women are critical stakeholders in every business in America, as consumers, employees, and shareholders. Yet they hold just 19.9% of board seats, according to Catalyst, which has tracked what it calls the "glacially slow" progress of women's representation on S&P 500 boards since 1995 (when women held fewer than 10% of all board seats).

Improving diversity and inclusion – on boards and across the corporate workforce as well – is not just a "nice to have" but a business imperative. Research is clear about the benefits that diversity brings to firms, in terms of better decision-making and better financial performance. Promoting a diverse and inclusive corporate culture is also just the right thing to do. That's why TIAA has made diversity and inclusion a corporate priority – and why I was pleased to join more than 100 of my peers in signing on to the recently launched CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion™. The initiative is the largest-ever CEO-driven pledge to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

One way that companies can powerfully affirm their commitment to diversity and inclusion – and also attract the talent that can drive superior long-term performance – is by having more women directors on their boards. TIAA's first woman board member was appointed in 1940, and while we still have work to do, we have been honored by The Women's Forum of New York as a corporate champion of gender-diverse boards. We believe the diversity of our boards is a strength that helps drive our success and enables us to better serve our clients.

Our experience at TIAA shows that getting more women onto boards doesn't happen by accident. Rather, boards must take a proactive approach that includes:

  • Explicitly and proactively declaring their commitment to having a diverse slate of candidates to choose from when filling open board seats.
  • Adopting clear processes and targets to ensure a diverse slate of candidates.
  • Insisting that their search firms present expanded slates that include qualified women director candidates. A recent study showed that simply increasing the number of women candidates improves the chances that a woman will be selected to a board seat. To identify potential women directors, boards can ask their search firms to examine databases like the one created by The Women's Forum of New York, which lists CEO-sponsored, board-ready women. The Committee for Economic Development – whose Every Other One initiative aims to get corporations to replace every other retiring director with a qualified woman – also has a number of helpful resources on its website for identifying women candidates.
  • Voluntarily report on their targets and progress against them.

Without focused and thoughtful action, we won't achieve gender parity in the boardroom for generations to come. We can't let that happen. Making corporate boards more diverse is simply too important to the vitality of individual companies – and to the competitiveness of our nation as a whole.

TIAA Names Lori Fouché as CEO of Retail & Institutional Financial Services

TIAA combines businesses to meet the evolving needs of customers through an integrated team

Originally Published by TIAA.

TIAA, a leading financial services provider, announced the appointment of Lori Fouché as Senior Executive Vice President and CEO of Retail & Institutional Financial Services, effective August 7. Fouché will report directly to TIAA President and CEO Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., and will serve as a member of the company's executive committee.

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TIAA Introduces TIAA Bank, Serving Consumer, Institutional and Commercial Clients Nationwide

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Originally Published by TIAA.

TIAA, a leading financial services provider, today announced the launch of TIAA Bank, bringing together EverBank and TIAA Direct under a new name and brand dedicated to helping clients reach their unique financial goals at every stage of their lives."

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TIAA Celebrates Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month by Addressing Overcoming Stereotypes​

One of the national events featured Amy Chua, Yale University law professor and New York Times best-selling author of multiple books including "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" and "The Triple Package," which is particularly relevant to the workplace and ERGs.



May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history, heritage and contributions of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month started in May 1979 as a week celebration, and in 1992, Congress passed a law that annually designates May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

To honor and recognize this heritage month and its employees with this heritage, the TIAA Asian-American professionals' Employee Resource Group (ERG), called Engage ERG, hosted events in multiple TIAA offices for employees to enjoy and learn more about the Asian culture. One of the national events the Engage ERG hosted was a speaker event on May 10 with Amy Chua, best-selling author of multiple books and law professor at Yale University. Amy Chua is well-known for her New York Times bestseller books, including "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" and "The Triple Package," which is particularly relevant to the workplace and ERGs.

The TIAA Engage ERG's motto, "loud & proud", was a theme in Chua's internal speaker event to TIAA employees. She shared her journey growing up with immigrant parents in the US, and how she felt like an outsider at school and work. She later used this feeling as a strength and it motivated her to be proud of her heritage; using her unique skills as a competitive advantage to connect with global issues.

As a part of this month's activities, TIAA employees were encouraged to stand "loud and proud" and be their authentic selves and deterring individuals from "being" what society expects them to be, and to let the workforce embrace all types of cultures, skills, strengths and backgrounds for the company's advantage.

Amy Chua's story and experience resonated with many of the over 380 TIAA employees who attended the event in conference rooms and on the phones nationwide. She encouraged employees to embrace their culture, and to not let their individuality hold them back simply because it is different.

"Although Amy talked a lot about the challenges and struggles of Asian Americans, I think these are struggles that everyone can relate to. Regardless of your race, gender, beliefs, or sexuality, we are all trying to fit in, trying to overcome stereotypes, trying to make our voices heard," said Wen-Fu Wu, National Co-Chair of the Engage ERG and Managing Director of Asset Allocation at TIAA. "Conversations like these really help us realize that we're all more alike than we are different, and ultimately bring the organization closer together."

Carolynne Singerman, the National Communications Chair of the Engage ERG and a Financial Services Consultant at TIAA, said what resonated with her the most was to realize that positive things can come out of terrible and misfortunate events. . "To me that means instead of looking at it as "why me?" look at it as a way to learn and grow." Singerman added, "I believe it is important to have cultural discussions in the workplace so that we, as employees, can embrace and respect our differences and that we all are human. This acceptance also projects through our business practices."

The TIAA Engage ERG started in 2015 and currently has 501 members. Its mission is to elevate the success of the firm by providing recognition, development, and networking opportunities, especially for Asian-American employees. The ERG hosted additional events this month, including another guest speaker, a kite festival in Denver, and a Dragon Boat festival in Charlotte.