Strengthening our future through diversity and inclusion
February 3, 2022 | 6 min read
Charles Schwab believes building a culture of diversity and inclusion is a powerful way to expand access and opportunity for the colleagues it hires, the investors it supports, and the communities where it operates.
Schwab was founded on the belief that our industry should be more inclusive. In 2021, the firm worked to deepen its commitment to diversity and inclusion focused on four dimensions:
Inside: programs aimed at supporting employees at Schwab
Outside: programs aimed at supporting our clients and local communities
Today: programs that create immediate impact
Tomorrow: programs that create impact over time
In 2021, Schwab expanded its efforts with four new diversity and inclusion programs focused on key issues across financial education for under-resourced communities, career development for college students of color, mentorship for employees of color, and research about the needs of Black investors.
Schwab is proud of the progress it’s seen to-date through these programs, expanding support for underrepresented individuals and local communities, fostering a more inclusive environment and increasing opportunities for employee growth and community involvement.
Helping close the financial literacy gap
To help level the economic playing field for teens across the country, Schwab introduced its newest financial literacy program, Moneywise America, which aims to make high-quality financial education available to schools and communities across America.
The program focuses on reaching youth in under-resourced schools and communities and was launched with two primary components:
A corps of Schwab-employee volunteers who receive best-in-class training that develops their competence and confidence to teach teens essential financial literacy concepts and skills.
A standards-based financial literacy curriculum designed around helping teens reach their individual life goals.
“Our goal with Moneywise America is to help every teen achieve financial freedom,” said Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of Charles Schwab Foundation and managing director of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. “We want to close the financial education gap most schools struggle to address by providing a standards-based curriculum along with trained employee volunteers to teach it, and offering it for free to schools and communities across America."
While Schwab only announced this program in mid-September, the firm is excited about its early progress: By year end, nearly 1,000 Schwabbies enrolled in first-level financial education training and more than 3,200 teens attended a Moneywise America session.
“This is an amazing effort from Schwab that will change the future of a lot of young Americans. I could not be prouder to be a Schwabbie,” said one employee who has participated in the program.
Partnering with Ariel Investments to better understand Black investors
There’s a significant investment gap between Black investors and their white counterparts: In 2021, 55 percent of Black Americans said they were invested in the stock market, significantly lower than the 71 percent of white Americans who said the same.
This was just one of many important findings from the Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey, which was relaunched in 2021 to better understand and generate awareness of the issues facing Black investors and the impact of the pandemic.
“Black Americans want to walk into a bank or investment firm and see people from different walks of life. That makes people feel more comfortable and engaged,” said Kelly Johnson, a fixed income portfolio manager with Charles Schwab Investment Management. “Increasing diversity within the financial services industry will encourage more people to save and prepare for their futures. By working with trusted advisers such as employers, community organizations, and faith-based groups, we can reach more people who need and want financial advice.”
These findings come at an important moment. While the past two years of the pandemic have created financial hardship for many Americans, it’s been particularly challenging for Black Americans. For example, many have had to borrow from their retirement funds, dip into emergency savings and ask family or friends for financial support nearly twice as much as white Americans. This threatens to widen the already expansive wealth gap facing Black Americans.
Creating awareness of these issues is vital, and Schwab is encouraged by the attention the Ariel-Schwab Black Investor Survey has received and the conversation it’s generated: Media coverage of the survey was widespread, and more than 1.29 million people engaged with social media content about the findings.
Strengthening the diverse talent pipeline
Schwab understands that our workforce and leadership must reflect the investors it serves and the communities in which it works.
This year, Schwab launched the Charles Schwab Foundation Scholars in Financial Planning, a $3.5 million endowed scholarship program that offers financial assistance and career opportunities to college students from underrepresented communities.
The program awarded a total of $80,000 in scholarship funding for the 2021-2022 academic year to eight students in financial planning programs at seven participating universities.
For recipients, the opportunity to help diversify the field is significant. “When I learned I got the scholarship, I felt amazing, so very happy,” said Teal Powell-McKinzie, a financial planning major at Texas Tech. “By getting a degree in financial planning and obtaining my CFP license, I aspire to be a living example that will inspire other people of color to do the same – they’ll see that if I can do this, they can too, and we’ll achieve more racial diversity in the financial planning industry.”
By encouraging participation in financial planning programs and offering professional development opportunities and mentorship, Schwab can increase students’ awareness of and access to a diversity of career opportunities in the financial services industry overall.
Creating career opportunities for colleagues of color
While bringing more diverse talent into financial services is critical, equally important is fostering a corporate culture that is both inclusive and creates growth opportunities for talent.
Schwab’s new formal D&I mentoring program offers colleagues of color the opportunity to pair with mentors from senior and executive management to receive career guidance, expand their network and leadership capabilities, develop supportive relationships, and prepare them for career growth opportunities.
As of 2021, 450 employees have participated in the program as a mentor or mentee.
Nearly 90% of mentees believe it’s a valuable experience, and 83% credit the mentorship program as having a positive impact on their career development.
“My mentor and I explore what I need to do to advance my leadership capabilities, what success looks like at the next level, what skills are critical, and how I can build them today,” says Rod Willett, a mentee. “I want to know how I can be a better leader for Schwab, today and tomorrow.”
Increasing inclusivity through ERGs
Schwab recognizes and celebrates the value of diversity and inclusion every day. Through both the corporate led programs and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), Schwab continues to build a culture where all colleagues feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.
With support from ERGs, Schwab celebrates employee heritage, supports LGBTQ+ inclusion, embraces all abilities, and recognizes the contributions of veterans.
Since 2018, ERG participation has increased 157 percent. Today, Schwab supports 10 ERGs with more than 150 local ERG chapters, and over 35 percent of our employees are members. Additionally, Week of Belonging activities this year marked an important growth milestone – to over 350 ERG leaders and sponsors and over 12,000 ERG members. “Schwab honored this accomplishment by acknowledging we’re stronger together, united in our mission to celebrate our unique identities and committed to building a community where everyone can be their authentic self, whether client or employee,” said Rob Mundell, head of Talent Solutions at Charles Schwab.
Schwab is proud of its efforts so far, but the firm knows there is still more work to do. As an organization, Schwab is committed to continuing and increasing its efforts to deepen inclusion both internally and within society.
To learn more about diversity and inclusion at Schwab, visit AboutSchwab.com.
IndustryWhen opportunity knocks, who answers?
From knocking on doors to piloting innovation, Sarah B. shares her story of navigating the financial industry and a chance meeting she won't forget.
Culture, CommunityExpanding financial access through listening, learning, & partnership
See how Alvin O., a Schwab Community Development Group member, finds opportunities to better reach and serve Black & Hispanic investors.
Community, IndustryCelebrating ‘Scholars in Financial Planning’ award recipients
Meet the students in financial planning programs at seven universities who have received one- and two-year scholarships of approximately $10,000 per year.