American Express is shoring up its diversity efforts with the newly created position, vice president of global diversity and inclusion. And the multinational financial services corporation has hired Latraviette Smith, former SVP of global communications for Edelman, to fill the role.
"I am thrilled to have joined American Express during this time when global diversity and inclusion already has such a strong foundation and has been transformational in its integration throughout the organization," she says. "In my new role, I look forward to taking a global look at our diversity and inclusion strategy and working with an international team to embed best practices throughout the company. Specifically, I will oversee our diversity and inclusion work in Europe, Asia and Australia, as well as a range of our global talent segmentation initiatives–including women, African-Americans, and international ethnic minorities. In addition, I will lead our global diversity and inclusion market initiatives in which our patent-pending Diverse Marketplace Intelligence program drives marketplace growth for key customer segments."
Smith has already started to work on the company's next three-year global diversity and inclusion strategy. She oversees a variety of strategies, including advancing career opportunities and talent investment for women and African-Americans within the company, as well as programming around international ethnic minorities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Additionally, Smith heads the company's diverse marketplace intelligence program.
"I’ve joined the American Express Global Diversity and Inclusion team at a pivotal time. We are transitioning from our current three-year strategy, which has generated significant results across the organization, to the next chapter in our journey," explains Smith. "Moving forward, the focus will be on how we build on this foundation and evolve this strategy to increase the momentum and further position diversity and inclusion as a function to support the American Express brand–and to drive our business."
It is only good business sense for American Express, an international company, to focus on global diversity and inclusion. The company’s initiative extends not only to its customers and community relations but within its own workforce as well. In fact, the number of minority employees in the company’s workforce has increased by 8.5 percent over the past decade, making up 36 percent of its U.S. workforce. And, 66 percent of its employee workforce and 53 percent of its leadership executives are female.
To promote its diversity goals, American Express launched a variety of new diversity Web-based training and leader debrief modules.
"American Express recognizes that to be a more effective organization, diversity and inclusion must be prized at every level of the company. When our talent reflects the world around us and the communities in which we operate, we are able to better understand the nuances of different markets and cultures—and their needs," says Smith. "Thus, we can provide them with the exceptional service that our customers expect, as well as gain the market insights we need to grow our business and enhance our bottom line."