John Schlifske is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at Northwestern Mutual
In the midst of a very important national conversation about the impact of racism – particularly in the Black community – I want to share our commitment to fighting racism and discrimination in all forms and taking sustainable action. I cannot state emphatically enough that our organization cannot – and will not – tolerate racism, prejudice, or discrimination in any form.
This is an important issue for all of us – and as the leader of Northwestern Mutual, it’s very important to me personally. Our company was founded on the principles of putting people before profit, doing the right thing, and having a culture of respect, inclusion, and equity – and we are committed to following through with action.
As a company, we take a strategic and long-term approach to this topic in a way that fights racism and works to drive sustainable change. Through focused action, we have steadily increased the number of people of color in our workforce and field (7+ years running). We have supported this with efforts to build an inclusive culture through resource groups, development opportunities, and more. In our hometown of Milwaukee, we have supported local neighborhoods where residents are predominantly Black and Hispanic – and our foundation has granted $26M dollars to sustained efforts within these neighborhoods to improve housing, education, and safety. Most recently, we announced a $1.6M commitment to provide scholarship, internship, and job training opportunities to diverse students in Milwaukee – and to help build a diverse talent pipeline in our company and community. While we recognize that we’ve made progress, we know there is more to do.
It is in this spirit that we recently released a statement of our commitment with clear endorsement of the senior leadership team, our African American employee resource group, our African American field advisory group, and our field associations. We have engaged the organization in company-wide dialogue and offered learning opportunities. We have also created a new task force – Sustained Action for Racial Equity – that is taking a holistic look at additional actions that can have the greatest impact both internally and externally. I am personally chairing this task force, which includes a diverse group of individuals including members of our senior leadership team, employees, and financial advisors. There is no doubt that we will continue to make significant investments in programs that push us forward. Along the way, we will do this with an eye to measurable impact and follow-through – ensuring our efforts make a difference.
I’m deeply concerned about the existence and pervasiveness of racism in this country, but also very grateful for the many employees, leaders, and financial advisors who continue to rally together and push for change. This is critical work – and we’re firmly committed to driving action.