By Kate McClaskey

In a time when companies are rebuilding their business models to include a more diverse workforce, financial corporations are paying attention. Black Enterprise magazine recently released its list of the best companies for diversity, a list which consists of companies that the magazine believes have achieved a high level of inclusion of minority individuals – including race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. The Best Companies for Diversity list was made through surveys of the top 1,000 publicly traded companies, focusing on technology, sales, marketing, and human resources. Below is a roundup of BE’s five top financial companies in diversity.

Northern Trust

Named one of the 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers and one of the top 50 Companies for Executive Women, the Chicago based financial company boasts not only an annual Chairman’s Diversity Advocate Award Program which recognizes employees who make contributions to diversity efforts, but Diversity of Work training to encourage work groups to value their people and their contributions.

Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion Mark David Welch promises progressiveness and training with the support of diversity councils. “Northern Trust has long recognized the invaluable role of diversity, and this recognition is a testament to our belief that fostering a globally diverse and inclusive workforce is fundamental to our success as a business enterprise and community advocate.”

The company also gives priority to programs in diverse neighborhoods while offering a broad variety of business groups including Women in Leadership, the TNTPride (LGBT) Community, and the Black Business Resource Council. All combined, this makes Northern Trust an inclusive culture that enables the company to hire and retain a diverse workforce – which Welch says leads to better ideas and innovations and brings out the best in our employees.

Comerica Inc.

Leslie Sabbath, Senior Vice President for Employee Relations of Comerica emphasizes that “diversity is a core value and a key business driver. [It] serves to remind employees, customers and others with an interest in your company that diversity is a priority.”

Besides working under a diversity commitment, Comerica strives to embrace all people throughout its workforce, its community, and its nearby schools by actively recruiting in diverse networks. The company earned a spot on the 2010 DiversityInc “Top 50 Companies for Diversity” list, ranking 45th overall.  In addition, Hispanic Business magazine ranked Comerica No. 1 for Supplier Diversity.  

The company also offers the Comerica Supplier Diversity Program which fosters the growth of small and minority-owned companies across the United States. By assisting these small companies, Comerica not only helps the communities they are in but builds minority suppliers in business.

American Express

Thirty-five percent of this company’s workforce is black, Latino, and Asian while providing 13 employee networks including the Black and Asian Network, the Jewish Employee Network, the Disabilities Awareness network, the GLBT Employee Network, and the Muslim Employee Network. The company also offers benefits for same-sex partners for it employees.

American Express is among the top 50 companies on DiversityInc and has remained on Working Mother’s list of leading companies for women since 2004. The company’s Blue Box Diversity Councils, which are made up of employees at all levels and positions, continuously change and update the company’s overall diversity vision and policy. In addition, they monitor American Express’ progress against other leading companies while managing the best practices. Primary areas of focus include development and environment, supplier diversity and selection and hiring.

Bank of America

DiversityInc’s ninth highest company for overall diversity is also the second highest company for GLBT employees on the list. This company offers a Diversity & Inclusion Learning Curriculum, as well as a variety of groups that plan and implement diversity approaches. The Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) develops and executes company-wide initiatives while the Diversity Business Councils (DBCs) which are made up of 29 separate groups, tackle diversity issues and come up with strategies to fix problems and create a work place that is comfortable to all employees. The company’s volunteer network, Team Bank America, is made up of 50 diversity networks that help organize diversity and cultural awareness activities in the community. These networks are designed to help communicate the importance of diversity within the company from presentations about sexual orientation to exercises in teamwork.

“I can’t emphasize enough just how important—and real—diversity is at Bank of America. For us, diversity is all about inclusion. It’s not just about gender. It’s not just about ethnicity,” says Geri Thomas, the Global Diversity and Inclusion Executive. “Diversity and inclusion means respecting and valuing all nationalities, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, economic and social backgrounds and disabilities. By working with our differences, we can develop innovative products for our customers and a unique environment for our associates.”

Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae has historically been one of the most diverse companies in the financial world. Even as the mortgage bubble burst, they continued to be among the best companies hiring minorities and creating an inclusive work environment. In 2007, the company was in’s top 50 corporations for multicultural business opportunities and last year they were named a notable company for diversity by DiversityInc. Fannie Mae was recognized as one of the 50 Best Companies for Latinas to work in the United States by LATINA Style for 2009 – the eighth year in a row.

Recent estimates indicate that minorities, including immigrants, will account for 68 percent of household growth over the period 2005-2015. Fannie May says it is working not only to save families from foreclosure, but preparing for future homeowners by understanding everyone’s own specific needs. To meet these needs, Fannie Mae’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion develops initiatives to support increased diversity in the financial industry through internships, scholarships, and other programs. The company is also dedicated to finding opportunities that align with corporate efforts aimed at foreclosure prevention and lending in communities of color.