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Thought Leaders: Pat David, Managing Director and Global Diversity Officer, JP Morgan Chase

By Melissa J. Anderson

“I’m not interested in diversity as it’s commonly known,” said Pat David, Managing Director and Global Diversity Officer at JPMorgan Chase. “I’m interested in using my life experiences in the context of helping people get to where they want – particularly underrepresented groups.”

She continued, “The way I was raised, my mother said ‘you’ve got to give more than you get.’ And when I look at my career, I’ve had an insatiable appetite to help people. My job enables me to help people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

A Career Helping Others

David began her career at Merrill Lynch, working in technology, then moved to Salomon Brothers where she became a senior technology manager. She explained, “I was fortunate enough to be involved in technology when technology was becoming part of the business – I was in the right place at the right time. I’ve had a career that has moved at a steady pace, and very little of that was my doing. I’m a little in awe at times with how far I have come with so little to start!”

“Sometimes I think, imagine if I had really focused on it. I’ve had really positive experiences – I came in to work and really delivered and was chosen for top assignments. But I didn’t really apply any career management until later on. What if I had done this earlier?”

David continued, “I moved out of the technology organization and into the diversity function about seven years ago. When you work in technology, you come in every day and focus on  three things: you build quality bullet proof products, you deliver them at a good price point, and you make sure they work and can scale. When you take a step back, though, part of my job was really about trying to make sure the people around the world working on these technical solutions had the right tools to be the best they can be. And that was 20% of my job.”

Now, as Global Diversity Officer at JPMorgan Chase, she continued, “Today helping people is 100% of my job. Everything I’ve learned about building technology systems, good practices, managing careers – I am able to apply to the diversity function.”

Diversity at JP Morgan

David said that diversity at JPMorgan Chase is focused on creating business value.

“Right now I’m working on our diversity plans, meeting with business heads and HR executives,” she said. “Diversity is playing a major role in our strategy. We’ve really created a synergy and a structure where diversity is good for business, whether that means market share, client penetration, or effective delivery. Diversity is critical to achieving these results.”

She added, “We’re approaching diversity in an organized, pragmatic way.”

For example, she said, the firm’s program for advancing and retaining women is based on performance.

“Our programs for women are not remediation programs – women are not broken,” she explained. “But we do have several initiatives for attracting and retaining women. Depending on the line of business, the efforts are different.”

For example, David described a program designed to boost female vice presidents. “We identify top talent at the VP-level and make sure they have the right support structure so they move at the same trajectory as men.”

But the women first and foremost have to be top performers, she continued. “We’ve got to hold up the right people to be moved. We need to make sure they get everything to achieve their goals, everything they need to achieve their potential.”

Additionally, she said, the entire financial services industry is asking how it can compete with more flexible career paths.

“We just received the results of an industry workforce diversity survey – and the representation at the entry levels has declined for women. Which leads me to believe that young women are seeing the industry as less attractive,” David said.

“If the financial services industry wants to be more appealing to women, I think we have to ask how many women really want to come to this industry in the first place. There are so many choices now that women have and we’ve got to compete with that, we are not the only game in town,” she said. “We want to be a competitive industry and there’s a lot to compete with. For example, the industry may not be as flexible as other industries – the markets are open all the time around the world not just from 9-5.”

In Her Personal Time

“I like to do crossword puzzles,” David said. “It’s one of the few things I can do where it’s just me. I’m in meetings and conferences almost all the time. Sometimes I need quiet time!”

David said she also enjoys helping her two college-aged children plan for their next career steps. “I’m working to help them make the right choices for their careers, and I also enjoy helping their friends when I can with some coaching.”

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