by Laura Shen
As 2022 comes to an end, we wanted to reflect on the growth and development of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts at WEX. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the workplace is constantly evolving — it is a business imperative that doesn’t fit neatly into Human Resources — but spans investor relations, commercial partnerships, procurement, external communications — and every facet of our business. DEI looks different across our global offices and we seek to embrace the richness that comes with operations and customers across all our geographies and cultures. Research — done by organizations like McKinsey & Company — has shown that diverse and inclusive companies have higher revenue growth, more innovation, talented applicants, and higher employee retention. An inclusion culture and dynamic DEI programming fosters a sense of belonging and creates community in large organizations with global operations.
I took on this role of Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer in January. “Always take a new job that no one’s ever held at your company” I thought to myself jokingly — there’s no one to compare me to. The white space and ambiguity — while intimidating at times — was energizing. It allowed me to create a vision and quickly begin executing against that vision. What should DEI at WEX look like now and five years from now? Where do we start? What are the early opportunities that build credibility? What are the larger boulders that we want to move over the longer term?
As we approach the end of this year, I am incredibly proud of what has been achieved by the team and the organization. This all started with listening — across levels, functions, geographies, and tenure — to create an approach that would be authentic to WEX. Some of this year’s accomplishments include:
- Introduced our 2025 DEI Aspirational Goals to achieve (i) gender parity globally in leadership roles and (i) increase the percentage of U.S. leaders of color by 50%.
- Introduced new professional development opportunities to help cultivate diverse internal talent
- Increased accountability for DEI with executive leadership’s annual goals tied to progress on DEI aspirational goals and DEI-specific training for the leadership team
- Showed up in new places and spaces. Attended the National Black MBA Conference, Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Afrotech, Women in Payments Conference, and Go Girl, Go for IT
- Embedded DEI across HR and the business functions. Examples of new DEI initiatives included: Signed the Parity Pledge, hired our first cohort of YearUp apprentices, added Pronouns to WorkDay/Google, new parent initiative, and significant progress on our Supplier Diversity program.
Core to our DEI strategy is our Employee Resources Groups (ERGs). This year, we hosted the inaugural DEI Leadership Summit for ERG chairs to formally support the growth and professional development of these leaders. This time spent as a cohort was invaluable, the conversations were profound, and it provided an opportunity for everyone to be in-person to connect and be present with one another.
Samira Burris, who joined my team in May, explained that the DEI Leadership Summit was one of the highlights from her time here thus far. She manages ERGs, which have grown in membership since the start of 2022. “Through things like WEX blog posts, inclusion in company-wide messaging, and event placement, we've given these groups more face-time with the organization at large, and more external exposure to our customers and prospective applicants. The engagement shown by employee leaders in the DEI space makes WEX a better place to work and a more productive organization - where people feel like they can bring their whole-selves to work.” The WEX ERGs organized and held 30+ internal corporate events with over 5,000 attendees across those events.
Samira is looking forward to many things in the new year, especially the formal launch of a new ERG, the Asian Alliance, which will be the 10th WEX ERG. “In addition, we look forward to continuing to think differently about talent and show up in new places and spaces. Attending new conferences allowed us to broaden our aperture and key learnings and industry best practices. We look forward to continued partnership with our talent acquisition team.”
I’m looking forward to continuing to empower managers and leaders within the organization to create inclusive and authentic environments. Gartner research indicates that 60% of employees view managers as a top influencer of company culture. Therefore, it is critical to train and equip frontline managers. A focus on DEI allows us to create opportunities for growth and learning, and an opportunity as well to have challenging conversations that increase our capacity for empathy and inclusivity.
This is a journey. There’s still significant work for us to do in the months, quarters, and years ahead - and the bar continues to rise. But, I am excited about the momentum we’re building and the organization’s embrace and investment in our aspirations.
Watch the video below to get a glimpse into our inaugural DEI Leadership Summit:
To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page.