By Sr. Noreen Stevens, Directing Deaconess

With a board comprised of less than 25% women, Northern Trust received an investor inquiry on June 26, 2017 from Boston Common, which our Community signed, regarding Gender Equality and the Women’s Empowerment Principles (see May 15, 2017 Community Newsletter).

On January 25, I shared in a conference call with other investors, Lisa Hayles (Boston Common) and 5 people from Northern Trust, to discuss the letter.

As the conversation began, we learned Northern Trust had just been named one of the “Best Employers for Diversity” by Forbes.

This news framed most of our conversation and generated good energy as we received updated information about their integrated strategy in leadership development.

The energy from the Northern Trust leaders was motivating as they discussed their intentional work in developing a diversity of leadership resources and a focused community development.

Northern Trust celebrated their healthy, sustainable programs which provide family/partner benefits, on-site day care, anti-harassment policies, volunteer time, bereavement leave, and many more benefits.

As I said, there was great energy as they named awards they’ve received and the programs they have that focus on employee sustainability.

However, responses were shorter and delivered with less energy, when Lisa asked directly about the 2 women out of 13 who comprise the make-up of the board.

While board turn-over can take time, Lisa named the urgency in bringing their “integrated strategy” into the boardroom.

During the conversation, we asked for updates to be posted on their website, stressed our expectation for at least 25% gender equality on their board, and highlighted Women’s Empowerment Principles signatories.

Out of this conversation, I am celebrating the intentional work Northern Trust has and is doing to be a “best employer for diversity.”

I am giving thanks for the tireless advocacy work of Boston Common and their invitation to actively engage as investors uniting our voices and resources “for just a time as this” Esther 4:14.