DEI Trends in action at Top Auto Lenders

DEI Trends in action at Top Auto Lenders Informed

As a leading provider of financial transparency for the auto industry, we are dedicated to sharing our knowledge and insight to boost the prosperity of communities and lenders we serve. Regarding workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), there are notable trends and insights that support an overall strategy:

Authentic Relationships Drive Diversity

Building authentic relationships and joining groups that align with your values is crucial for successful DEI initiatives. Relationships are the foundation for creating change, especially when it comes to uplifting underrepresented communities.

Mentorship is Key

Mentorship plays a key role in promoting DEI, especially for women and BIPOC students. Women tend to apply for a job only when they meet 100% of the criteria, while men often apply when meeting just 60%. BIPOC students face challenges and tough decisions. Having mentors to guide them unlocks new opportunities that might have been beyond the limits of their imagination.

Continued Focus on Diversity

BIPOC individuals face systematic disadvantages including cultural bias and underrepresentation which must be addressed with intentional policies to create an equitable system. A recent example: On Wells Fargo’s Q4 Earnings call[1], they highlighted their DEI achievements including publication of their inaugural DEI report and spending more than $1 billion at certified diverse suppliers.

Trends in Action:

Also on the Wells Fargo Q4 Earnings call, the company emphasized its efforts in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. They highlighted several accomplishments, including that DE&I Report which showcases their progress and support for underrepresented communities. 

Additionally, Wells Fargo has continued to support employee-focused initiatives such as the Building Organizational Leadership Diversity (BOLD) program and the GLIDE returnship program, with 105 new fellows and an 87% diversity ratio. Furthermore, the company has converted 88% of the program hires into full-time positions. 

All employees have access to on-demand DE&I training. The company aims to support human resources professionals by providing access to top full-time, contract-to-hire, freelance, and executive talent in the market.

In late January at the American Financial Services Association conference in Dallas, Virnitia Hendricks, Chief Diversity Officer at Santander Consumer US, presided over a panel that emphasized the necessity of DEI initiatives in banking. Hendricks is also the keynote speaker for the DEI Luncheon at the upcoming Auto Finance Summit East. 

The AFSA panel discussed the importance of promoting a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. On the panel, Kristin Ritsema, VP DE&I Programs at Santander Consumer, stressed that diversity goes beyond race, ethnicity and gender and that employees, customers and communities are best served by innovative diverse thought leaders.

Ritsema stated “the highest priority for DE&I is going beyond inclusion to ensure people feel safe to learn, safe to contribute and safe to challenge the status quo.” The panelists also emphasized the importance of staying true to the culture and values of the organization while driving change and making a positive impact on diversity in the banking industry.

What is your take?

For HR teams, hiring talent with soft skills is becoming a priority. What is the most important skill you look for in potential hires? How do you address increasing diversity at your organization? Don’t miss the opportunity to share your thoughts and join the conversation on how sponsorship, advocacy, and mentorship are driving meaningful change in the industry. Let’s connect at the DEI luncheon at AFS East in May!


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Jessica Gonzalez Director of Lending Strategies
With more than 15 years’ experience in the financial services industry, including tenures at Santander Consumer USA and Visa, Jessica Gonzalez is now the Director of Lending Strategies at Informed.IQ.