June 23, 2021
Roger C. Hochschild
President and CEO, Discover Financial Services
Suzanne P. Clark
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are priorities for businesses across the nation. Discover Financial Services leads the space in DE&I; acting as a “best in class” case study for other companies passionate about building a diverse workforce, equity in pay and career advancement opportunities and inclusion in the workplace to the community at large.
Discover’s Concrete Examples of Vision and Commitment That Turned to Action
Roger C. Hochschild, president and CEO of Discover Financial Services, noted that DE&I is not only the right thing to do, but it is also better for business, as diverse teams tend to make more effective business decisions.
Discover has been focused on DE&I for some time and has been investing in initiatives to bridge these gaps.
“We've ensured there's pay equity for women and minorities,” Hochschild said. “We signed a pledge with a group called the Chicago Network to increase representation of women at all levels of the company to 50% and to increase the number of Black and Latinx managers, and we're proud that we've had a perfect score on the corporate equality index for the last eight years.”
Additionally, Hochschild continued, Discover aligns their charitable giving with their DE&I efforts.
Bringing Opportunities to Underserved Communities
When Hochschild attended Ibram X. Kendi’s presentation on How to Be Antiracist, it gave him clarity, demonstrated that being active, not passive, creates meaningful change. It inspired him to consider how Discover can contribute to a solution.
“It got me thinking about the traditional corporate site selection process,” he said. “If you think about a company and a team looking for a new location, they … say, ‘Well, let's go where there's a highly-educated workforce with great schools and low crime rate, good transportation, good infrastructure ... All of these perpetuate the unequal opportunity in our society.”.
“So we decided that we would do our part to break that cycle and open a new customer care center in an economically challenged area right here in our hometown of Chicago,” he continued. “We were guided by Chicago mayor, Lori Lightfoot … [to] Chatham. It's got a strong sense of community, dedicated businesses and people committed to economic revitalization.”
The Chatham Project’s Positive Effects on Discover and Chicago
For Hochschild and Discover, the Chatham project, set to create nearly 1,000 full-time jobs, has already paid dividends for their investment.
“The first thing is just the business value and the quality of the people we're hiring,” Hochschild said. “We expected to find great talent in Chatham that just needed an opportunity, and it's been even better than we expected.”
Existing employees of Discover share Hochschild’s excitement.
“It's a tremendous source of pride for all of our employees, and we've had countless volunteers from every part of the company all across the country volunteering to fly in to work as coaches and trainers because they so much want to be a part of this effort,” he said.