by John Artale
For New Pittsburgh Courier
When Marsha Jones, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at PNC, started her career in financial services three decades ago, she was a trailblazer.
Every one of Jones’ sales management executive positions have been a milestone for African-American women in the financial services industry. “There are countless experiences throughout my career where you notice that something needs to be changed, you ask why it is the way it is, and how you can make it better. You then proceed on a path to do that,” Jones said.
Jones was recruited for her position at PNC three years ago from Merrill Lynch in her native New York, where she was involved in multicultural business development and recruiting. She was ready to take her hard earned life lessons and apply them to a new organization where she could make the climb a little easier for both the employees and the organization.
“Timing has a lot to do with everything,” she said. “We are now on the brink of the impact demographics are going to have, it was natural for me to assume this position and take advantage of the opportunity to make a difference.
“I had the ability to initiate a program from the foundation up and connect it across the entire enterprise, to connect the dots within the organization.”
Vibrant Pittsburgh CEO Melanie Harrington, who nominated Jones, said, “It’s not easy to come to a new city, new organization, and a new role to lead a change management initiative. Marsha has done that and in doing so, she is positioning her organization as a workplace that constantly strives to treat its employees in an exemplary manner.”
The program that Jones promoted is an educational focus called “Creating a Culture of Inclusion.” This training program increases awareness of cultural differences and promotes an environment where employees can appreciate contributions from a diverse group.
“The bank is experiencing generational challenges and this program in diversity training has helped the workforce to better understand its constituents,” Jones said. “We also recognize that in order to be successful we have to be able to develop relationships with those in emerging demographics, to demonstrate how we can be a good business partner for them and be able to meet their needs as customers.”
Jones spent 28 years at Merrill Lynch, and when she started there weren’t many role models.
“I was the only woman, the only African-American woman,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘if not you then who? What can I do to make a difference and be able to change that?’ My success demonstrated that women and people of color can be successful in a financial institution and that success was a result of the inclusive environment that was created in every position.”
Appreciation and regard for others is a way of life that’s been ingrained early in her professional life.
“The ability to treat individuals with consideration has enabled me to be that much more successful in developing relationships with a wide range of individuals,” she said. “An inclusive environment breeds innovation among other benefits. You are encouraging employees to give their best, and they feel an obligation toward the successful outcome of the organization. They are part of it. They have a stake in its success.”
She was recently recognized as a Dignity & Respect Champion. Her response was, “(I’m) Quite pleased. Recognition is always nice on behalf of the work, it is gratifying.”
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