Manulife Financial Corp. has found a way to help its employees recover from the pandemic while also learning from the equity challenges COVID-19 brought to the surface.
On June 18, Toronto-based Manulife gave all 37,000 people in its global workforce the day off. The "Thank-You Day" repeats one from last year and officials there say it has now become part of the culture.
The day before, employees had the firm's first-ever Global Afternoon of Reflection and Learning, as part of Manulife's goal of having a more inclusive workforce and enlisting everyone in its effort to increase diversity, equity and inclusion. The day included webinars, keynote speakers and fireside chats with Manulife executives.
The events were timed to coordinate with Juneteenth in the U.S. and Indigenous People's Day in Canada.
Manulife's Chief Human Resources Officer Pam Kimmet said in a news release that after ramping up DEI efforts last year, the global afternoon of reflection and learning and the thank-you day "allow us to take stock of our progress and devote time to gaining a greater appreciation of the many dimensions of diversity."
Since the firm announced DEI recruitment and leadership goals for North America last year, it has hit several milestones, including financial support and internships for Indigenous students, DEI interview guides for hiring managers, focused recruiting from diverse colleges and universities and hiring initiatives.
The commitment to DEI comes from the top. Performance goals for Manulife's executive leadership team members are linked to diversity, equity and inclusion, employee engagement and leadership accountability. The firm also partnered with Accenture PLC to give all 3,500 leaders worldwide access to two learning platforms on inclusive leadership and fighting racism.
There is more to do, Michelle Taylor-Jones, Manulife vice president for global diversity, equity and inclusion, said in the news release, but "we are taking action and holding ourselves accountable in both the short term, as well as over the long term."