One company’s journey toward a holistic diversity and inclusion strategy
by Allison Green and Kristen PhillipsMs. Green is the senior vice president, Diversity, Inclusion and Employee Engagement for Lincoln Financial Group and Ms. Phillips is the senior vice president, Corporate Marketing, Communications and Strategy. Visit
In the rapidly changing financial services industry, we have a vibrant multicultural marketplace. The key to remaining relevant is the ability to proactively respond authentically and reflect that environment by being just as multidimensional.
At Lincoln Financial Group, African Americans are one of several different demographics with whom we are striving to build a stronger connection and increase our market presence. Given this, it is important to first share more perspective around our diversity and inclusion strategy, as it serves as the foundation upon which this effort has been built.
A History of Championing Diversity
Lincoln Financial Group is grounded in a history of diversity and inclusion and the values that are embodied in our namesake. We have the unique distinction of being the only company with permission from Abraham Lincoln’s family to use his likeness as part of our brand. That is such a key component of who we are and what we stand for today, and our more than 9,500 employees work hard to embody the principles that were important to President Lincoln, like equality, inclusion and opportunity.
We view diversity as not just a practice, but a strategic focus for our relationships with current and prospective employees, customers and communities. New perspectives allow an organization to grow and deliver on its promises.
Within our walls and as an extension into our markets and community, our company is wholly committed to advancing a culture in which multiple perspectives, varied skill sets, creative insights, diverse backgrounds and different abilities are valued and drive superior results.
We believe diversity of thought, background, experience and people drive innovation, support our growth objectives and produce results that differentiate our company in today’s marketplace. Diversity and inclusion is fundamental and essential to our ability to deliver on our promise to help all customers secure their financial futures.
Beliefs are the path to vision, behavior, and ultimately business execution. The journey of successfully executing comes through an intense focus on the marketplace. A willingness to see our customers as they see themselves, go to the market where they are, and talk with them in the language of caring and respect.
Leveraging Research for Deeper Insight into the African American Marketplace
With a clear vision set for engaging with multicultural markets like African Americans, Lincoln is also focused on augmenting that interaction through insight and data. We have developed multiple research initiatives to continue to understand the African American marketplace, particularly when it comes to financial attitudes and behaviors. These findings enable us to realize areas of strength for the audience when it comes to financial planning, as well as areas where they feel there is a gap that could require more education and specialized resources.
For example, we recently issued the results of our 2017 Financial Focus survey which found that African Americans are more optimistic about their financial futures than any other race/ethnicity. The study showed that 53 percent expect significant financial improvements within the next five years, but debt remains a top concern. With that said, this is an opportunity to start a conversation around topics like the importance of working with a financial advisor, as well as sharing tools and more education to help chart a positive financial future.
Over the last few years, we have also taken this type of research a step further by shining a light on our own customer base to assess market opportunities. We have then augmented that data with secondary research from external sources like LIMRA and other insurance carriers to understand the purchase cycle for diverse markets. Our goal has been to understand the life cycle for different demographics when purchasing a product like life insurance. Specifically, we have looked for any key differences among their unique journeys that would provide the necessary information for us to adjust the way we do business with them, better supporting people throughout that experience.
We gained especially strong insight into the African American population. We continue to ask if we are serving the community in the best possible ways. We are diving into the needs and learning more from the research in order to be nimble and enhance the specific customer experience, one customer and one family at a time. This is an ongoing effort, one that continues to transition into actionable practices. For example, we are making visible, definable changes in how we speak to the marketplace and evolving communities. Our advertising and outreach efforts reflect our vision of all who make up the multidimensional marketplace, and have a special relevance to the African American family.
Watching the Strategy Come To Life
As a result of some of our work in diversity and inclusion, along with our research efforts, the African American family is reflected in our “Responsibility of Love” advertising campaign, social media and other platforms like our website. The campaign displays the precision of our messages about values, beliefs and commitments to our loved ones. Both the commitment and message regarding responsibility of love has been a cornerstone of the African American experience.
It is a natural progression for us to ensure our core values are translated into these mediums where we are connecting with consumers. We are proud to have a full representation of individuals and families in our visuals which reflect inclusiveness.
In conclusion, while Lincoln has made progress in our efforts to understand and connect with African Americans, this is a story that will continue to evolve over time. We believe African American optimism about their financial future is an important opportunity for advisors and we are looking forward to sharing more on the next chapter. ◊