2008 Employer of Choice Award Winner

Northeast Region

Jonathan Feigelson
Senior Vice President and
Acting General Counsel

TIAA-CREF is a national financial services organization with nearly $400 billion in combined assets under management, and the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields.

The corporation heeds its own advice when it comes to diversity. “All smart financial advisers will tell you to diversify,” asserts Stephen L. Brown, the director of corporate governance for TIAA-CREF. “Diversification is not just smart financial advice; it’s a good hiring philosophy as well.”

One of TIAA-CREF’s recent diversity initiatives was its Minority Outside Counsel Networking Conferences, held at the company’s New York City headquarters. Co-hosted with Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Prudential Financial, the purpose of the conference went beyond championing the importance of diversity. At a minimum, each host sent a senior representative from each of its practice groups or functional areas—approximately seven to ten in-house lawyers per company.

“We wanted to get beyond just talking about diversity,” explains Brown. “The conference provided an opportunity to network directly with lawyers in the same industry group because of our partnership with our co-hosts.”

Addressing the corporation’s own hiring policies, TIAA-CREF integrates diversity goals with its business goals. As a company, part of executive managers’ evaluations involves ensuring the presentation of a diverse group of candidates for all positions.

In-house diversity metrics illustrate the company’s success in this area; nearly a third of the Law & Compliance professionals are minorities and women account for approximately 60% of all attorneys and half of the general counsel’s direct reports.

The importance of creating and maintaining an inclusive work environment with TIAA-CREF’s Law & Compliance department is stressed from the top down. This starts with Jonathan Feigelson, TIAA-CREF’s senior vice president and acting general counsel, who is responsible for communicating the commitment to diversity to all members of the department. He also personally reviews the diversity-related performance of members of the law management team to ensure they identify and implement steps to promote diversity. “We have a long history of diversity at all levels,” notes Brown. “The commitment starts at the top, and filters from the board to management to the entire organization.”

Winning the Employer of Choice Award brings recognition to a dedicated company. “The award validates what we have done, and encourages us to continue to promote an environment that fosters respect, integrity, and opportunity for people from a wide variety of backgrounds,” concludes Brown. DB

From the November/December 2008 issue of Diversity & The Bar®

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