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To Contribute to Economic Growth, ‘You’ve Got to Invest Deeply in Your Culture,’ Panel Says

By Crain’s Content Studio

Key Takeaways: 

  • Since the pandemic, limiting employee attrition is key and to do so, companies must recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to work. 
  • Some companies, like the New York Stock Exchange, are opting for vaccine mandates 
  • Diversity and sustainability are priorities in today’s economy. However, challenges still remain when it comes to diversity in companies – as of last year, an overwhelming 82.5 percent of directors among Fortune 500 companies were found to be white. 
  • The panel had differing views on inflation rates in the next year: Tuttle said he thinks interest rates will normalize at some point, Ford predicted they will remain the same, and Farner expressed that he’s concerned. 

There’s no question that the last 18 months have been a learning process for even the most successful companies nationwide. During a live session on Tuesday, Sept. 21 at the Mackinac Policy Conference, Suzanne Shank, president and CEO of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC spoke with Jay Farner of Rocket Companies, Harold Ford Jr. of PNC and John Tuttle of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on how they’ve adapted during this period of economic ups-and-downs. 

“A lot of companies have seen themselves grow in ways they never thought they could and frankly may not have had it not been for the pandemic,” Ford said.

The three panelists shared how their companies abruptly shifted from primarily in-office work to work-from-home. As vaccines have become more accessible and in order to retain employees, they’ve added flexible, hybrid schedules.

“We can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to managing our workforce,” said Tuttle, the New York Stock Exchange’s chief impact officer. “We’re going to bring it down to the manager level and say, ‘what is the best mix of in-the-office, out-of-the office for you to be successful to not only attract and retain the top talent, but deliver the performance that our clients expect?’”

During the pandemic, cryptocurrency came to the forefront of fin-tech conversations. Both Farner and Tuttle echoed Ford’s statement that financial institutions need to find a way to get comfortable with cryptocurrency, because it’s likely here to stay.

“If you would have told me five years ago that we’d be talking about cryptocurrency on Mackinac Island, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Farner, the vice chairman and chief executive officer of Rocket Companies. “But here we are, and exactly to Harold’s point, it’s not going away.”

Fulfilling pledges to diversity was also a major part of the conversation. Ford discussed how PNC is paving the way in this area by launching a purpose-driven SPAC focused on empowerment and inclusion, while Rocket Companies’ board of directors includes three women and two people of color.

Shank also mentioned that the leadership on the New York Stock Exchange is more female-driven; it has come a long way since 1967 when the first woman was given a seat on the exchange.

“I love what Harold and his team are doing … they’re identifying a challenge or an opportunity, and saying, ‘you know, we’re going to put our money where our mouth is, we’re going to find people, we’re going to find companies and people that believe in what we’re doing,’” Tuttle said.

This session is sponsored by PNC.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.