Marsha Jones

An interview with our Chief Diversity Officer

Q: You have long viewed yourself as a change agent. When did you first realize this about yourself, and how has this impacted your role at PNC?

A: After graduating from college with an English degree, I obtained a job as an executive assistant for an entrepreneur who had started a mutual fund business. In this role, I gained financial experience, got registered with the Stock Exchange and realized that I wanted a broader view of Wall Street. I secured a sales role at a small firm and later joined Merrill Lynch, where I stayed for 28 years.

During this time, there were very few women and even fewer people of color in the financial industry. I took on several leadership roles, including Merrill's first African American female branch director, first female National Sales Manager and first African American female regional director. Each of these assignments required me to influence a change in corporate culture. Years later, I was asked to take on a role focused on enhancing the impact of diversity on the organization's workforce performance and also revenue.

When I first joined PNC, my focus was to be a change agent, impacting how the organization could drive revenue through diversity, which adds value and is an integral component of today's business culture. Diversity can differentiate an organization and often leads to greater innovation. Over the past eight years, my team and I have been able to build a program in which business partners from across the bank leverage PNC's commitment to diversity and inclusion for business, talent recruiting, employee engagement, and stakeholder engagement purposes. Our program, which looks at diversity from a workforce, workplace and marketplace perspective, has helped enhance collaboration among business partners and identify opportunities for growth.

Q: Was the company receptive to this program and the changes that it brought about?  Also, what did you learn from this experience?

A: When I joined PNC in 2009 and began to propose new initiatives such as PNC's Employee Business Resource Groups, PNC's D&I Roundtable and PNC's D&I Councils, I found the senior level leadership of the organization to be very collaborative. Recognizing that our company's culture is made up of more than 50,000 employees, big changes come in increments. As a result, it is important to realize that change requires a strategic process. The greatest lesson I learned from my experience is that when proposing major changes to an organization or its programs, it is incredibly important to know when to push and when to pull. And it is always important to listen and be respectful of others’ opinions.

Q: What are the greatest challenges facing corporate diversity and inclusion? How do you and your team plan to address these challenges and seize these opportunities at PNC?

A: Historically, corporate diversity and inclusion programs have been areas that were significantly impacted by the economy. When the market performed well, diversity programs and initiatives were well-funded. During difficult times, however, these programs were often the first to be cut. At PNC, diversity has been one of our core values for decades. We believe that we're at a point now, however, where diversity and inclusion is a critical business asset for the organization, in addition to being a foundational component for a strong corporate culture.

Q: How does corporate diversity and inclusion today compare to that five or 10 ago? What changes have you seen, and how do you expect corporate diversity and inclusion to evolve over the next five or 10 years?

A: There is greater collaboration among business partners, who subsequently perform better and gain a deeper understanding of how their work complements or connects with the work of others. By looking at diversity from a talent, thought, customer and community perspective, we have been able to enhance internal collaboration while also driving revenue.

Furthermore, our business is different today than it was five or 10 years ago. Faced with rising interest rates and heightened regulations, it has become more important than ever before to focus on the diverse segments of our customer base. While we already are seeing significant growth in this area, I expect it to become an increasingly important part of our business.

Finally, we now have shareholders and customers who want to see our commitment to diversity and inclusion put into action. Some of our institutional clients, for example, are interested in the percentage of our business with diverse vendors and some want to know the demographics of the PNC teams assigned to their accounts. Later this year—and for the first time—we will be sharing our Equal Employment Opportunity metrics. This demonstrates our engagement with stakeholders, as well as our progress in increasing our workforce diversity.


Marsha Jones
PNC Chief Diversity Officer


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