As program manager, supplier diversity at Wells Fargo, Tonia Woodbury exemplifies the model of a successful businesswoman. True to herself and the Charlotte, North Carolina, community, she’s involved with several nonprofit organizations. Woodbury took time to speak with rolling out about the bank’s commitment to diversity and inclusion — particularly supplier diversity — as well as the importance of multicultural outreach and mentorship.
How important is diversity to the day-to-day operations of Wells Fargo?
Diversity and inclusion is an integral part of Wells Fargo’s values. We want team members to feel valued and respected. We want to have an inclusive culture that’s open to new ideas — spurring innovation. In my area, diversity and inclusion are also business imperatives that drive how we integrate certified diverse suppliers into our supply chain. All of this gets at the heart of our vision: to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.
What type of inclusion outreach activities has Wells Fargo implemented?
Wells Fargo has a three-tiered diversity and inclusion strategy that guides our efforts in the marketplace, with team members and consumers. Internally, more than 50K of our team members participate in at least one of our 10 Team Member Networks (or Employee Resource Networks), which have chapters across the country. Our Team Member Networks are formed around market and historically under-represented segments, and they provide team members with personal and professional development, mentoring, leadership engagement, and networking and community outreach opportunities. Our networks also serve as valuable resources for fostering business development and innovation, obtaining customer insight, and recruiting team members. In addition, our supplier diversity team manages over 130 external outreach engagements designed to identify certified diverse suppliers to participate in our sourcing process. My role on the supplier diversity team involves connecting diverse suppliers with our business leaders in areas like human resources and marketing.
We’re committed to investing in emerging technologies and innovative solutions to meet the changing needs, values, and preferences of our expanding customer segments. For our communities, we provide education in financial literacy through our Hands on Banking® program. Since 2012, our LIFT programs have helped create more than 13,000 homeowners in 49 communities. Our supplier diversity strategy ensures our sourcing process is inclusive of certified diverse suppliers. Over the past 13 years, we’ve spent over $11B with diverse suppliers. Our goal is to spend 15 percent of our annual controllable budget by 2020 with diverse suppliers, and we’re well on our way to that goal.
What advice do you have for minority candidates when seeking jobs? What should they look for when considering a company?
Make sure you do your due diligence, study and understand the organization you’re considering. You should be part of a company that not only values the things that are important to you but is also dedicated to your professional development, engagement and promotion. I recommend finding a career and company where you can be your full authentic self. Strive to find a company that embraces the gifts and talents you contribute. Wells Fargo has great internship programs and scholarship opportunities, available at http://myfuture.wf.com.
How important are mentors to helping advance one’s career?
Being able to hear about a journey that can give insight and wisdom into your own is priceless. Mentors can provide trusted guidance and offer a broad perspective. I’ve found mentors can give you exposure to new ideas and ways of doing things, help you with a specific development opportunity, and can share insights. It is also good to get a viewpoint from someone who not only has been where you are trying to go but has a totally different background from your own and can offer a different perspective.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would change individuals not being able to handle differences — whether racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic. I would like to see individuals be more willing to listen to understand and act versus reply and accuse.
What inspires you to go to work every day?
What inspires me is being able to serve my community in a way that I didn’t even know was possible! I had no idea this work in supplier diversity even existed, but it’s so important to our local communities. Wells Fargo’s focus on supplier diversity helps develop small businesses and create jobs in our local communities. My career has created so many opportunities to learn, help and inspire others.
As a successful woman, what advice can you give to young professional women aspiring to climb the corporate ladder?
I recommend that young women understand and align their passions early. Have a clear understanding of what you do not want to do and what you would do without getting paid — then your strengths will reveal themselves. When you flow in your strengths and your passion, the money, position, and influence will come without force.