Case Study: Gender Inclusion as a Driver of Business Performance at Voya Financial

Voya Financial’s culture was purposefully designed through inclusive practices within talent management, training, and policies and practices.

Whether by design or default, every company has a culture. For Voya Financial, its culture was purposefully designed through inclusive practices within talent management, training, and policies and practices.

Voya helps Americans plan, invest, and protect their savings for retirement. As Voya was planning to spin off from ING and then go public in 2013, many steps were taken to purposefully design an inclusive and high-performing company—one that provides a supportive, diverse, and energetic work environment to achieve meaningful business results. By 2017, Voya received numerous awards and accomplishments since its initial public offering, which can be attributed to its culture of inclusion.

Creating the Purposefully Designed Culture of Inclusion

Continuous Improvement (CI)—a philosophy consisting of tools, principles, leadership behaviors, a management system, and a business strategy, designed to create a new way of working—serves as a catalyst for Voya’s culture. It involves maximizing quality, efficiency, and solving problems in order to improve how to serve customers and strengthen relationships.

The principles of CI are embedded across levels and teams within the organization. Voya’s centralized CI Center team provides coaching, mentoring, change management leadership, and guidance across the company as employees engage and adopt the CI methodology. With the right methodology in place, leadership, managers, and individual contributors are engaged and forward thinking in their approach to creating a culture of inclusion.

To purposefully design a culture of inclusion, Voya considered:

1. Talent Management

  • Equality in leadership opportunities
  • Parity of promotions
  • Established process to internally promote and retain employees who represent different backgrounds
  • Strategic recruiting to reach and attract diverse talent

2. Training

  • Educational initiatives, such as unconscious-bias training
  • Sponsorship of community-related educational opportunities for employees to give back
  • Employee resource groups

3. Policies and Practices

  • Evolving benefit offerings to ensure they cover a broad spectrum of needs
  • Equality in all decisions related to employment, including selection, development, and compensation
  • Reasonable accommodations to facilitate the employment of individuals with disabilities and pregnant employees.
  • Practices free from discrimination and harassment

To help attract and retain a workforce that represents diversity of gender, background, expertise, and perspective, Voya also defined and articulated an employee value proposition—the mix of characteristics, offerings, and associations of working for an organization. Voya’s employee value proposition aligns behavioral expectations with performance efforts across the organization to achieve profitable business results and greater incentives for those who contribute with great value.


Voya recognizes the importance of ensuring that its teams appropriately reflect its communities and customers. As a result of careful planning, by Dec. 31, 2016, Voya had:

  • 44.4 percent female representation on its Board of Directors (independent directors)
  • 45.5 percent female representation on its Executive Committee
  • Women leaders are now responsible for businesses that generate approximately half of our earnings
  • 45.5 percent female representation in management roles
  • 50.2 percent female representation in its overall workforce

A strong culture with inclusive talent helps promote problem solving, continuous improvement, idea exchange, communication, and teamwork and, ultimately, creates value for both the business and the community. Voya has had several notable accomplishments as a result of its purposefully designed, strong, and engaged culture—one that’s recognized from all angles:

Ethical Practices

  • Named one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute for four consecutive years
  • Awarded Corporate Secretary Magazine’s Corporate Governance Award for Best Compliance and Ethics Program in the small- to mid-cap category

Inclusive Culture

  • Received a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (CEI), an annual survey that assesses workplaces on LGBT equality, for 12 consecutive years
  • Recognized in the 2017 Bloomberg Financial Services Gender-Equality Index (BFGEI)¾as one of 52 financial firms¾for a strong commitment to gender parity
  • Named as one of 20 Fortune 500 companies included in the Fortune Knowledge Group’s Gender Diversity Index
  • Honored by the Women’s Forum of New York for board diversity of more than 40 percent
  • Recognized by the New York Stock Exchange as a finalist for the Best Board Diversity initiative

Environmentally and Socially Responsibility

  • Ranked No. 33 by Newsweek Green Rankings
  • Listed on the MSCI Global Sustainability Indexes, which include companies with the highest environment, social and governance (ESG) ratings and strong sustainability profiles
  • Named to globally recognized Dow Jones Sustainability Index, a globally recognized independent benchmark that assesses and ranks the economic, environmental and social performance of companies
  • Recognized on the RE100 list, reflecting 100 percent use of renewable energy
  • Ranked No. 31 among U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership’s list of 78 Fortune 500 partners

Workplace Environment

  • Certified as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute
  • Listed as a Best Place to Work by Pensions & Investments


  • Becoming a Fortune 500 company, with increased rankings annually that shows our staying power as a force among U.S. businesses
  • Ranked No. 1 life insurance company in overall customer satisfaction for the second consecutive year, according to
  • Retirement and Investment Management business earned four DALBAR awards. DALBAR is an independent research firm that evaluates, audits, and rates business practices of financial institutions.

In addition to products and services, our prospective customers frequently consider diversity practices and environmental, social, governance, and other factors to evaluate a company’s reputation, value, and performance. These accomplishments serve as a key reference point for potential employees, employee pride, investors, and customers.

Ongoing and evolving journey

To achieve Voya’s vision to be America’s Retirement Company, the company continues to place diversity and inclusion at the center of its business strategy. Voya’s customer base will continually evolve, and its continued focus on diversity and inclusion directly strengthens our ability to make a secure financial future possible—one person, one family, one institution at a time.

Heather Kleis is senior vice president of Human Resources at Voya Financial, which helps Americans plan, invest, and protect their savings for retirement.

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