A trailblazer for corporate women, Elizabeth Nieto has always been very supportive of diversity and inclusion in the workplace even before she worked in this space. She was one of the founders of Citigroup’s Hispanic Network and the Corporate Center Women’s Organization. In 2013 she received the Women and Society Award by the Cervantes Institute and LULAC.
Elizabeth assumed the role of Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at MetLife in June 2012. She is currently working with MetLife’s CEO and senior management team in the development and implementation of a global diversity and inclusion strategy for the 66,000 employees globally.
Born and raised in Argentina, Elizabeth Nieto, Global Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at MetLife, earned her Master’s degree in Educational Sciences from the University of Buenos Aires. In her first assignment, she worked as a change management consultant which then led to a successful 20- year career at Citigroup in Human Resources. Since then she has worked in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
What are some of the major changes you’ve seen in the last twenty years around opportunities for women advancement?
While I think a lot has changed for women (access to highest level of education, the c-suite and government posts) I still believe we have a lot of work to do. Women are still lagging in most senior levels in organizations particularly in some industries, therefore the private sector has to continue to have a focus on the attraction and development of women.
As a professional woman, what are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job and how do you manage to overcome them?
Getting buy-in…from men and women! Some women could be very cynical given that they believe that we have been at this work for some time. Many times we take two steps forward and three steps back. In many organizations, the progress hasn’t been always sustained. To ensure that the strategy being put in place is sustainable we need to embed the diversity and inclusion practices in the manager’s daily activities. Many men see and understand the importance of providing opportunities for women, and there are still some men who see it as a potential loss for them. More leaders need to be educated to see the benefits to an organization and society of more women contributing.
Working with people, seeing them grow, fostering inclusive environments and facilitating equal access to developmental opportunities. It’s in my DNA to always be on the lookout for better opportunities to help level the playing field for talent of all ages, genders and abilities.
What advice do you have for other women who have unusual (or challenging) career goals?
Form your own board of directors. Don’t take things personally and be resilient. Keep your eye on the big picture and choose your battles.
Give us an example of how you’re currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?
The attraction, development and retention of women globally is a critical success factor for MetLife. A Global Women’s Initiative (GWI) was recently launched to increase our ongoing focus on developing and implementing targeted programs and activities to increase the representation of women in leadership roles globally.
Could you mention one or more women who have helped you get to where you are now?
Ana Duarte McCarthy (Chief Diversity Officer, Citi), Pat David (Chief Diversity Officer, JPMorgan) Meg Rich (retired, head of HR, Citi – O&T) and there were also many men that supported me through my career – including my husband who shares half of the home and family responsibilities with me.
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If you would like to carry on Elizabeth’s message of diversity and inclusion in the workplace,
you can purchase her Red Shoe Movement’s uniquely designed Elizabeth bracelet.[/box]