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Mastercard’s Chief Inclusion Officer Shares 5 Adaptable DEI Strategies

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 Headshot of Randall Tucker, Chief Inclusion Officer, Mastercard.

Randall Tucker, Chief Inclusion Officer, Mastercard. — Mastercard

Why it matters:

  • In the last two years, large multinational organizations made more than 1,000 public diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) commitments and pledged more than U.S. $210 billion to DEI initiatives, inviting increasing accountability for DEI-related promises.
  • Doing diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) well improves company performance, leadership, and employee engagement, according to a 2023 study conducted by Harvard Business Review.
  • Against this backdrop, Mastercard scores high. The company won DiversityInc’s recognition as the top company in the U.S. for diversity in 2023.

Randall Tucker, Executive Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer at Mastercard, looks for reasons to include people by focusing on intersectionality, a concept that acknowledges that individuals might have to work through multiple “intersecting,” potentially marginalizing, factors (being Black and gay, for example). It’s a more holistic view than categorizing them into rigid silos.

And for Mastercard, embracing intersectionality means making room for a wider set of employee perspectives. Take parenting, for example, where everyone brings their own lived experiences to the difficult job. “Whether it’s a Black person or white or someone with disabilities, someone that’s gay or a veteran, they might approach parenting in different ways just because of the lens of life and the experiences they have gone through,” Tucker said. Given that such a collective set of life experiences is valuable, approaching such challenging topics together instead of grouping people into silos helps move the needle on intersectionality, he adds.

Such targeted intentionality in the implementation of DEI initiatives has not gone unnoticed. Under Tucker’s leadership, Mastercard won DiversityInc’s recognition as the top company in the U.S. for diversity in 2023. (DiversityInc is an assessment of diversity management in corporate America). Tucker has been charged with an ambitious agenda: aligning Mastercard’s diversity and inclusion initiatives with the corporate business strategy to ensure that every employee has the opportunity to reach their greatest potential.

Tucker chatted with CO— about the strategies that Mastercard adopts to implement its DEI initiatives as well as the work that remains to be done.

He also shared a few approaches for how companies can implement effective DEI strategies in their own workplaces.

Expand the definition of diversity

First, companies should define “diversity” more broadly, Tucker advised. A narrow definition that includes only African Americans and women, for example, will likely fall short, he said. Instead, track race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, among other metrics. Adding on these inclusion categories also exercises muscles that have traditionally focused only on race, gender, and ethnicity, Tucker said.

Mastercard has developed nine distinct Business Resource Groups (BRGs) that cater to a wide variety of needs, from employees with diverse abilities and invisible disabilities (like neurological conditions) to active and veteran military personnel and women in leadership, to help employees connect and network. Each group is open to all, including allies. Thirty percent of Mastercard employees are BRG members, according to the company’s 2022 ESG report.

Evaluate and set specific collective DEI goals

Set specific goals as the North Star toward which your organization will work. An example: gender pay equity. After being invited to a White House roundtable discussion on the business case for pay equity, Tucker stated that Mastercard is “engaging our entire employee base to help close the median pay gap.” In 2022, the company increased the global median pay for female employees to 94% of median pay for male employees. Women at Mastercard continue to earn $1 for every $1 males earn but the median pay gap exists because there are more men in senior roles, a problem the company is also working to address.

“It’s one of the things that galvanizes us as a company: how do we make sure we create gender balance in our organization? We’re making sure our eyes are on the ball and that the goal does not get lost in any of the work that we do,” Tucker said.

[Read: Why Amazon, Google, and Other Big Businesses Have Launched Accelerators to Help Minority-Owned Startups]


Randall Tucker, Executive Vice President and Chief Inclusion Officer at Mastercard, looks for reasons to include people by focusing on intersectionality, a concept that acknowledges that individuals might have to work through multiple “intersecting,” potentially marginalizing, factors (being Black and gay, for example). It’s a more holistic view than categorizing them into rigid silos.

Move with intentionality

You can’t make DEI work without linking it to the broader company goals, Tucker said. Getting alignment with leadership at the board and CEO levels is key. And with a large company like Mastercard, DEI is not just about what you do but about how you do it. Case in point: customizing diversity and inclusion strategies to different regions of the world.

Inclusion around the world can look very different. It can show up as a focus on gender representation or hiring and retaining talent from new sources. A global company like Mastercard must eliminate a blanket approach to DEI, Tucker said.

Approach positive learning with plenty of examples

If there’s one thing that gets Tucker hot under the collar about DEI initiatives, it’s the focus on unconscious bias training. That’s because the approach tends to assume people are lacking, have deficits, and need to do better, which puts them on the defensive. Instead, use a positive approach, suggests Tucker, “[where] you want to make people feel like they’re adding a tool to their toolkit,” he said. Just like financial acumen, DEI sensitivity can be learned.

New hires at Mastercard undergo two training courses: “Conscious Inclusion and Disability in the Workplace,” which shows how bias can influence behavior, and “Disability in the Workplace,” which focuses on the value of defining individuals for their abilities rather than their disabilities. In addition, employees can take self-paced sessions, such as “Talking About Race at Work,” which are delivered through articles, videos, and guides. In such materials, presenting clear tangible examples of what inclusion looks like is key, Tucker said.

]Read: Top Women Executives from LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Overstock.com on Navigating the Long Shadow of Imposter Syndrome]

Push toward intersectionality

Tucker is pushing to do more. A Black gay man, he understands the need for intersectionality only too well. Not all people fall neatly into any one bucket: many hold multiple identities at once. Perspectives matter. For example, everyone wants the best for their kids but the lens through which a Black person or a white person or someone with disabilities approaches it might be different, simply because of differently lived experiences.

“Where we need to go is to think about intersectionality and how we can start talking about broader topics that everyone can lean on and share their perspective instead of talking in silos,” Tucker said.

Working on reevaluating the BRGs and focusing on intersectionality is only part of the work that Tucker wants to take on to keep Mastercard’s DEI initiatives relevant. At all times, he does not lose focus on what matters: fostering a sense of inclusion among all who work at Mastercard. “It’s about understanding what [DEI strategies] the organization needs and delivering on what that looks like based on the voices of all our [employees],” Tucker said.

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Poornima Apte

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