PBN 2022 Diversity Equity & Inclusion Awards
Financial Services: Marstone Inc.
MARSTONE INC. HAS ALWAYS viewed itself as having an “incredibly diverse workforce,” according to company co-founder and CEO Margaret Hartigan. She also feels that there are ways to help secure that culture and legacy as an organization.
Now, the Providence-based financial services company, founded in 2013 and serving community banks, credit unions and large financial institutions, is turning to outside organizations to help formalize some of its human resource systems and processes.
Nisha Cordero, Marstone’s chief people officer and general counsel, says the company is working with a professional employment organization that gives Marstone a suite of training opportunities and learning resources that the company can leverage.
“For a small business, it’s a huge benefit,” Cordero said.
Cordero welcomes the professional development organization’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion module that discusses basic DEI issues, how to identify and address underlying biases, and how to create more-inclusive engagements and conversations. Diversity and inclusion are, according to Cordero, “part of our DNA; now, we’re looking to formalize this by using tools in a more structured, centralized framework.”
Additionally, Marstone will implement an applicant tracking system to enable the company to expand the network of job boards it can reach in a cost-effective way to create objective job descriptions and to enforce objective hiring decisions.
“We’re in a competitive market,” Cordero said, “and we must know when we are too slow to hire or we are losing candidates. That feedback across the pipeline allows us to evaluate and improve the process.”
Approximately 20 of Marstone’s 33 employees are based in Providence, and can work either remotely or hybrid depending on their individual situations. The company also has a robust internship pipeline. One former intern worked full time for the company for a few years, and now works part time while pursuing a master’s degree. Another summer intern is finishing her senior year in college and working part time at Marstone.
“We groom and develop emerging talent,” Cordero said. “If you stay on, we encourage that growth and collaboration, [yet] we’re astute enough to know that you may pursue other endeavors.”
The company recently engaged with The Mom Project, a national digital talent marketplace that helps connect professional women with employers in order to build a more diverse workforce for women. Marstone has also engaged with FinTech for Action to offer internship opportunities for students residing in underserved communities, as well as participated in the R.I. Office of the Treasurer’s initiative to expose students to financial careers. That program, the company said, led to three summer internships.
Marstone has also explored job training opportunities with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Path Forward, a national nonprofit that helps empower parents and other caregivers to restart their professional careers after spending significant time caregiving.
The company, which anticipates adding approximately 10 employees by December 2023, is also launching a formalized mentorship program, which will be part of the onboarding process for each new employee. Hartigan has spoken on mentorship at Brown University’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, the University of Rhode Island and Providence College, and has mentored other women founders. At Marstone, she mentors employees on a 1-to-1 basis.
“DEI is about creating a nurturing, safe environment where people have the ability to grow and be mobile in their roles,” Cordero said, “with flexibility and opportunities to develop [soft and technical] skills. That’s part of our DEI culture; that’s what makes us stand out.”
By serving businesses rather than individual consumers, Marstone can reach the largest number of individuals, especially with its most recent product, Marstone Maps.
The product, launched in the summer of 2022 and free to individuals whose banks or credit unions offer it, helps consumers consider options for savings and investments and explains compounding interest and the implications of certain types of debt.
“The financial planning platform allows people to explore different life transactions – buying a car, moving out of their parents’ home, setting up a college fund for a child, etc.,” Hartigan said. “With all the data analytics below the surface, the portfolios are designed to have guard rails so even financially innocent people can’t hurt themselves.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect date for the launch of Marstone Maps. It started in the summer of 2022.