Family support helps nurture culture at a leading financial company

SEI CEO Ryan Hinke

Founded in 1968, technology and investment solutions provider SEI has a mission to build brave futuresSM through the power of connection. Sitting at the center of the financial services industry, SEI manages, advises, or administers approximately $1.3 trillion in assets* across its client base—and is positioned to connect all components of the ecosystem in a way that others can’t.

But clients aren’t its only focus; SEI recognizes that it has a duty to help its 5,000+ global employees* build brave futures of their own. It’s important to nurture a culture that empowers employees to bring their best selves to work and help drive both the business and their careers forward. And values of courage, integrity, collaboration, inclusion, connection, and fun are at the core of SEI’s cultural foundation.

Facilitating collaboration

SEI’s company culture is designed to facilitate engagement and collaboration. For nearly 30 years, the company has used an open floor plan in its offices. But it also recognizes that it takes more than tearing down the cubicle walls to get full employee buy-in. Marla Carson, SEI’s head of Culture, Engagement, and Inclusion explains the company’s unique approach to engagement.

“We recognize that to be fully engaged at work, we need to offer our employees benefits and programs that make space for innovation, collaboration, and focus. To do this, we have instituted a collaborative design thinking process. We work to get our employees' perspectives and understand their individual needs before we shape and roll out solutions. We may have great ideas, but if they don’t align with our employees’ experiences and needs, they won’t be successful. This process has helped us engage employees, ensure they have the support they need, and then tap into our offerings when they need them.”

Employee engagement is essential to the health of any business. According to a Gallup report, only 34% of U.S. employees are engaged at work. Each disengaged employee costs their employer 18% of their salary annually in lost productivity. With their emphasis on communication and collaboration, SEI gets better insights into what fuels, and perhaps more importantly, inhibits employee engagement. And invariably, one common employee stressor emerges...

A long-standing culture of care

Per Harvard Business Review, caregiver is the fastest-growing employee demographic in today’s workforce, with 73% of all employees having a current caregiving responsibility. Additionally, a growing percentage of the workforce now falls into what’s being called the “sandwich generation,” in which they’re caring for both children and elderly dependents. SEI recognizes that failing to provide adequate care options for working caregivers could have profound negative impacts, both for employees and for its business.

The company opened its Family Center in 1998, providing a much needed and at the time, relatively unprecedented, resource to its growing team of working caregivers. Its purpose – to ensure employees were covered when their regular care provider was unavailable due to inclement weather, emergencies, vacations, or school closures. Each employee can use up to 25 days of back-up care at the center each year per dependent. The center is fully staffed and ready to provide care during work hours, Monday through Thursday. On occasion, the company’s CEO Ryan Hicke will even lend a helping hand. He can be seen reading to children at the center in the photo above. SEI is also sensitive to the increased care needs of new parents, offering employees who have just returned from having or adopting a baby an additional six weeks of “Good Start” back-up care to better support nursing mothers and ease the transition back to work for parents and into care for infants.

The impact of the center is clear and profound for SEI’s working caregivers. One employee says of the center’s value, “Back-up care has saved me, my family, and my job in so many instances. Every time I run into issues with main care, SEI backup care comes in play and saves the situation." For another parent, the center has a big impact on their mental wellbeing: "Knowing that there is a safe environment on site where my children are well cared for gives peace of mind." In fact, an internal survey conducted in 2023 found that 9 out of 10 surveyed SEI employees who use the center say having access to back-up care enhances their productivity at work, reduces stress, and makes them feel more committed to the company.

The Family Center and back-up care program is poised to bring the SEI even more value as employers around the country face a worsening child care crisis. In Pennsylvania, where SEI is headquartered, The Century Foundation estimates that more than 152K children will lose their care and 2,848 child care programs will close as a result of withdrawn government funding. That equates to $480 million less in productivity for Pennsylvania employers and $412 million in lost wages for parents in the state who have to leave their jobs or reduce their hours to cover care gaps.

While the center is a great resource for working parents at SEI's headquarters who need back-up care options, it doesn’t encompass all care needs. With Baby Boomers retiring at a rapid rate, flexibility and diversity of care is a must-have for many employees. SEI responded quickly, expanding its back-up care options to include at-home child and elder care for those who may work remotely or in other offices in the US and globally, and therefore don’t have access to the family care center. By listening to their employees, observing trends, and presenting proactive solutions, SEI grows seamlessly as its employees do, keeping their workforce happy and engaged.

Forever evolving

SEI knows there is always room to evolve its family solutions as employee circumstances change. Part of that ever-evolving mindset includes an enhanced focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Says Carson, “Diverse perspectives are essential to the growth of SEI. We’re an equal opportunity employer and have taken steps to reduce the barriers candidates from underrepresented backgrounds face trying to get a foot in the door of our industry.”

This commitment to adding and elevating new perspectives is perhaps most evident in SEIs employee-run DEI Council and its nine employee resource groups. The council works with SEI’s executive leaders to ensure progress is being made toward its various DEI goals and initiatives, whereas some of the resource groups, including identity-based groups like the SEI Women’s Network, SEI Pride, SEI Salutes (Veterans), SEI Black Professionals Network and Somos SEI, aim to support and promote underserved groups within the community. Others, such as SEI Cares, SEI Green Team, and the Wellness Team, support a variety of passion-based and philanthropic causes. True to its aspirational promise, SEI is always looking at the horizon to build brave futures for its clients, employees, and communities.

*As of September 30, 2023

SEI CEO Ryan Hinke

Subscribe to the On the Horizon Newsletter