July 2020

What We At Jefferies Have Learned From Living With Covid For Four Months

Dear Clients and Employee Partners:

We are six months into the calendar year and for the last four of these months, we have all been living with the realities of Covid. These can be incredibly stressful, complicated, scary and uncertain times for each of us, as well as our families and friends. We would like to share with you some of our thoughts as we deal with Covid personally and at Jefferies, and hopefully provide some perspective and balance as a counterweight to the incredibly long list of horrors associated with this disease. While Jefferies is performing admirably during this period and we cannot thank our clients and our team enough, there is no doubt that the experience is taking a toll on every one of us. After we share our broader perspectives, we are including an appendix showing the types of events, classes and discussions that we have been hosting for our team at Jefferies during this period. Our goals in sponsoring these are to help each of us preserve our sanity, maintain our strong cultural bond to each other, improve ourselves and our firm, and allow us to be stronger, smarter, more diverse, and better people/partners when the sun eventually shines brightly again, which it will. While participation in these events internally has been fantastic, with nearly half of Jefferies participating, we are sharing the breadth of topics/programs with our employee partners so as we continue through the summer, we encourage everyone at Jefferies to participate, without exception. We are sharing this with our clients in the hope that if any of you would like to talk with us about what we are doing and perhaps incorporate some of these themes into your own organizations, you know we are here to share everything with you. As always, we welcome feedback and ideas from both our clients and our employee partners on any of your ideas to help us better navigate Covid and emerge stronger, smarter, wiser and kinder on the other side.

To say the least, Covid has been an eye-opener. The challenges of living in a pandemic world these past four months are disruptive, sad and at times overwhelming to even the strongest of people. That said, four months is enough time to gain insight and perspective into what positives can develop when the world is given a mandatory timeout or reset:

  1. If there was ever any confusion about priorities before Covid, they should be pretty darn clear today. Family, loved ones, friends and health are all that matter in life. Regardless of what else is happening in the world, if this circle is intact, almost everything else is bearable.
  2. If you don’t have passion for what you do for your career or the people you work with, either fix the situation or move on. Now that we all see how fragile everything truly is, there is no excuse for not believing in what you do, especially since you are devoting such a huge chunk of your life to it. You need to be passionate about your career at a company you believe in, and surround yourself with people you respect.
  3. When you are not caught up in the historically normal non-stop treadmill of daily frenetic action and instead are physically isolated from the rest of the world, this can be the best way to open your eyes fully to absorb what is going on around you in terms of prejudice, inequality and social injustice.
  4. We now know how much we want, need and rely on direct human contact. A warm hand shake from a trusted client. A hug from a friend that you are so happy to see. A high five from a likeminded stranger at a sporting event. A kiss on the cheek from someone dear. People need these warm connections and there isn’t one of us who will ever take these opportunities for granted ever again.
  5. It is now more apparent than ever how many people work so hard every day to make your life more pleasant, manageable, safe and comfortable. These everyday human heroes include delivery people, healthcare providers, waiters, waitresses, busboys, flight attendants, teachers, police and firefighters, check-out people, office cleaners, transportation workers, retail sales people and the list goes on and on. This reset must result in a kinder and more appreciative attitude to these wonderful people who are truly in the front lines of making the lives of so many others better. Kindness needs to be supplemented with fairness in sharing the wealth.
  6. It is very easy now for everyone to better see and appreciate the fragility of the many institutions that are so important to our way of life. Universities, philanthropic institutions and state infrastructure (police, fire, education and hospitals) are all currently operating in the danger zone. Commerce creates wealth, and the tax system and philanthropy helps to rightfully redistribute it. We all have our role to play and it should never be more clear that paying (and donating) your fair share is not only a requirement, but also a privilege.
  7. Working from home can be a tremendous breakthrough that will have positive implications long after the demise of Covid. It also can become exhausting, debilitating, lonely and the source of emotional duress. Like everything in life, a proper balance when the world allows will result in greater productivity, increased flexibility that should improve work-life equilibrium, broader choices in home locations, and the ability to have more diversity in the workforce based on the increased ability to be productive without leaving the house.
  8. It is more clear than ever that working at a company is a very important role in society. It doesn’t matter if it is big or small or in which industry. When you responsibly contribute to a good company, you are helping all your co-workers that are counting on you to protect their jobs. You are also serving deserving clients and earning returns for the real people who are investors and stakeholders. When you do your fair share of work with pride, especially during a crisis, you are an integral part of keeping the economy going and allowing your coworkers to thrive monetarily and emotionally. It is very easy during good times to lose track of how important this is. When people all around you are losing their jobs, it couldn’t be clearer.
  9. Even those with the best physical stamina and the strongest mental toughness can become depleted, fragile and a shell of themselves after a prolonged period of stress. It is critical that everyone recognizes and accepts this reality and has the courage, conviction and self-confidence to speak up when needed and force themselves to detach completely from time to time to refresh. Doing this in times like these are a sign of strength and not weakness. Being aware of others in need of a break and intervening to help, can make all the difference in the world.
  10. In times of stress, true character always shines. That’s when it is easy to look around and see the people who are helping to bring along and support those who are having a tougher time and may be truly in emotional, monetary or physical distress. It doesn’t matter if these are family members, longtime friends, new acquaintances or outright strangers. The help can be material, or just a subtle act of kindness. The magnitude doesn’t matter, but the intent and result are capable of restoring the belief and appreciation in humanity.

In partnership for the duration and working with each of you with pride,

Rich and Brian

 

RICH HANDLER
Pronouns: he, him, his
CEO, Jefferies Financial Group
1.212.284.2555

[email protected]
@handlerrich Twitter | Instagram
BRIAN FRIEDMAN
President, Jefferies Financial Group
1.212.284.1701

[email protected]
 

 

Appendix

Given the sequester of our 4,000 people around the globe, there is no better time to focus on Employee Development, Culture, Philanthropy, Inclusion and Diversity. The state of the world has afforded us the time, technology and motivation to connect with our people efficiently on a variety of topics. Our goal is to continue these programs (that were all started before Covid) and continue this investment in our team in perpetuity:

  1. Jefferies Global Coronavirus Relief Charity Day: On May 27th, in memory of Peg Broadbent, we rallied together and, with the support of our clients, we raised $9.25 million for Coronavirus Relief. These donations were sent to over 85 charities helping those on the front line battling this horrible disease. We have not only persevered and shown our true colors, but have also shown how a global firm can truly act as one.
  2. Connecting with Employees via Zoom: Since the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, we realized that staying closely connected to our employees, sharing information, and engaging in candid Q&A was of the utmost importance. As a result, the two of us, and our Division Heads, have been hosting Zoom discussions on a regular basis with our employees across all title levels and across all geographies. We also hosted a Town Hall meeting on June 30th for all of our employees globally where we discussed our 2nd quarter performance and how proud we are of our employee-partners for their tireless efforts navigating through this challenging period. Another way we have been staying connected is through our Fireside Chat Series. To date, eight of the world’s leading CEOs have been interviewed as part of this Series, all of whom have shared their own leadership journeys and have truly been a source of inspiration. These sessions have included Steve Schwarzman, Chairman and CEO of The Blackstone Group, Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc., Dave Ricks, Chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company, Larry Culp, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, General Stanley McChrystal, former Commander of U.S. and International Forces in Afghanistan, Tom Joyce, President and CEO of Danaher Corporation, Robert Smith, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, and Darius Adamczyk, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell.
  3. Firmwide and Divisional Forums: Throughout the month of June, 1200+ employee-partners attended sessions hosted Firmwide and across divisions to discuss the global unrest surrounding the tragic and untimely deaths of George Floyd and so many others. Leaders from Jefferies Network of Black and Latino Employees (J-NOBLE) and Jefferies Ethnic Minority Society (JEMS) reminded us that we have the power to impact our own personal spheres of influence, and that we must each stand up as individuals and as a Firm to make a difference to this systemic issue. During these Forums, many employees raised concerns about raising and empowering anti-racist children. To address these questions, J-NOBLE and JEMS co-sponsored an event with Dr. Yvette Joy Harris-Smith, co-author of the ABCs of Diversity: Helping Kids (and Ourselves!) Embrace our Differences, to provide employees with the tools to speak comfortably about race with our children and each other. OneJef contains a list of resources that were compiled by the team to support these discussions.
  4. Wellness Webinars: The mental well-being of all employees has been and continues to remain a top priority. We have hosted many sessions on a variety of topics since March with leading experts Neelu Kaur and Dr. Alex Cutting. The sessions conducted have been focused on Remote Working, Mental Agility Through Mindfulness, Gratitude Through the Pandemic, Managing Triggers, Managing Loss and Resilience, and most recently Supporting Children and Teens Through the Pandemic. All of these sessions are intended to support you and your families, and made available to access on-demand here.
  5. United with Pride: jMosaic+’s inaugural pride month celebration, tagged United with Pride, was dedicated to all individuals that are underrepresented, not just those in the LGBTQ+ community. Employees across regions came together and participated in a number of events: a 5K fundraiser to raise money for two organizations that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19: SAGE & AKT, Allyship Training, and Virtual Happy Hours that included Pride Month Trivia. Additionally, to promote inclusivity, we launched a campaign to display pronouns in our email signatures. Reach out to the jMosaic+ team for more information on how you can participate.
  6. Allyship Training: Learning how to be an Ally is a critical step towards inclusion and we continue to strive to be a culture where all employees are able to bring their full selves to work. 500+ employees (including one of us) learned to focus on intrinsic motivation, embrace discomfort, amplify the conversation, and most importantly, advocate for equality by speaking up and taking action. We should all continue to intentionally promote inclusive behavior and intervene when we observe biases occurring.
  7. Launch of jVETS: This month we are proud to announce the launch of our newest Employee Resource Group, jVETS: the Jefferies Military Veterans Network. jVETS will be focused on building a pipeline of veterans at Jefferies, building a community of peers who understand the military to private sector transition, and supporting external veteran-related organizations. The inaugural event will take place virtually on Thursday, July 9th and will feature David Silverman, an entrepreneur, best-selling author and former Navy SEAL, who will discuss lessons learned on the battlefield that are increasingly relevant in corporate America. Registration details will be sent out soon.
  8. Employee Resource Group Mentoring Program: As part of our continued commitment and investment in the professional and personal development of our employees, the Diversity Council sponsored the launch of the Employee Resource Group Mentoring Program Pilot. 320+ employees received training on how to be effective mentors and mentees and will participate in this six-month program with development opportunities along the way.
  9. Jefferies Women’s Initiative Network (jWIN) Rising Stars Program: 15 Rising Stars from across the globe have embarked on a six-month program that includes leadership training and collaborative discussions focusing on The Art of Influence, Building Confidence, and the Psychology of Time. The program also offers mentoring and networking opportunities with current and Rising Star alumnae.
  10. Tackling Working from Home with Kids: Each of us who are parents embarked on a “new normal” when we transitioned to remote working. jWIN sponsored two sessions to provide working parents with tips on how to balance working from home with homeschooling, taking care of the house, and caring for family. Most recently, a panel comprised of four London employees discussed their thoughts on self-care, working from home with an infant, and drawing a line between work and family time.
  11. Personal Development: Staying Seen When Working Remotely: J-NOBLE hosted a panel event to discuss practical ways to advance your career while working remotely. jWIN hosted a session with Fixed Income Management to discuss tackling the mid-year review process remotely. Additionally, all of Research participated in a training on how to Give, Receive, and Solicit Feedback. We are focused on making sure that each employee is able to continue to develop their careers during this time.
  12. Cross-Divisional Training: In an effort to foster an environment focused on ongoing learning and development, we’ve continued to hold a number of trainings specific to each division. In Investment Banking, our Associates, VPs, and SVPs continue to take part in a robust training curriculum facilitated by our own Managing Directors, as well as external experts. In Investment Banking and Global Markets, employees have received training on How to Communicate with Impact Virtually led by Mary Civiello, former NBC News Anchor. In Corporate, managers are continuing their participation in the Manager Training Curriculum having recently participated in a session focused on Managing and Leading Change in this virtual environment.
  13. Coursera: As it’s imperative we continue to stay motivated to learn and build new skillsets, we’ve rolled out Coursera, a digital learning platform, which has over 3,000 on-demand learnings. One of the many pathways is focused on employee resilience and includes topics such as remote working, adaptive leadership and management, communication, innovation, and digitalization.