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Catalyst Honors Initiatives at ING USFS and Nissan Motor with the 2008 Catalyst Award

Award winners reflect global marketplace and commitment to advancing women and business

Catalyst today announced that ING U.S. Financial Services (USFS) and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. are the recipients of the 2008 Catalyst Award, the annual award that honors exceptional initiatives from companies that support and advance women in business. This year’s Award-winning initiatives reflect Catalyst’s global perspective and the potential significant impact of women’s talent and advancement to leadership positions in the global marketplace.

“We are pleased to recognize these two comprehensive initiatives that demonstrate the strong business case supporting women’s advancement and diversity in the workplace,” said Ilene H. Lang, President of Catalyst. “Catalyst believes that companies with diverse leadership teams encourage openness and foster innovation. Both of these initiatives provide their companies with a competitive business advantage in today’s global marketplace, and inspire and encourage others to embrace gender diversity in the workplace.” 

The Catalyst Award serves as a call to action to effect positive and lasting change for women and business. As in the past, both of this year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives were evaluated in a rigorous year-long process against an extensive set of criteria: business rationale, senior leadership support, accountability, communication, replicability, originality, and measurable results. These Award-winning initiatives reflect best practices around inclusion and advancement of women to leadership roles and positions of influence. 

ING USFS’ initiative, Beyond Diversity: Building One ING Culture, has created a unifying culture that identifies diversity and inclusion as a business imperative, increased women managers at the top-most level, and become a model for the global organization. In 2001, recognizing the need for change, the company used a transition period of rapid acquisitions and subsequent consolidation to identify the necessary levers for culture change. ING USFS then capitalized on different talents, perspectives, and ideas to increase diversity and inclusion across all of its business locations. The resulting “One ING” culture benefits all employees, with a strategic focus to include women and other diverse groups. The components of the initiative include, among other things, a comprehensive project to uncover employee needs that has led to skill-building initiatives, targeted recruitment, and mentoring programs, as well as an “acceleration” or “deceleration” of up to 10 percent of each business unit’s bonus pool that is linked specifically to performance on diversity measures, judged quantitatively and qualitatively by the CEO. 

Since the initiative’s inception in 2003, ING USFS has increased women’s representation on the senior management team from 25 percent to 50 percent, and currently, two executive women in profit-and-loss roles manage 80 percent of ING USFS business. Two out of three people in the succession pipeline to CEO are women, and the percentage of women in people-manager positions has increased from 2003 to 2007. 

Nissan Motor’s Japan-only initiative, Women in the Driver’s Seat: Gender Diversity as a Lever in Japan, uses diversity to secure business success by increasing women’s participation and contribution in all areas of the business. The business case for having women as decision-makers and in positions of influence within the company was developed in response to research identifying women as influencers of two-thirds of all car purchases. With the support of many senior leaders and champions, the resulting diversity strategy focuses on three areas: engagement, education, and advancement of women. The components of the initiative include, among other things, career advancement support through specialized “Career Advisors” for women only, as well as ergonomic adjustments to equipment and other improvements in facilities and working conditions at plants that allow women to contribute fully. 

The initiative showcases solid increases for women in positions of influence in Japan. Since 2004, women in management positions have increased from 36 to 101 women, and the percentage of women managers in the design, planning, and product planning function has doubled. The percentage of sales people (Car Life Advisors) at Nissan-owned dealerships who are women has increased as well, while the percentage of women in manufacturing plants more than doubled. This is also the first time an initiative from a company headquartered in Asia has received the Catalyst Award. 

ING USFS and Nissan Motor will present in-depth discussions on their initiatives at the 2008 Catalyst Awards Conference at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on April 9, 2008. The conference, which is sponsored by Cadillac, will feature keynote speaker Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc. PepsiCo’s Women of Color Multicultural Alliance initiative won the 2007 Catalyst Award. Later in the evening, the 2008 Catalyst Awards Dinner, sponsored by Shell Oil Company, will be chaired by Kenneth I. Chenault, Chairman & CEO of American Express Company. More than 70 CEOs and leaders of major corporations, firms, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations are expected to attend, along with more than 1,500 guests representing 260 national and global companies. 

For complete descriptions of this year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives and previous Award winners, please visit /page/69/catalyst-award-winners. For more information about the 2008 Catalyst Awards Conference & Dinner, please contact Michael Chamberlain, 646-388-7770, [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Susan Nierenberg, 646-388-7744,
[email protected], Serena Fong, 646-388-7757, [email protected], or Jeff Barth, 646-388-7725, [email protected]. For international media inquiries specifically, please contact Susan Nierenberg.


Founded in 1962, Catalyst is the leading nonprofit corporate membership research and advisory organization working globally with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women and business. With offices in New York, San Jose, Toronto, and Zug, and the support and confidence of more than 340 leading corporations, firms, business schools, and associations, Catalyst is connected to business and its changing needs and is the premier resource for information and data about women in the workplace. In addition, Catalyst honors exemplary business initiatives that promote women’s leadership with the annual Catalyst Award.

The Catalyst Award is presented annually to companies and firms with outstanding initiatives that result in women’s career development and advancement. Catalyst’s rigorous, year-long examination of initiatives and their measurable results culminates in intensive, on-site reviews at finalist companies. The Catalyst Award provides the business community with replicable change models that are good for business and good for women. For more information about Catalyst and the Catalyst Award application process, please visit

ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, insurance, and asset management to more than 75 million private, corporate, and institutional clients in more than 50 countries. With a diverse workforce of over 120,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand. In the United States, the ING family of companies offer a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients which include life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits, financial planning, and reinsurance. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves over 15 million customers across the nation.

Nissan Motor Company generated global net revenues of 10.468 trillion yen in 2006. Nissan is present in all major global auto markets selling a comprehensive range of cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles under the Nissan and Infiniti brands. Nissan employs over 180,000 people worldwide. Under the Nissan Value-Up business plan, the company continues to focus on long-term sustainable and profitable growth driven by three commitments: to maintain top level of operating profit margin among global automakers, to achieve global sales of 4.2 million units in 2009, and 20 percent return on invested capital on average over the course of the plan.