For Jennifer Hartmann, VP of People & Culture for San Francisco-based fintech company MyVest, immigration matters because people matter.
In her day-to-day role, Jenn drives key initiatives for MyVest’s infrastructure, company culture and employee engagement. We recently sat down with her to chat about the importance of immigration as part of our #ImmigrationMatters campaign.
“As an immigrant himself, our CEO is very passionate about diversity and all its influence,” said Jenn.
Originally from South Africa, CEO Anton Honikman’s personal experience informs the top-down and all-around diversity and inclusion initiatives for their company.
“One of our key tenets here at MyVest is ‘People Matter.’ We believe in respecting and valuing each individual, and we pride ourselves on our environment of diversity and inclusion.”
The community of people matter
Jenn also added that MyVest sees itself as a reflection of its community. Given that San Francisco is a city whose population is made up of more than 35 percent of immigrants, it comes as no surprise that MyVest has a workforce that consists of 40 percent immigrants, from all corners of the globe. In addition to its diverse immigrant population, managers across all levels are more than 30 percent women and 35 percent people of color at MyVest.
MyVest sponsors those employees on a variety of visas including OPT, H-1B and TN visas. The company also has a proactive performance-based green card policy, sponsoring employees as soon as six months into their roles.
Policy and people matter
Given the current state of immigration, Jenn explained how policy changes have affected her company and its foreign talent.
Jenn confirmed experiencing the rise of Requests For Evidence (RFEs), saying almost every one of the petitions they filed this year was kicked back with an RFE. “I’d never seen that happen at that level,” she said.
The latest travel ban which, since our interview, was recently allowed to go into full effect by order of the supreme court, also affected employees at MyVest.
“We have a few employees here from one or two of those nations, so there has been a lot of fear,” said Jenn. “There’s been tons of uncertainty and employees are not sure if they should travel.”
Spreading the word that people matter
“I take every opportunity I can to talk to people outside our company about why we hire immigrants. There’s so much misinformation out there, and fear that companies are hiring immigrants because they can pay them less, so they’re taking jobs from qualified American workers. I want to inform people that that’s absolutely not the case,” said Jenn.
“I explain our recruiting process, and then I talk to them about the visa and green card processes, and how we have to prove that there wasn’t a qualified US citizen who wanted to fill the role,” she added.
When asked why immigration is important to her personally, Jenn replied with this question: “How can it not be?”