Prudential Financial CEO Receives McGowan Ethical Leader of the Year Award

By SHRM Conference Today staff June 14, 2022
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​Diana Spencer, executive director of the McGowan Fund, with Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial.

​Diana Spencer, executive director of the McGowan Fund, presents the inaugural William G. McGowan Ethical Leader of the Year Award to Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022. Photo by Ralph Alswang.

Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, is the winner of the inaugural William G. McGowan Ethical Leader of the Year Award.

Lowrey received a $25,000 cash prize to donate to a nonprofit of his choice. He will be giving the funds to the New Alliance in support of Prudential's various community, education and workforce development initiatives.

Diana Spencer, executive director of the McGowan Fund, which presented the award, recognized Lowrey during the June 13 general session at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22).

The McGowan Fund initiated the William G. McGowan Ethical Leader of the Year Award to encourage principled leadership. Each candidate was nominated by a colleague, assessed by a selection committee of peers and evaluated on their ethical leadership.

"For the 115 million workers and their families to the 300,000 HR professionals represented by SHRM, we know that ethical leadership matters," Spencer said. "Lives depend on it. Communities depend on it. Equity depends on it. The environment depends on it. Our world needs ethical leaders today more than ever."

Under his leadership, Spencer said, Lowrey has made Prudential Financial "the company that people look up to as a role model for how to be highly successful in business and do so with values-based decision-making today."

Lowrey has served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of international businesses at Prudential as well as executive vice president and chief operating officer of U.S. businesses. He also served as president and CEO of PGIM, Prudential's global investment management business, and earlier as CEO of PGIM Real Estate.

Lowrey emphasized HR's important role in creating a culture of ethical leadership.

"The example you set as leaders of people and as stewards of human capital can make all the difference," he said. "Together, all of us can Cause the Effect. Each of you individually, in your own way, can Cause the Effect."

"Cause the Effect" was the theme of SHRM22.

McGowan was an entrepreneur who headed telecommunications giant MCI for 24 years until his death in 1992. He launched the campaign that ended AT&T's monopoly in 1984. The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund was established after his death to provide financial support to organizations that reflect the visions, concerns and life experiences of its benefactor.

Funds are distributed in grants for three program areas—education, human services, and health care and medical research—with priority given to programs that have demonstrated success, have measurable outcomes, plan for sustainability, and aim to end cycles of poverty and suffering.

"The SHRM Annual Conference & Expo is the largest convening of HR professionals in the world. We wanted to use this opportunity to showcase SHRM's commitment to more than just the words, but the actions of ethical leadership," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM's) president and chief executive officer, in a news release about the award. He was among the panel of judges who selected the award winner. 

"We at SHRM believe that better workplaces lead to a better world," Taylor added, "and that it is important to use our stage to demonstrate HR's dedication, as a profession, to ethical leadership."

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