Just Economy Conference – May 6, 2021
In 2020, NCRC released the Racial and Ethnic Representation Investment (RERI) Framework, a report detailing key steps to improve a bank’s racial and ethnic demographics within their internal workforce, and methods to improve a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. This session will consist of stakeholders from Beneficial State Foundation and City First Bank who will share their first-hand experience with challenges and opportunities in achieving racial and ethnic representation in the workforce as well as promising practices in implementation. Attendees will leave the session with a toolkit of information on evaluating racial and ethnic representation in the workforce, what focus areas to advocate for in the realm of DEI initiatives, and equitable models for bank or foundation investments in communities of color.
- Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, Chief of Membership, Policy and Equity, NCRC
- Josh Devine, Director, Racial Economic Equity, NCRC
- Francis Janes, Industry Relations Director, Beneficial State Foundation
- Cynthia Newell, Chief of Staff, City First Bank
- KimArie Yowell, Chief Learning Officer, Rock Central
NCRC video transcripts are produced by a third-party transcription service and may contain errors. They are lightly edited for style and clarity.
Good afternoon, everyone, almost afternoon for those who are tuning in on the west coast, and welcome to our Just Economy Conference session on Banking for Racial Justice in partnership with our great friends Beneficial State Foundation. My name is Josh Devine. I serve as the director of racial economic equity here at NCRC. And I will be your moderator today. So I’m so glad that you were able to tune in. This is the first of two sessions on banking for racial justice. So if you have time later today at 4pm, there’ll be a conversation on equitable products and services. But particularly for this panel discussion, we will focus primarily on racial and ethnic representation and investment. Over the past year and a half or so we’ve seen organizations and institutions of all sizes make bold commitments to advancing racial equity. So in response, NCRC, has thought about and began to develop a framework to really evaluate and hold accountable these investments in their alignment with local racial equity goals, and to ensure the feasibility of these investments are producing meaningful and sustained impact. So when we talk about investments, we are indeed thinking about a number of avenues, how our corporate and banking institutions thinking about corporate governance, how are they developing equitable and accessible products and standards? What’s the framework for inclusive procurement for example? How do we evaluate corporate philanthropy and social impact investing within the space to name a few. So last fall in CRC released a racial and ethnic representation report, which we affectionately call reread, which my colleague will link into the tech the chat in just a bit, but the report really seeks to help banks improve their racial and ethnic representation. It presents some promising practices within the field, as well as recommend a set of benchmarks to help move from what we call poor representation in the workforce to changemaker or representation that’s above industry average, average. So we’re super excited to have this conversation today to discuss the challenges and opportunities that exist and making substantial progress in this space, and also why it matters for racial equity. Fortunately, I’m not the smart one in the room today. Joining me to discuss racial and ethnic representation are four distinguished guests who I will introduce briefly. So Diedrich Asante. Mohamad serves as the chief of membership policy and equity for NCRC. And his prior role as chief of reason, wealth and community he oversees NCRC of National Training Academy, housing counseling network, DC Women’s Business Center, and the racial economic equity team. He’s known for his racial economic inequality analysis, particularly as relates to the racial wealth divide. And he’s one of the lead authors of what really framework and we’re so glad to have him. Great thanks. Francis. James serves as the industry relationships and partnerships director for beneficial state foundation in his role, Francis partners with banks and banking associations, so that financial institutions can incorporate greater social and environmental impact into their strategic plans. So in addition to Francis, he’s also a subject matter expert on the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, and belonging, Francis leads the planning and implementation of this work at beneficial state Foundation and the bank itself. And you’ll hear from him in just a bit on the work that he’s up to. We also have Cynthia Newell, who is a city first bank’s chief of staff. She has been blessed with an opportunity to really lead a very historic and transformative merger with Broadway Federal Bank creating city first Broadway which is the largest black-led minority depository institution in the United States. So in addition, she manages city first Broadway’s impact management, mission-aligned work, partnerships and funding aggregation. She is well versed in things like financial inclusion, innovative financing, and impact of investing in her perspective is supercritical to our conversation today. And last, but certainly not least, Kumar Yao, who’s the chief learning officer of rock Central. She oversees the teams responsible for creating and implementing training initiatives, talent development, and organizational effectiveness strategies. This includes onboarding new team members professional and organizational development, diversity and inclusion programming engagement in other programs. So we’re glad to have her as well as the others to have this particular discussion today. So we’re actually going to kick things off with the presentation by Francis has been official state bank, on the DNI survey they’ve conducted across financial institutions, which we believe will help set context for our discussion today. So I’ll pass the mic over to Francis.
Joshua, thank you so much, I’m just going to go into screen share mode, I think I mean, screen share mode now. We’ll go to our deck. Thank you, once again, for the opportunity to participate in this August panel. I’ve got one slide to show you here. So I’m the industry relations director for beneficial state foundation. Our mission really simply is to change the banking system for good. And it’s through our ownership of CDI bank, beneficial state bank that we can have a unique model and even understanding that allows us to bridge the work of grassroots organizations, policymakers, banking associations, and banks itself. So beneficial state bank’s mission is really to produce social justice and environmental well being, at the same time as be economically sustainable. Right, we do have a vision of our banking industry, it’s fair to the person with the least bargaining power, historically, marginalized oppressed demographics, providing access to financial services for all of our communities, and particularly the traditionally underserved, and resulting in long term prosperity for Responsible consumers in communities. So beneficial state bank is in fact a signatory to the UN Environment Program principles for Responsible banking. These goals are in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The bank itself has worked really hard to work with third-party certifications and memberships that are that have essentially a triple-bottom-line orientation. For instance, we are a member of the Global Alliance for banking and value. So a really global movement to really help banks think through about what it looks like to have social, environmental impact. We are certified community development financial institution, and many of the institutions who are in fact CDF II participate in the community development Bankers Association, and we play a very key role in helping with racial equity conversations at cdva. We’re proud to have been issued the just label through a third-party organization, the living future institute that helps organizations look at social equity in the workplace. We’ve been applying to the nonprofit bee labs for over essentially a decade in terms of getting certification as an organization that has social, environmental impact embedded in terms of its strategic goals. In 2019, we were considered one of the best certified B corpse in the world. So I am part of the foundation’s industry relations team and we work hand in hand in collaboration with banks and banking associations, to develop promote the use of accurate banking standard to really think about and scaling best practices and solutions. Empower bank leaders were absolutely wanting to help banks transition to a triple bottom line business strategy. We think that the banking sector has enormous opportunity to leverage both their economic resources and the political clout to drive sustain social environmental impact. We believe that you know, financial institutions can proactively invest in industries or sectors that truly will solve many of our most pressing social, environmental concerns. And as a result of the murder of George Floyd, Black Lives Matter movement, evolution. Now we hear United States and globally have seen a tremendous outcry for racial equity and justice and truly responding to the needs of the banking industry. The Foundation has developed a whole host of materials to support DNI policies, practices and programs. And we were very fortunate in just a few months ago, the coral fellow organization gave us opportunity to work with a fellow for roughly five weeks and we use that opportunity to kind of look at The country’s the central largest 50 banks to see how they were implementing DNI within their respective organizations, right? We were interested in how they’re reporting on demographics, what programs they were launching in the workplace, and kind of goals they were setting for, for diversity goals at all levels organization. So the fellowship was specifically asked to look at up to 22 categories, or indicators on di related programs, initiatives, or investments, the information that we were able to achieve with relatively tricky because each organization had varying ways of how to share information, website formats were quite different. And the way they actually even address the AI was quite different across organizations. So So one of them are finding for the at least a 10 largest will essentially megabanks. Right, you can see here for total workforce, for racial and ethnic minorities, you know, the total workforce relatively looks like the demographics are for the country. But at the senior level, and the board level representation for racial and ethnic minorities drops off considerably. And when you look at the research from global consulting firms, like McKinsey, you know, their research and their data essentially says the same thing, right? For essentially the entry-level of financial services industries, the workforce doesn’t look like demographics of America. But by the time you get to the C suite, there’s roughly a 75 to 80% drop off. And they provided this data point from 2017. So you can see for yourself what it looks like, depending on the demographic. And by the time we get to the C suite, white representation is close to 90%, leaving for racial and ethnic minorities, only 11% of C suite numbers. So our Carl fellow had a few recommendations. One of them was to really do better surveys in terms of employee of their employee base, really getting a sense of whether they’re, there’s a sense of inclusion and belonging through the entire organization. So to get a temperature check on that. Organizations are currently not doing a particularly good job and transparency on both sharing the data. And also talking about the whole range of programs initiatives. And to be sure millennials and Gen X, we’re looking to attract those back cohorts to organizations, we know that they have a preference for organizations who are both transparent, but also have a vested interest in advocating for advancing DEI policies and practices. We feel that it’s important organizations to do a better job of sharing the data does this aggregated, typically organizations are able to report on whatever level is that you know, either broadly white individuals or people of color, but we feel the organization should report according to how it’s laid out in either EEOC or US Census Bureau categories. And finally, we feel that especially for the smaller financial institutions, there is an opportunity for pooling of resources, potentially working with financial industry organizations, the American bankers associations to leverage our combined interest in di initiative. So sharing resources, sharing, you know, just understanding what it looks like to advance the AI in our respective organizations, we feel that there’s an opportunity for that to happen on a larger scale. So that’s the presentation or stop sharing, and I’ll turn the mic back over to you, Joshua.
Thank you so much, Francis, for your overview of findings. We’ll get a chance to talk in just a bit about some of the recommendations in a more nuanced fashion in your report. But before we dive in, we did want to give both city firstbank and rock central an opportunity to share a little bit more about the organization and the DNI approach. So we’ll start with Cynthia, and then follow up with with Kumari.
Great. Thanks, Joshua. And thanks NCRC and Francis. Hi. So, pleasure to be with you all today. I just wanted to share a bit on city first, which is now we’re calling Citi first Broadway since we just as of April 1, merged with Broadway Federal Bank, which is also a minority depository institution, based out of California. So where we sit in the spectrum is the legacies of both now our go forward entity, city first Broadway is founded in black leadership, founding institutions where there was a gap in the market for providing Access. And where we know that there’s been decades of historic discrimination Broadway federal was founded in 1947. After World War Two, and African American veterans were not getting access to finance. So three African American entrepreneurs out in Los Angeles founded the institution, they had gone through their own institutional challenges, but found them and found themselves in a place of strength. In recent years, and we had the opportunity at Citi first bank to merge alongside them, our institution was founded 20 years ago, based on the same discrimination and disinvestment that was taking place in Washington, DC, and we realized with you know, our leadership that we needed up, there was a place and opportunity for the creation of a bank that was targeted to serve low mod income and minority communities in the DC market. And so one of the most amazing things is we were coming together in a merger of equals, creating a financially stronger institution together, we’ve done a wholesale look at been bringing the best of both institutions and building best in breed. beyond that. The combined institution 75, of the nine board members are African American, five of the seven members of the executive team are also African American, including our CEO, our chief credit officer, and one of our chief lending officers. And so what you see from there, and as the person who gets the opportunity to look at our mission, strategy and count, count what impact we are having in the community, you know, a great example of how we’re measuring this is in our lending, and we have seen where including in PPP lending, where in the last year, we’ve provided 189 loans to African American owned businesses, or LED not for profits, and 69 million to in dollars to those same businesses. So we see where our model which is intersected with our legacy, our DNA, our leadership, and then how it translates into our core business of lending, that this representation matters. And it creates results, along with many other things that we do, such as, quote, co-lending models to, you know, make sure we are able to fight the racial wealth gap that creates systemic barriers to access. So there are many things but just wanted to share an overview of who we are our representation and some of the evidence in our lending. So I’ll hand it back to you, Joshua.
Thank you so much, Cynthia, I am super excited to bring in your perspective into the conversation we’re going to have today. Now I’ll pass the mic over to KimArie from rock Central.
Excited to be here, I represent, I come representing Rock Central, which is a part of racket companies, which is one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders. The reason that I’m excited to be here is because about a year ago, we formed rock Central. So we’re a professional services company within the larger family of companies. And our mission is to help grow our team members help them to achieve greatness and then help the clients within the family of companies to unleash the maximum potential of their businesses. The work that I do within rock central is in the space of learning. I partner with our Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team as well as our stakeholders and business partners to ensure that we are consistently thinking about and taking action on how we create equitable structures within our organization, as well as how we are ensuring that we’re impacting the American dream of homeownership for all of our US citizens. And so we do a lot of work within the government and in our communities to make sure that we’re leveraging our voice and our the impact that we have by being the largest lender on the systemic structures that have negatively impacted people of color for far too long. So back to you, Joshua.
Awesome, thank you so much. We’re going to move on to a moderated discussion with all of our panelists at this time, I will note that the comment section is open for any questions or comments you all might have, towards the end of our discussion, we will be able to track those questions and answer them in real-time. So we’re excited about that. So let’s, let’s dive into our discussion here. So it’s city first bank, and rock central really represent a host of financial institutions that are thinking more critically within this space. And Francis, you know, I want to go back to the data in your presentation, which showed that eight significant drop in the proportion of people of color and women in positions, or there is a significant drop as you move from entry-level to C suite positions. And I’m just curious in your work, you know, what do you think is the challenge here? Why, why are we seeing such a trend?
Joshua, I think that’s the million-dollar question. I think when you look at the body of work, trying to understand why corporations have been spending so much time energy investments in the AI space and not seeing progress for a long, long time. And there’s a sense that, you know, organizations really have to do our organizational cultural reset. And one of the things that we observe is that, you know, leaders in C suite CEOs for sure cannot basically, have other individuals in organization be accountable, responsible for achieving the results they’re seeking. So it’s one thing for them to say, we are looking to have our C suite look like the communities we serve. But they have to model kind of essentially the inclusive leadership capabilities, in order for that probably to make progress over time. And then they need to hold their teams and departments accountable for ensuring that happens over time as well. One of the things that I think it’s been interesting for us to observe is that there’s a lot of pressure from the grassroots of organizations right at the entry-level positions for meaningful change in di progress. And then we have some enlightened leaders in the C suite, pushing for that and advocating for that and making clear statements about that. But it seems seemingly, we’re in the middle levels, middle layers, organizations, that’s we’re seeing, basically things not making much progress. So we need to bring a lot of the inclusive leadership development capabilities to managers, directors, mid-level supervisors. So they also are understanding what does this look like for us to build kind of inclusive cultures, environments that allow for our more historically underrepresented talent to advance and develop over time, eventually, the C suite.
We will talk a little bit about accountability in just a second. But you bring up a great point, you know, depending on who you talk to you, there are many aspects that can contribute to the challenges that we’re seeing in this space. Some would say it’s just broken HR internal processes. Others would say, Oh, it’s the lack of talent supply. We can’t find the right talent. And to your point, France’s maybe it’s the cultural experiences within the institutions. This could be directed to you, Francis, but I would love your thoughts, Dedrick on this, as you know, you know, how are people framing this issue at hand? Is it? Is it solely on the institution itself? Are there broader issues at play?
Well, I’ll jump in. I mean, you know, I would point that, you know, the fundamental challenge I think we see in racial ethnic representation, or diversity and inclusion is the reality of deep racial economic inequality. So if you might say, white supremacy. And so you have that challenge in society. And then the question is, how is your corporation going to address it? Because we’ve been talking about the challenges in financial institutions, but I’ve done analysis of corporations in different sectors, and they all seem to be very much lacking in terms of C suite positions, manage, and actually, it can even be harder at kind of senior management/management, because if it’s like a board, and it’s only 10 people, you know, you might be able to identify two or three people to say your boards diverse. When you have 1,000 managers, and how are you making sure that that is 13%? So I think there’s a reality of structural inequality in society. And I’ll push that I think, actually, most corporations haven’t been as forward-thinking about these issues as they should have been. I mean, I think, working in this space for a while many corporations were focused on not being discriminate, not being discriminatory, or being open to others. But that’s very different than saying we recognize that racial inequality is a problem in society, we see it reflected in our corporation, and we are going to take steps to address what’s happening in larger society, and in particular, our Corporation. So I think, I think now there’s much greater willingness to talk about race. And hopefully we will see a progress because it is amazing how little progress there has been since 1980s. Right? There’s always been organizations talking about diversity and inclusion, but there hasn’t been progress. So hopefully, now’s a turning point. And I think a huge way of making sure that it’s true, is make sure we have plenty of transparency and openness about successes and failures, because I think it’s okay to fail. Just be open about it and talk about what you’re going to do to do better next time.
To a question to Cynthia and KimArie, as a representative of institutions, you know, how are you communicating the value of workforce diversity in the work that you’re doing within your organization? And are you pushing the needle towards more forward-thinking as Dedrick was mentioning?
Cynthia, you’re going to be? Sure. So we’ve been on this journey for quite a while, I’m excited to say that I’ve been with the organization for eight years. And for as long as I’ve been with the organization, it has been a journey. And you know, for us, it’s understanding that I’m going to speak as a black woman, it’s understanding that, even though I have a perspective, because this is the way that I grew up, this is the size of society that I’ve lived in my entire life, what I had to start to understand is that not everybody has had the same experiences that I have had. And so you know, being in this development space, I’ve taken a lot of time to say, you know, what, the social structures, the constructs, social media, media itself plays a role in how people see the world. So what is my role in this? I’m a firm believer that structures determine behaviors. So as you just said, Joshua, is it the HR structures or practices that create these situations? Yes, it is. Right? Is it the people in the organizations that create these instances? Yes, it is. Organizations are made up of imperfect people coming with all of their different perspectives and their beliefs. And so being any person that sits in HR, I asked myself the question, what is it that I can do to help change the direction and be a part of the solution? And so what we have started doing, as is, is being hard on process, versus being hard on people. So really looking at our structures within our organizations and saying, are these structures set up to where unconscious bias can creep in or conscious bias can hide to where now people are making decisions about others in terms of promotions, movement through the organization? And how is that showing up? So we peel back those layers and look into those things, and really start putting processes together and up so that we can start to create more equitable systems within our organization. And so I will, I will say to you, you know, some people talk about like, what are your hiring practices, I do not believe that there is a shortage of talent, when it comes to people of color, as a person of color, who has done a lot of hard work to make it where I am today. I know that there are hundreds of 1000s of people just like me out here. The question becomes is How are you, as the leader of your organizations, ensuring that that hiring process is equitable, ensuring that the people who are doing the recruiting, know what questions to ask, understand the differences in terms of what people have experienced in their life? And you’re not asking questions, just from your perspective, but a more wider perspective, to talk to our hiring leaders to look at panels to ensure that those panels that are making those decisions are diverse, to ensure that we’re having consistent questions that we’re asking, right, that we’re challenging each other. So those are some of the things that we have put in place from the initial hiring people into our organization, but also as we start thinking about how do we create greater diversity at the top or at the bottom of the funnel depending on which way you think about it. And then the last thing that out that I will say about this is that you have to be diligent. Many organizations are doing things for show. And you you cannot do things just for the sake of saying I donated some money, or we did this really cool thing, but no, how are you truly trying to change what you’re Organization looks like the reality of it is, is that diversity, equity and inclusion drives innovation, the more diverse perspectives you have in your organization, right? That means people of color, that means gender, when you have those folks and those diverse perspectives that mirror your clients, then you’re actually able to impact you are foolish if you believe that you don’t need to have people that mirror our society in your organization. This doesn’t make business sense, right? So those aren’t, those are my thoughts on that I get kind of fired up about it, because it’s something that we definitely in our positions have the ability to impact the outcome, to change the direction for our future generations to come?
Sure. We certainly need people who are passionate about this. So thank you for that. But you bring up a really great point in that Dedrick kind of resonated or alluded to, which was that, you know, a commitment to diversity doesn’t often translate into progress on the ground. And if we’re going to be critical about process, I think an important point is data. One of the points you made in your presentation, Francis, is the need for this aggregated the NIH data in support of this work. It’s one thing that we it’s one of the things we call out in our reread framework, and one that has caught the attention of many thought leaders within the space. So I want to throw Dedrick first and Francis feel free to jump in kind of what is the value of kind of moving away from this broad, we just need people of color goal to setting more race, race, ethnic, gender-specific goals? And do you have a sense of what those goals should be?
Yeah, and I think for you know, I think this is part of its, to me, it’s beyond a commitment to diversity, it’s a cop, it’s a commitment to addressing racial inequality. And I would say foundation of racial inequalities, racial economic inequality. So I think if it’s that type of commitment, then everything makes more sense about why you need specific goals to address different aspects, right. And there’s different ways to address, you know, racial economic inequality, and just one of them is your internal measures. There’s other things you can do in terms of procurement dollars, in terms of policy, advocacy, in terms of even charity, that can be focused on racial economic inequality, but the least you can do, and the thing that you have most control of is what does racial equity look like within your organization, right. And, you know, this idea of, you know, people of color as a placeholder, I mean, there’s really kind of actually, I think, no excuse to have as your breakdown whites and people of color, because what you want to look at is, there’s a reality of racial economic inequality, there’s reality that some communities have historically been disenfranchised, and are contemporarily socio economically disenfranchised. So we want to mark and see how our organization, how inclusive they are of African Americans, in particular, of lean Latinos, in particular, Asian Americans, right? If your organization is that a space, we have a decent Native American population, right, and maybe in some places, you know, you might be based out of Miami, and you might want to do a breakout of Cubans versus Central Americans, you know, what have you to kind of help ensure this inclusivity that is aimed to address racial economic inequality. So I think those sites, because if you don’t, it gets very lost, right? You could be Oh, we’re at, you know, 30% people of color, but you might have no Latinos. Right. And I think, you know, the gender breakdown within races, what is important as well, right? You could have 30% people of color, but have very low women, or sometimes in some situations, very low levels of men, right. So understanding what percentage are African American men, African American women, Latino men, Latino women. So those breakouts are essential. And I think, you know, that stuff needs to be shared publicly. And so that it’s much easier for people to understand, okay, well, they’re making progress. They’re not making progress. And and the organization as a whole can understand this, because I think too, oftentimes, it’s been left just in human resources are a couple people to determine the diversity for the whole organization. But if it’s part of the whole organization’s public front, then everyone in the organization has to take responsibility for this type of racial equity work that includes diversity and inclusion.
Do I wish I could like just snap that for you? It’s shared partnership, like it can’t rest on the HR teams or the DNI team, right? And nobody else is thinking about it. And so like, I love that, that you that you said that and to really get those folks in those, whether it’s the production or the operation positions to understand the role that they play in changing the outcome, because if they’re, if they’re just shifting it off to HR, and it’s like hands off, you’re not going to see anything be different.
And I’ll just again just want to re-emphasize. And that’s why it should be the organization should be approaching this as this is our commitment to racial economic equity. Right. And like this is part of our larger piece in here is a small piece. So everyone understands how central it is not Oh, it’s just some, you know, internal measure that that that the Diversity Committee cares about, but it’s what the organization is about.
Joshua, I’m just gonna jump in here and build a little bit, but what Diedrich said, and I’m gonna take a moment to really, you know, give a shout out to Citi group, because when they launched their report back in the fall, on closing the racial equity gaps between blacks and whites in America, you know, it really gave everybody pause and says, oh, wow, look, look at the enormity of the opportunity. We left on the table, if we had closed the gap, 20 years ago, we would have added $16 trillion to US economy, right. So that means all of us are hurting, we have deeply baked in institutional and systemic racism. What I found interesting when you looked how silly is talking about the internal dei work, one thing to observe is that in all their global leadership, Team 37% are, you know, people of color, they have really good black representation and Latinx representation on the global leadership team. But more explicitly what they have said that, you know, they have a bench mark or bench line of black executives at the senior and mid levels, which was 6%, in 2018. And they have publicly declared that by 2021, they won’t have the goal, not at 8% to 8%. So you don’t get very many examples of institutions who a acknowledge the issue, but then being very public and declaring here’s a benchmark where we were, and here’s where we’re heading to, for a very specific demographic, which I would have to applaud.
No, that’s great. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Francis. It begs the question, like what is needed to encourage more of that transparency in data to to move in this work? And I’m wondering, maybe I can throw this question is Cynthia, like, how are you working in your company to to measure impact both in workforce but also broadly racial? The racial economic inequality? How are you using, you know, data and metrics to you know, evaluate your work and form your work? Or what lessons can you can gather? What advice can you give to those who are seeking to do this work a little bit more?
Yeah, happy to and I and I loved the dialogue that was just taken place on on basically making it a strategic priority. And one of the things I’ve found is that unless you have it as a strategic priority, then it’s just a metric that’s out there, you know, because someone said, there’s some standard that exists, and we should be tracking it. But until it’s built into something that matters, the core business, nobody’s going to care. So I think that’s where there’s this question, I struggle with a bit because you want to create the uniformity and the transparency. But until an institution takes the time to say, this is core to who we are, and what we do. And what we’re trying to sell or whatever it is. That data is going to only go so far. So I tend to actually be a little bit, you know, untraditional, I guess, in that I never try to track something until I know that it’s core to the organization. And so what we found is that, you know, not and then and then also, it doesn’t matter externally, do people care to know this right? You care internally to know Do people externally care to know. And so, you know, I think that’s the power actually about the fact that we’re in a global awakening to say, in the white dominant culture world, at least, that these things matter, racial equity matters, breaking down white supremacy matters. You know, we’re not getting the results we wanted, you know, it’s Broadway, financial, federal being founded in 1947. To solve these issues, or, you know, all the other historic MDI that were the first financial institutions post slavery for African Americans are created to solve the same problems. So they still all exist. And so what’s, what are we not fixing? And so I know that wasn’t exactly answering your question. But I think it starts with the strategy and people caring, too. To know the answer to something and valuing it. And then, you know, the transparency and the unification, I think comes comes as a consequence of that.
That’s awesome. Francis, in your work, do you? Do you find that that conversation around strategy is challenging for institutions? Are people having these conversations critically having these conversations? Are they really getting it? How do you see that conversation happening in the partnership work that you do with banks and banking associations?
Yeah, that’s a great question, Joshua. You know, I spend quite a bit of time with actually banking associations, I’m based in the Pacific Northwest. So both Oregon and Washington make associations have set up DNI taskforce to help basically bank CEOs to kind of look at more deeply, kind of like the strategy that Cynthia was referring to. So developing the business case, even though the business case has been well known and established for quite a while, and we do what we can to ensure that the associations that are the most current data point and recommendations. So there is definitely, you know, women in these really conservative associations groupings to better understand what the issues are, how do we get the senior leaders on board, and then really developing a pretty strong internal team to drive the strategy and integrate DNI through and through, I just can’t be in a program or initiative that somebody looks after. It’s it’s got to be woven into the DNA of the organization baked into the vision and mission. So we’re starting to see those conversations happening. And the fact that banking associations are helping to lead those conversations and bringing that information to the respective members is, but it’s a good time.
Can I jump in one? for one moment? Real quick, Joshua?
Yes, go ahead Dedrick
Yeah, I just Oh, something that Cynthia had stated, sparked something in me. And that, again, as we were talking about, strategically, you know, organizations say it’s part of our strategic work are to address racial economic inequality. I think, also, you know, what is essential, particularly for financial institutions, is to make sure not that these have, you know, you know, bias training and these types of things, but there’s their staff all the way up, all the way down. Either way you want to go should have some training and understanding of the reality of racial economic inequality, the history of the racial wealth, divide how financial institutions have played a role in maintaining that, because that context is really helpful for people to understand Oh, okay. So now in my current position, we are trying to get out, go back, turn back on what has been happening and doing something different. But if you don’t give that context, it’s hard for people to understand how this is part of their regular job. And again, diversity inclusion would be a piece of that. But I think that I have, because I’ve been amazed that how I think more and more, there’s general conversation, I don’t know many financial institutions to have training throughout the organization around racial economic inequality, and how financial institutions have played a role in it, and then ideally, and then what their plan is to play a new role in bridging that inequality.
If I could just jump in Joshua is built off of what did you share is, that’s one of the things that we’ve done within rocket is, it’s not a one and done, I’m gonna send you an I’m gonna send you off to this training, and expect for you to come back washed white, a snow change like that. That’s not how it works, right. And so it has to be intentional. And it also has to be ongoing. People are on different parts of their journey. And so one of the things that we we’ve done is we have broken it down by levels, right? Meaning that we take our team members through it, our leaders through it, and our executive leaders through it and have conversations around. What does that look like? We challenged the biases that exist within the individuals. We brought in recently brought in town to group to really talk about the urban crisis, and redlining and taking people back to understand like, even though our intentions are not to discriminate today, but please understand what has happened to black people in America over time, and then what are the things that we’re going to do to change it? Again, going back to how are you leveraging your power and your privilege in this space, to not only just get clients because that’s a business imperative, but like, how are you shaping the future of this country by but you have to make sure that people understand because if you just talk at people and not understand and help them, break it down and kind of challenge them in a way that opens them up to be a part of the solution, then you’re consistently doing this. And that’s just combative and you’re not going to really move the needle in any way.
As you were talking, the question, in my mind is, if we do these trainings, if we kind of have these conversations, and we educate people on why this matters, then who was having those conversations? Is it just internal? or How are you bringing in community partners? So there’s some interesting, you know, interesting questions, you know, how can banks do a better job at strengthening their local outreach to communities of color, to better understand how they can serve those communities, how they can invest in those communities, and possibly hire people from those communities of color? So, you know, how does it How does community partnership work in your in your space, and I guess I’ll throw that back over to KimArie. And maybe Francis was, Cynthia, if you have any thoughts, in this case, it would be great.
For us community partnerships are everything. Like we believe in being a part, you know, of our community, we believe and, you know, trying to build up our community. So we think about, you know, last month, the $500 million investment over the next 10 years to the city of Detroit, to to help, you know, she to help residents who have been impacted by the foreclosure crisis, right, by paying off back taxes, when you think about our urban Alliance program, where we work with the inner city high schools to provide those high school students entry into the workforce, right and setting it up for the future, I can go on and on and on, in terms of how we work and partner within our communities in the spaces that we are in, to impact the communities but also to expose those within our organization, to the various aspects of diversity and what’s going on around them is very important. You can’t just invest in the community for the for the sake of saying I am donating x money, but you’re you’re they’re not educating the people inside of the organization on why those things are important, right, what I get to mentor, a high school student that gets to work with me like that goes a very long way. Because not only am I teaching that high school student, I’m learning from that high school student in terms of what they’re going through conversations that we’re having about financial literacy, and how we can actually educate folks within our community needs because I don’t I don’t know about the folks on this call. But I can tell you, nobody taught me about credit when I was in high school, right, and so figuring out the multitude of ways that we can partner with our community, again, to change the outcomes.
Awesome. Cynthia Francis, do you have any thoughts on the community partnership or the role of local community outreach and supportive workforce diversity and more broadly, racial economic inequality and investments to advance or bridge the racial wealth divide?
Josh, I’ll just quickly add in comment, and within both the foundation, a bank, and we do have a very explicit racial equity lens in terms of who we choose that we might tick, either engage with collaborate with a support. So that’s, you know, with some level of intentionality, this particular organization that we may be in relationship with, have a racial justice, racial liberation lens, focus on indigenous black and Latin x community. So that’s something pretty core to who our core values, quite frankly.
Awesome, thank you. I want to circle back to the conversation, or sent to the conversation around implementation and what needs to be done moving forward. And I’m curious in the work, that you all are doing, you know, what’s what is actually working? Well, you know, what, what, what is promising practices in this space to ensure that financial institutions are meeting their commitment to workforce diversity broadly? Are there programs and institutions that you are putting in place to make this happen? Are there things that you’re hearing Are you know, providing some success in the space that others can kind of model or follow? And I guess I’ll fill that question maybe two more your Cynthia as institution reps and teacher Francis can then respond.
So I’ll do I’ll defer to you to KamArie. Because we’re I would say we’re not good in the program, lens, we, but more on the holistic, just kind of part of who we are. I’ll defer to you.
Sure. I’ll I’ll jump in and try to share so you know, as I said earlier, we don’t believe in doing you know, performative gestures around this space, and so we have our strategic pillar. So speaking back to something you shared earlier, Cynthia, and so those strategic pillars focus on around recruiting. So what are we doing to impact our recruiting processes? Where are we going to find diverse talent on? And what does that visibility look like in terms of the process that we’re making. And so there’s been a lot of work that we’ve done in that, and filling back the layers back from an external recruiting process, but even in an internal talent mobility process in terms of, you know, making sure that, you know, the various positions that open up that it’s visible, that people can see them, you know, sometimes people say, I didn’t know, you know, that this position was even opening up. So how are we even providing the visibility for you know, our team members to know that these positions are available, and that they can apply for them, and then making sure that those processes to move four people for it are equitable, and that we’re being inclusive so that everyone knows that they have access to do that? We’re also, you know, looking into education, and listening to our team members getting their insights and their perspectives, in terms of how are they engaging with the organization? And how are they receiving the organization? What are the things that we can do better, then oftentimes, organizations can make assumptions about team members and their sentiment and what they’re seeing and what they’re feeling. There’s nothing better than actually getting boots on the ground, and listening. And then when you listen to take action on those things, and then provide visibility, that you’re taking action on the things that they’re sharing. We talked about this earlier, you know, leadership development, how are we thinking about the whole leader, right from, from understanding their behaviors, to understanding their values and their beliefs, and then educating them. But then after they come out of those trainings, what are the processes and systems to reinforce those things that were taught. And then we continue to partner with our external affairs and our community partnerships, as Joshua brought up earlier, to ensure that we are being holistic and intentional with how we show up in the community, and then how that comes back into the organization. And we did note those strategic programs for organization to make sure that everybody played a part. And one of the things that I really loved about it is, is it wasn’t HR driven. So the folks that were responsible for really leaning into those initiatives came from across the entire organization, team members were involved, visibility was provided. And so we had quarterly updates, and we continue to have quarterly updates on how are we doing? Right? Are we making progress? What does it look like? You know, are there opportunities to do something different? How do we shift those things? And we shift as appropriate?
Sure, I know we have. Sorry, Dedrick, did you have to want to add in your thoughts?
You go ahead. I’ll jump in. Before we close.
I just want we have about five minutes left? And I kind of want to, you know, wrap up the conversation was probably just like one golden question that you know, all of you all can respond to. Dedrick mentioned earlier about, you know, thinking about this work. Because we have had much progress in this work over the past few years. We need to be thinking, moving forward, you know, how do we do this better? How do we do this more innovatively. And I’m wondering if there’s any advice or insight that you all have in the work that you do, either for the banking institution itself, for the community partner, or stakeholder who’s working in partnership with these issues? You know, you know, what is that one thing that you should? Should you just want people to know, as they’re doing this work or seeking to do this work more, more innovatively to seek impact?
Joshua, I can jump in and provide a bit of insight. So I think traditionally, lots of employers would have implemented some form of mentoring programs, and traditional or reciprocal. And I think some of the research suggests that when organizations are more explicit around doing sponsorship programs, where this is a proactive sort of approach from senior leaders, higher-level leaders to really look at emerging talent within from underrepresented communities, to be able to bring them under their wing, to be able to coach them to give them visible, highly visible projects to get to allow their political and, and sort of clout within the organization to support them in their journey through the organizations. I think sponsorship for microstructures should be one kind of di initiative that should be more prominent across employers.
Awesome. Thank you, Francis.
Well, what I might share may be a little bit controversial, but I think it’s kind of true. I think we just need more black lead and founded entities. Because I think the reality is those entities are the ones that are just set up to, you know, I mean, we know black-owned businesses are more likely to hire from minority communities. And so I think, like lunch shifting from the white-led entities, changing how they’re doing things to elevating all of the black-owned and black-led entities and not for profits are included in that, and investing as much as we can, in those leaders and what they’re doing. Because I think that’s gonna be a critical way in which we create more models of how this is done. Right, and not from a symbolic gesture. But from real, like, transformative, like, this is how this works. I mean, and I know, I’ve been blessed to be a part of two black-led entities in my career. And, you know, there’s no, there’s no program to hire people, because it’s just kind of just part of. It’s just part of it. Yeah, I don’t. So, so I’ll just put that there. And I think, as a white woman on this call to just, you know, I don’t have the answers, but those were, from my experience. That’s what I’ve observed works best.
Awesome. Thank you for your thoughts, Cynthia, quick thoughts Dedrick and or KimArie?
I’ll say, as a white woman, you did have part of the answer there. That was That was good. That was good information there. I mean, it was a good perspective there. And you know, something that sparked me to think more about in terms of it doesn’t usually fit into the diversity inclusion frame. But this idea of partnerships, because I mean, what could become negative, like, I want people to do more hiring of blacks, Latinos, what have you, but they could just start writing smaller black financial institutions, businesses and pull away from that way from them and just incorporate them into these larger white institutions. And we don’t want that to the point of hurting these local organizations. So I think this idea of partnership, and investing in to minority-led institutions needs to be a central part of an organization’s commitment to advancing racial equity. So I think that’s a real important piece that hopefully we can explore in the future and you’d have more conversations about
Awesome, awesome, thank you. Well, thank you, Francis Kumari, Cynthia Diedrich, you all have been a delight to speak with on this particular topic. Continue to do the great work in this space. Thank you so much.
So KimArie, can’t say nothing?
You all said it all, you all said it all.
Okay, KimArie If you if you’d like to say something in this with passion.
Okay. I would just say, you know, unfortunately, um, as I’ve been listening to this conversation, unfortunately, there’s still work to do. I get it. I would love to say that everybody gets it. They don’t. Right. They don’t. And I know we want them to get it. And they may never, right. But we have to be diligent and persistent. Because I don’t know for you all, I want to be standing on the right side of history. And I want to continue to press on. And I want to continue to throw the mirror up for people and honor people with my truth, and just what the right thing is to do. And I feel really good about where we’re headed. And I’m glad that I got a bunch of warriors on this call to continue to do this work together. I got.
That’s, that’s great. Thank you so much KimArie, and everyone for your time and effort today. I appreciate it. For those who are still interested in this conversation. We do have a part two at four o’clock today more specific to equitable products and services. So hopefully you get a chance to check that out. If not, have a great rest of your afternoon and week. I appreciate you all