Inclusive Excellence, Ms. Jackson, (Script of Lecture)
Had to do the script Can not do a video
I worked at the United States Embassy in the Sara with two, and it was just a wonderful experience
to be on the continent of Africa. Um to learn about how the United States handles diplomatic relations. Um also to see Chinese investment in that country as well. So I I I learned so much um from that experience with the diplomatic community, and I feel like a lot of those in a personal skills that I um developed while I was an undergrad I really used, and um
honed when I studied abroad. Because you’re you’re interacting with people from all over the world. Um, for me uh, in terms of working in diversity, equity, and inclusion. I kind of fell into this role. Um, I think a lot of people um who started working on the I issues particularly in the nineties, and the early two thousands kind of fell into that work, whereas now there’s a lot of formal programs, their courses. There’s their opportunities to earn certifications and be intentional about doing this work. But
I was at the University of South Carolina, and the other institution I’m. Not supposed to name. Um, but um! I was working um really focusing on community engagement working on their Carnegie classification. And there was honestly a student protest, and at that time students were pro testing um because they wanted more representation on campus, and my focus quickly went from community engagement to Okay, what are we going to do around diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And it was a wonderful learning experience to be on a college campus focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
My work there. Um really put me on the radar for Climpson University, and I was the first Director of Diversity Education at the University, and um I I honestly had a lot of my most um proud professional accomplishments. Um at crimson um one of the things, and that’s really how I started working with Dr. Sims
um, launching our faculty, learning community around diversity, equity, and inclusion,
where we brought faculty in to really be intentional, and talk about di and incorporating it into the curriculum, and then also launching university strategic, inclusive, excellent certificate. Um. What we were working to do is just build capacity. Um involve faculty, staff and graduate students in intentional learning around diversity, tap into the expertise that we had on campus and really empower them to work within their circle of influence to teach others about Dei. So
that was a phenomenal experience for me. And also while I was at the university, I was consulting with other organizations. And so that’s how I found out about this opportunity at United Community Bank. Um.
Quite frankly. The bank had a bias incident in one of their branches in Georgia, and the Bank already had a partnership with Climps University for the Leadership Academy that the bank does. And so they reached out to our corporate department for assistance, navigating um Their bias incident, and what they found was that the corporate department um did not have the I expertise. And so they reached out on the academic side and tapped into my role as um director of Diversity Education
to work with the bank to help them navigate um, despise incident, and figure out what they were going to do to address it at the bank, and so
that consulting opportunity led to strong relationships here at the bank, which in turn turned into this role that i’m in. And so in August of two thousand and twenty, in the midst of the pandemic Um, I actually joined the bank, but I think it’s important for me to
go back and tell you a little bit about the consulting. And so United Community Bank um We are currently a twenty-four billion dollar bank Uh, We’ve recently moved our headquarters to Greenville, South Carolina and we started in Blairville, Georgia. Um about seventy years ago,
and um it’s uh started as a community bank, and what they did was they acquired other community banks and rural communities, and um developed into this larger bank, and so we’re on a growth trajectory right now.
We’re located primarily in the southeast. We have one hundred and ninety-three branches. In, of course, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and we just acquired a bank in Alabama, and so um
in twenty, nineteen, probably August or September. There was a African doctor that went into a branch to open a bank account. Well, our teller thought the doctor was actually going to rob the bank and call the cops, and so
that incident, Of course it hit the news. You know there was a you know, chain of events.
And so um! Our leadership team wanted to approach this differently, and So again they reached out to crimson. Um! So I started talking to human resources. I had an opportunity to talk to the Executive leadership team. Um, I did some workshops with them, you know, understood what was happening, and so they were impressed with the work that I did, and so I helped launch their Diversity Council that they called the power of you. I helped launch that in January
of two thousand and twenty,
and then, in March of two thousand and twenty. I came back to also talk to the senior leadership team. Well, as you all know, in March twenty twenty. That was when Covid hit. So it was the first week of March that I was talking to the senior leadership team, and we probably were at a super spreader event I was presenting, and everyone was there in person. Um! And then the week a week afterwards the world shut down, and so um I didn’t do anything with the bank, because, Of course they were focused on Ppp and helping businesses. Um, and you know there’s just a lot going on, but probably around
June or July. Um had an opportunity to reconnect with the bank, because this opportunity came up, and so really excited to be here. So um!
I want to pause for a moment, because I always love to hear from you all. Do you all have any questions or comments before I go on and talk in depth about the work that I do. And then transition to the D. I work in particular,
and I think I saw somebody comment in the chat that they also went to a woman’s college. I love it, too. That’s awesome.
I have a question. Oh, sure,
um! Did you say that the Council that you were a part of that was that you called it Power View.
Yes, for that I miss here you Okay, it It is so, and i’ll talk a little bit more about that when I talk about the role at the bank. But um! Prior to me joining the bank, they decided to start this council, and they call it the power of you because our bank is United Community Bank, and so they do a lot of things to play on the you and united. And so they wanted to be called the power of you to demonstrate the power of United Community Bank, but also the power of you as an individual as well. And so um!
It was a really good experience launching that inaugural council. I think the bank did a phenomenal job identifying leaders from across the footprint leaders from different backgrounds, leaders in different positions. And um to to get that deeper intentional D I work going. It was really really good when we started that in January of two thousand and twenty.
Um, I think someone hand is up. Yeah, um. So when you when you started the Council, and I i’m sure you’ll probably get into this. But were you finding that there was representation in in membership and and um
just folks who were on staff at the bank. Was there good representation, or was that something that Um! You had to go back and help them think about building a more um diverse population in their in like maybe management ranks or something along those lines.
Um, no. I think the bank did a phenomenal job identifying um participants that were diverse in terms of um racial diversity in terms of gender diversity in terms of sexual orientation, ability, position, geographic location. I think they did a really good job, being intentional, and making sure it was a group that really reflected Um, the bank. So I was really pleased and impressed with what they did, and I wasn’t involved in that process. That’s awesome.
All right. So I don’t think there any other questions. Um. So i’ll talk a little bit about this position. So i’m over community development and engagement at the bank. It’s a brand new position at the bank. Um! I joined the team in August two thousand and twenty, and my work covered um
different areas. So the first thing was um. We started a ten million dollar foundation. Um, We earned a lot of income from Ppp, and one of the things that our executive team realized was that was probably a one time windfall, and they wanted to take advantage of that, and they took um that money and started a foundation. So i’m over our foundation.
Um, i’m also over community um engagement, and I like to call that um the together for good council. So we started a council. I’ll talk a little bit more depth about that as well. Um where we identified three to five bankers in each of our States to be ambassadors um for community engagement, and being involved in the community so foundation.
But together for good council, the bank launched a leadership Academy. Um seven years ago, and they knew that they wanted to make sure they had a pipeline of leaders, and so each year they identify um fifteen to twenty bankers to be involved in a leadership Academy program. And um i’m over the programming for that. Um i’m also over something that we call our junior board program. So in two thousand and five um, our bankers decided to create a year
development program, and so we have seven junior awards across our footprint, where we work with eleventh and twelfth graders, and we expose them to banking um. They learn about financial literacy. They do community engagement initiatives um some over that initiative as well.
I’m. Also over the power of you, and so that’s our Diversity Council that was started in two thousand and twenty, and I just recently Um received a another initiative. Um, we’re launching our own development program. We’re having a hard time finding um commercial credit employees. And so we’re launching a fellowship program here. And so, um! I am responsible for getting this off the ground really excited about that. We’re on track to launch that in June of two thousand and twenty-three, and so that’s an opportunity. Um, we’re probably gonna
I up to twenty new bankers um to come in and receive training to be commercial credit um leaders and um take them through a two year program um to help get them up to speed. So my work is kind of broad. It touches. It touches a lot of different areas, and
one of the things that I like to say in terms of our approach around diversity, equity, inclusion at our bank, our Ceo um. He is the leader for diversity and inclusion. So we don’t have a chief diversity officer, and we firmly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. And so what we work to do is help our leaders to help our managers understand and look through our products, look through our services, look through our hiring, look through everything we do
through a diversity. Equity, and inclusion lens because it’s not something oh, so sorry! Hold on one second I forgot that. Um.
I hope my lights didn’t permanently go off. We do energy saving here at the bank.
um! Hold on one second
I’m going to grab my phone. Excuse. Sorry about this. I forgot that the lights turn off at seven.
I thought I could pop it back on. But it did not. I’ll come out in this area over here,
so you can see we’re environmentally conscious, and we want to um.
okay. We’re environmentally conscious, and we want to make sure. Um, We are saving energy. Um, i’m typically not here this late at night. Yes, i’m glad you all like the um energy savings. Um.
So we believe that it’s everybody’s responsibility to focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, which I think is unique. Um, and I think it’s really important. And um what we’ve done um since I started. I’m really excited about this.
Each year we do a seminar for our top one hundred and twenty-five to thirty-five liters. These are like our
um State Presidents um our regional presidents. They go through a seminar, and so we talked to them about different topics, and what we like to do is use the word boundary spanning the center for creative leadership. Has this concept called boundary spanning where they focus on
five different boundaries. Um. Geographic boundaries. Um demographic boundaries. Um vertical horizontal. Those are the internal um organization boundaries, and I think i’m forgetting one. Please forgive me for that.
And um. We like to talk about boundary spanning because we want our bankers to understand that diversity is bigger than race, and diversity is bigger than gender, sexual orientation and ability. Typically, those are the four boxes. People typically think of it as and we want them to know that diversity is about. You know each individual and understanding and having empathy for um specific situations. And so I love the fact that we invested the time and energy to go through that seminar lab
last year. Um, we actually launched another seminar this year, focusing on trust so often in issues that we’re addressing Um, We tend to think that um,
you know, Sometimes we layer we layer issues on, or we want to focus on just a Dei perspective when a lot of times we need to focus on. You know, personal skills of teammates. We need to focus on empathy. We need to focus on trust. We need to focus on communication. And so um,
I’m just really thankful that we bring being intentional to talk about. How do you build trust? How do you build trusted people, and it’s been really um. And I’ve been really impressed because people
it’s really resonating with people to talk about trust because we work in a financial institution. I mean, we’re dealing with people’s finances. We’re dealing with money. Banks need to be trust trustworthy, and our bank is actually rated very high in terms of trust from um consumers um based on Jd. Power. So it’s a topic that really resonates with people. And when you really dig down and you look at what trust is, and the behaviors that lead to trust. Um,
it helps you become a better manager. It helps you build stronger relationships with individuals. So I think that’s been really good um to have those conversations, and I I do think it’s important for me to say this. Um,
we value people at our bank. We are relationship driven in terms of bank and banking. Money is a commodity, and every bank, you know, has similar products. And so What distinguishes us is our people. And so we know that um relationships are so important. So we really value people. We believe in people. We trust people, and we always work to put people first. And so one of the things that we say is, we want to be a great place for great bankers to work,
just understanding how to take good care of our people has been really important. Um, I do want to point out some things that I think, are critical. Um. During Covid I think we did a phenomenal job of incentivizing people to get Covid shots, and we were offering one hundred dollar gift cards for people who gave us gave human resources a copy of their Covid cards. So it wasn’t. You know we weren’t mandating it. We were, you know, following the science, and we were incentivizing people to do this. Um! We also offered
child care stipends to employees. He made less than fifty thousand dollars um. Prior to Covid we did a pay equity study to see if there were gaps in terms of positions or regions or gaps in terms of gender or race. Um, i’m also really impressed. I’m a little bit embarrassed to say. But prior to this year we really we didn’t have a maternity leave policy. So we just implemented maternity leave policy where um our bankers, you know. If they’re adopting. If they’re a new father or a new mother
um, they’ll get. I think it’s um eight weeks of paid leave. Um, you know we definitely want to improve that. Not where we want to be. But i’m just thankful that we made that
commitment to do that. And so um, we have an employee appreciation month. We do a lot of wellness initiatives, and so I think the bank is really working to be intentional about how do we take care of our people? Um. And I think that’s really important in terms of a a a diversity perspective, and just showing and demonstrating that we really care um.
A few other things that I think are important to share. Um banking is a very highly regulated industry, and so i’m not sure if you’ve heard of the Um. Fdsc. Or maybe you’ve seen that your money is insured. Um! And so
um they the Fdsc. Um, the the House Finance Committee. Um the ctv um. These different organizations all have
um criteria that they’re using around diversity. Some things are mandatory. Some things are um voluntary, but we see a shift in regulation to where there’s going to be a more of an emphasis on um hiring more of an emphasis on Who are you lending money to um, more of an emphasis of Who are you doing business with? Who are you partnering with in terms of vendors. How much money are you spending and marketing with minority marketing organizations? And so, um! We
definitely want to be ahead of the curve, and we want to do things because it’s the right thing to do, and not because it’s um mandated. And so i’m very fortunate in the role that i’m in. I have an opportunity to sit in on our um
fair Lending Committee, where we’re very intentional, where we have to look at um. What markets. Are we lending money to um? Who who’s receiving credit? Who’s being rejected? Um. I also server on our community reinvestment at task force, and that’s um legislation that was honestly created um to help remedy and rectify redlining. That occurred where banks were, you know, literally making red lines and community and not lending money to certain groups. And so there was legislation around
that to ensure that we’re providing financial services and all the communities that we serve. Um, So I do want to pause again, and now I gave you all a lot of information, but I want to hear if you have any questions, or if you have any comments. I appreciate, Dr. Sims put in a link to boundary spanning. Um. I really like the center for creative leadership. I think they have a lot of good easy to use resources sometimes. The products maybe a little bit expensive, but I think the content tends to be really good.
And um, Allison, thanks for porting that, pointing out about empathy. Um, I can’t just stress how important that is, and i’m very fortunate my leadership team.
Um, And quite frankly, it’s um comprised of older white men who’ve spent their time in banking, but they are definitely good empathetic leaders who have really positive lived experiences across the country around the world. And um they focus on learning and getting better, and it’s their empathy and their desire to do better and be better. That really helps this organization um thrive so I I can’t. I can’t. Um,
you know, commend them enough for being empathetic and visionary, and willing to invest resources and making a difference in our d I efforts
any questions or comments.
Um, I just wanted to say uh in my company right now we’re dealing with
um trying to. Well, i’m dealing with, trying to explain to c-suite
why it’s important to like prioritize diversity, and making people feel like they’re important and and incentives and things like that. So what you were just saying is what I’ve been trying to tell them.
Um, so it’s good hearing it from a professional as well just go. Okay. Yeah. So I was right with that. Yes. So I definitely commend you. And I mean, that’s tough, you know, from my perspective, we’re beyond making the business case, and it’s very difficult, and it can be frustrating when you’re working to convince somebody, and so I will say the reason I was willing to. I mean, I made a complete industry change to come into banking. I didn’t know anything about banking before I came here, but the reason I came was because I recognize, and I met with
the executive team in two thousand and nineteen. How committed they were, and I didn’t have to convince them, or I didn’t have to sell them. They wanted to do something, but they just didn’t know what to do, and so you know. Sometimes I think the organization and the people in the organization. And of course C-suite makes a big difference. And so you know, i’m not sure what your experience is, or you know. Kind of chuckled a little bit. It seemed like it might be a little bit difficult, but you know,
maybe you should start looking for an organization that you know you don’t need to convince them, because in your work will be a lot easier. Or if you’re motivated and passionate, to be at a place where you, you know you want to say, hey? I really want to help make a change and make a difference here. You know. I think that’d be a great fit for you. Just depends on what works for you. Um, I will say I like being in a an organization in a place where I don’t have to spend a lot of time convincing. I can, you know, share with them some ideas, and they’re like, sure run with it. And So I think that’s been really
rewarding, and we have over. We have about three thousand bankers um across our footprint, and it’s been really rewarding in the past two years to see how much of a difference has been made in terms of hiring more um bankers from underrepresented groups. Um actually um opening branches and low to moderate income communities or creating programs or building partnerships with community organizations. It’s just been very rewarding to see that happen in a short amount of time,
because I don’t have to spend the time convincing. I just need to say, Hey, these are the resources that we need. Can we move forward or not, and then we’ll we’ll make that decision
hang in there, though
Um! So what type of experiential um experiential training do we use? So?
Oh, i’m sorry Were you about to say something
so in terms in terms of training. Um, you know, as you can imagine, sometimes training at organizations is not the best um, particularly when you’re trying to deliver it to a large number of people. Um! One of the things that we use as a system called bbs. So it’s video based um training, and it’s not. It’s not awful. I think it gets the point across um. But what I’ve really enjoyed um is doing the seminars with our senior leadership team. And so we’re looking at. What can we do um
to expand those seminars? Um! Another thing that we’ve been working to do is focus on local markets and encourage them to connect with cultural events.
Um. Encourage them to connect with organizations. Um from different groups. Um to build partnerships and relationships, encourage our bankers to serve on boards that they may not typically serve on um. We definitely have a very learning focused culture here at the bank, and so we do a lot of book studies. Um! That’s been really impressive to me. I I wasn’t expecting to work at an organization. My Ceo is a a um
avid reader, and I mean he probably reads like fifteen to twenty books per year, and not only does he read those books, but he’ll share those book recommendations um with our teams and with our senior leadership team Um actually gives um senior leaders a twenty-five dollars gift card to Amazon to get a book of their choice which absolutely love. I love books. Um!
So we are still working to see. How can we improve um learning opportunities. Um. Another thing that you know Isn’t directly training, but it’s about relationship building um. We’ve tried to get different markets to start doing it out to lunch program Where? Um once a month. Um! You get a group of people from different positions, different branches, different backgrounds to go out and try a new restaurant, so they can just build relationships. So
um, you know, just working to do that and move move the needle um, and of course going to different conferences. Um, And I see Katie wrote that they started book studies. Um, I love that, too. That’s awesome.
Any other questions.
Are there any specific conferences that you highly recommend for someone? That’s um kind of getting into the Dei space. My workplace is definitely trying as hard as they can with some um programs that we’re starting up. But there, aren’t necessarily any um extremely formal opportunities internal just yet. Um, it’s more so. Kind of, you know, workshops and things like that. So curious. If there’s any specific
conferences that you recommend, or um that we should try to take advantage of
absolutely. Um. So
I think it’ll It’ll vary depending on what industry you’re in. I would highly encourage you to find whatever your national organization is. Typically, there is a a diversity subcommittee. I would encourage that. Um, I’ve noticed a lot of chambers have started doing diversity events. I think those are really good. Um
me. Personally, I like the center for creative leadership. They have some different um diversity workshops and trainings. Um, I I feel bad. I can’t think of like a broad conference like a general conference. I think it’s very nuanced, depending on what industry that you’re in,
and if you want to um connect with me, i’m on Linkedin, or If you want to send me an email, i’ll be happy to like brainstorm and kind of research. Um, with you some opportunities that you can take um advantage of
awesome. Thank you so much that was really helpful. You’re welcome. And I saw Dr. Sims asked, How do we leverage employee resource groups? So
we just hired a new director of Hr. Um in January of this year, and um she is interested in starting employee resource groups. So at this point we Don’t have an erg. We have our power Review Council, but I think one of the things that’s really impressive that we do. There is an employee engagement survey that we administer every eighteen months. And we look at that data Um, based on different dimensions of diversity.
And uh, we pulled together groups like focus groups to talk about that data and how we can improve the culture and the work environment and our senior leaders and our leadership teams. Um, They review that data, and they slice it and dice it in so many different ways, so they can get a better understanding of what we need to do. Um, to improve the culture at the bank so hopefully, maybe within the next twelve to eighteen months I might be able to say, Hey, we’ve, you know, launched some ergs, but um our our new uh
Hr Vp: kind of hit the ground running this year, and so I I know that’s something that’s on her radar.
Are you all hiring?
I love it. Yay, um, yes. If you go to ….i. Um, we definitely have a lot of positions, and one of the things i’ll also share with you all that’s been impressive with me. Um! I’ve noticed that there are people you know, who start off with high school diplomas, and they’ve been able to advance to high levels. Um! It wasn’t as if you know. Oh, you only have to have, you know a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. So I love that they’re willing to to start with people from different education backgrounds. I’ve also seen people from
different industries come in myself as an example coming from higher education. And so you know I love that. Um, we’re open to talent. We’re looking for character. We’re looking for people who um aspire to um excellence and want to do well and so definitely go to our website. And if you see an opportunity that you’re interested in. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’ll help you navigate as much as possible. But um! I know we’re always looking for people great people on the front line and our branches, and of course we have marketing, and we have it, and we have Hr: So I think there’s a
a lot of opportunity at the main, and we’re on a growth trajectory. We’re we’re growing and we’re acquiring different banks.
I I love that you mentioned that you had support and buy in from leadership there, and I just know in my professional life that has been my biggest
obstacle, you know, and especially after I start uh the clumps and program. I start having all these ideas or understanding what I needed to be doing in Hr. And I realized, you know, like you said. You know I don’t want easy,
but it is impossible. When you work for an organization where the leadership will not buy in, they will not change. They will not listen to you and um. I just changed jobs eight weeks ago, and I had been out there for fifteen years, and and I can promise you.
Had I not been going to Clemson, and learned and saw everything I had, I I don’t know that I would have realized that I had to make that change I probably just would have thrown in the towel. But I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want that push back anymore. I don’t want it for fifteen more years,
so I just it jumped out of me that you said that you had by and leadership there. I I just think that’s great.
Yeah, congratulations. And I mean hats off to you for being willing to take that risk after such a long time. And you know what I tell people I mean, even myself, in my own career trajectory. I’ve worked with several different organizations, and I think that’s also been a benefit for me to work with different people to see how different organizations operate. And I think sometimes you just have to be willing to take that leap and take a chance to go somewhere else and find the culture. That’s right for you, You know there’s a culture for everyone, and sometimes the organization that you’re at may not be it. And
the thing that I’ve learned the most is leadership at the top matters, and the person that you report to matters a lot
absolutely. Yeah. So um, how my department is organized and staff. So
it’s been great. Um. Starting a new department. So when I started in August twenty twenty um. I was a department of one and um, you know, it was really important for me to demonstrate that I was capable of doing a job, and that my um leaders could trust me, and so um
it was me by myself until about I would say
February of, or March of two thousand and twenty-one.
I hired my first teammate um a a program coordinator. Um! She stayed a little bit less than a year. Um organization was not a good fit for her, and so I helped her. Um exit the organization. I think it’s really important when people aren’t um performing or um people aren’t um,
you know, motivated to do their job. You want the resources. It’s important that you help them find a place where where it works for them. Um! But I hired my first program manager um in March of two thousand and twenty-one.
She’s here she’s doing a phenomenal! And then I was able to hire um.
Oh, goodness! I’ve hired two other people since then I cannot remember their higher days. Please forgive me, but right now um! I am a department of four, and so it’s been great. So I’ve gone, you know, Two years I’ve been able to hire three additional people, and the way we uh coordinate um the the department that we have um one of my program managers. She has a nonprofit background, and she actually does the day to day for our foundation and for our together for
um. She’s really big on volunteerism. She has experience coordinating um volunteer groups, and she’s done a phenomenal job. Um, We’ve identified. Thank you. We’ve identified five days of service, and we call them good days. One of our tag lines at our bank is together for good, and so um Mlk day is a good day. Um. Financial literacy month. There’s in April There’s a day where we focus on teaching children to save,
and then we have
nine eleven day of Service World Animal Day. I know that might sound bizarre, but we did a community engagement survey, and we found out that our bankers love animals. And So again, we want to support our teammates and what they’re interested in. And so we designated that as a day of service they absolutely love it,
and then Veterans Day. So I think it’s important for me to share the culture around that. That’s been a phenomenal
um initiative. And so that program manager runs that. Then my other program manager, she’s over our Leadership Academy, and she’s also over the marketing and communications she partners with our marketing team, because, as you can imagine the nature of the work that we do. There’s just a lot of communications around um
uh the activities we’re doing out in the community. And then the other position. Um, She’s actually coordinating our junior boards. She just started three months ago, really happy to have her on it on the team. We want to highlight and elevate the work of our junior boards some more. And she’s also going to be the person who’s coordinating the day to day logistics of the power of you. So um! That’s a small but mighty team and um i’m definitely in the process of advocating for some additional research.
Um, there’s more that we could do um to help with kind of the
Community Reinvestment act, and fair lending and and partner with some other people, if we had some additional support. So i’m i’m excited about what our future growth may look like. And um, Sydney, thank you so much. I think. Um the growth was there, because again the bank and the leadership team was um willing and committed to the work. Um! But also I was able to prove in a short amount of time that um I was action oriented, and I was able to help execute something. So I think that was really important. Um! So Dr. Sims also asks
how we went about creating our De Ib plan. So
I think again, this is really unique to our bank. I think every organization has their own unique philosophy about how they approach this work. And so we don’t have a separate plan. Um! What we do is we make sure we’re looking at our
growth roadmap, and we’re looking at our strategic plans. And we’re looking at our tactics, and we look at them through a de lens. And so i’m thankful that you know it’s not a separate document. Um, I’m actually trying to pull up um
a little chart I have, so I can go through a little bit. Um. We don’t have a separate document, you know. Diversity, equity, and inclusion is included in our daily operations and our strategic plan. But here are some of the things that we’re focusing on. Um. I I told you we do the the leadership um seminars, but we’re using our Eeo data um to create actionable um hiring plans.
I think it was a year ago. This is after I started. Um. We didn’t have hr dashboards that talked about
race gender um ability thing, veteran status things like that. And so i’m really thankful that our our board had the foresight to say, Hey, we need dashboards that give us this information. And so we’re looking at that. And we’re looking at areas where we have under representation or over representation. So um, for example, um, as you all may know or imagine, like we go into a bank branch a lot of times. It’s run by women. They’re women, branch managers, um tellers
um, and so under representation at a branches. We need more men there. But if you look at our executive leadership team, our senior leadership team is male, dominated, And so what does um representation look like for each market? Some markets? We have more diversity in terms of race. And so we’re. We’re working to be very specific about that. Another thing is using that employee engagement survey data. Um, we do that every eighteen months, and we take that information, and we look at it through the different dimensions
of diversity, to see what our bank culture um looks like for each of those groups, and how we can change it. Um, We did our pay Equity study, and that’s something that we do, I think, every two years. Yes, i’m very happy, and that was something that was started before I was here. You know we wanted to make sure that they there weren’t disparities and gaps. And what are we going to do to
rectify those, and I will share that we did a cost of living increase recently due to inflation. And so that was something that was really important, particularly for our frontline team members. Um, Also, we’re looking at the products that we offer in the vendors that we use. So we’re very intentional about looking through that lens, and I think that’s about it right now. Um. And of course, with our regulators they’re they’re constantly um looking at and asking us for information
based on different dimensions of diversity. So you know, i’m proud that this isn’t something that’s separate from, or something that’s on a shelf. This is something that we do on a day to day, and we’re intentional about looking at um all the work that we do through a d allens versus keeping it separate from the word. So that was a really good question,
and I just will ask one other question, or ask you to share, because I know that you have not only do you do a lot of work um within the bank, but you also are on boards outside of the bank, where you talk a little bit about that.
Yeah, Absolutely. So. Um. Just from my personal perspective, it’s very important for me to get back to the community. I just don’t based on my background. My parents had me when when they were teenagers. I’m. First, Gen. There are a lot of community organizations that help me and support me and get me um where I am today. And so um i’m currently the Vice chair of the Community Impact Committee at the Greenville United Way. Um, i’m really enjoying my service at the United Way because they’re focused on economic mobility. And, you know, specific tab
to help more people Um,
just become financially stable. And and, you know, be able to um improve their circumstances. So that’s really exciting for me. Um! I also serve on the
um Upstate Urban League board. Um, I serve on that board because the Columbia Urban League helped me when I was in high school and helped me in college. And so the Urban League um primarily focuses on um issues and underrepresented communities. Specifically, folks in African American meat communities. But um pretty much all. And so, um! That’s been really exciting for me one of the things i’m very proud of at the bank for Mlk Day we make a charitable contribution to all the urban leagues in our footprint.
And so that’s been really personally um satisfying for me to be able to to give back. And what we, as those urban leads to do is to use those funds for um home first time homeowner um workshops or using it for entrepreneurs. And so we’re We’re trying to target those funds
towards programs again that help with economic mobility. But then, also, more importantly, we want our bankers to take their expertise to the Urban League as well and help with programs. So um! I’ve been really proud with that, and I look forward to seeing how that continues to grow over the years. Um! Two other boards that hasn’t been announced yet. But um i’m on it. I just started on the i’m about to start on the South Carolina Humanities Board, and that’s really important to me because I think it speaks to um human connectedness,
and you know, telling stories and helping people. Um, just connect through music and the arts and through literature. And so I think that one’s personally satisfying. I think my liberal arts education help me develop an appreciation for just people and culture, and I think we need to get back to that, because that’s what it’s all about. So really excited about um that and um, I definitely encourage you all to get involved each of those boards that i’m on. I learned something. I meet new people. I’m looking at things through a different lens,
and it’s helping me improve as a professional, and it’s also helping me improve the community as well. So I love it and thank you, Dr. Sims.
So in terms of board opportunities. Oh, great! I forget that all of you all taken the idea! I really like the idea. I’m glad crimson. Um. I was a part of the group that helped bring that to campus. And so it’s just very rewarding to see that tool being used. Um in terms of boards. I think it’s important to build relationships in the community and know how you can add value. Um, also reach out. If there’s an organization that you’re interested in, go start to volunteer with them. Um, and see what the process is to get on the board.
Also depending on where you live. There are a lot of organizations, I mean where there’s a lot united way or a chamber that are that have created programs to help you be prepared to serve on a board, and so that’s an opportunity for you to get um plugged into a group where they may, you know, look for names. But I would just encourage you to to, you know, to to go to an organization that you’re passionate about and start, you know, just showing up participating, volunteering, and it may turn into a board opportunity. Or you may be able to serve on
a committee or a task force, and the thing is a lot of non-profit organizations need help. So if you have a particular skill set. More than likely they’re not going to turn you away, and more than likely over time they’ll see the value that you add, and they’ll invite you to serve on the board. But that’s great. That’s one of your goals.
This is just been so wonderful. Having you here. I want to be respectful of your time. Uh. So maybe one or two other questions, and I know some of you specifically. Um, we’re sort of uh
trying to figure out how you can bring um, maybe, Di, to your organization. So don’t be shy. This is a great opportunity,
and I would say, if you’re working to bring the to your organization. I mean, that could look different. I mean, you know, if you have, if you have leaders who may be, you know not as open to it. I mean you could do something as simple as maybe starting a book club or inviting a speaker, or, you know, coordinating a a lunch to get the conversation going or or coordinated trip. Um, you know, to go to a museum or talk about a particular topic. I mean, there. There are things that you can do within your sphere of influence. I mean, you could create a book list or a newsletter
for email um. You can reach out to human resources and see how you can be involved.
Some type of um, some dimension of diversity at your organization. You can start, you know, identifying talent and helping connect them to Hr. The job opportunity. So I feel like sometimes you might have to be a little bit creative. Um! And you know. Again, if you’re trying to convince somebody, it might take a while to start that conversation, to share resources, share information. But I think a great way is to figure out what they value and help them understand. There’s an opportunity for you to leverage diversity. Sometimes people
to look at diversity from a def deficit perspective. But I think if you’re able to show people how it adds value or to net positive um, I think that makes a big difference, and you know, as we all know, there’s talent everywhere. Um, you know there may not always be opportunity. But um, you know there there are ways that you can help your organization See, you know, by partnering with or tapping into a particular group how it can make them stronger,
and also it doesn’t hurt to look at peer organization. So if you’re in a particular industry, look at what your peers are doing, and you know a lot of people are doing diversity different. But if you can show, hey, this is what our competitor is doing. This is what our peer is doing. This is what’s happening in our industry. Um, that’s another way to help as well. Um! There’s still peer pressure in the corporate world as well.
One last question.
Well, I’ve definitely enjoyed talking to you all. As I mentioned, I am on Linkedin. If you would um like to keep in touch or connect with me, please send the invitation, or if you would like to um email me. I’m happy to schedule a time to talk and and help. However, I can. But um again, I love this class. I think you’re all going to learn, or probably have already learned, a lot of practical um tips that will help you, and you know, no matter what? No, Keep in mind. That change takes time. Um! I like to look at change in like a twenty years
twenty five year cycle. I know. That seems super long. It really is. But you you are making a difference, and every little bit matters, and we just have to be persistent. And sometimes we just have to look back and see how far our country has come. Um! We’ve come a long way, really, in a short amount of time. If if you think about it? Um. So just stay encouraged. Stay positive, and you know, find the the best you know place for you to make a difference in a way that’s meaningful for you. So really enjoyed it. And I wish all of you all the best of luck. And, as always, Dr. Sims, I appreciate
Thank you all for uh participating. And um, I hope that you can see why I wanted you to meet uh um more. Your Jackson. She is just
a powerhouse, and it was definitely Clumsy’s lost, and uh uh the Community Bank. Uh snapped her up, and she is just been going game busters ever since. Um, i’ll tell a story. Um! When I was prior to joining Clemson.
Um, I was in corporate, and I was also part of the financial Services fortune, one hundred company, and upon getting there they too, ended up with an instance
uh where they had a redlining complaint. And so and only were they, uh found to be redlining. And for those of you. Who um! How many of you know what redlining is?
So um back in the day. Um literally where you could live and where people would loan would be um. They would take out a pin on a map, and or typically for place people uh
communities of color, they would draw a red line and say, We will not. Um uh load. In these areas. We will not ensure people who live in these areas. So that’s why it’s called Redlining.
Um, i’ll tell a story. Um! My mother uh was a a widow. My dad was a policeman in Chicago,
and he was killed in the line of duty when we were very young. And so you know, you don’t think about things as a child. Um! But I started to think about as an adult now. How did my mother? Um in the middle of last century?
And um, and I remember as a kid we would go, and we would literally go to the other side of Chicago, and she would go and pay the mortgage, and I said, Why, how did this? How did you get this house?
And she said that when my father died? Um, Mayor Daley at the time said, if there was ever anything you need call me. And she called up and said, I need a mortgage, and that’s how she got the mortgage to the house,
she would never have gotten it otherwise.
um but um all that to say so. That’s the practice of headlining, and so um! When I joined the company. They had this consent decree, which means no harm, no file. We’re not going to admit to wrong doing. But in the agreement with the us Justice Department. They had to do certain things in order to fulfill the consent decree. And so that’s how I ended up coming. Involved in terms of we had to essentially
put together an entire training program working with consultants for everybody in the organization
and um literally um. The organization changed as a result of that pivotal moment. Um! And we ended up with a new director of human resources and sales groups. We uh really revamped our program, and even though It was a very painful experience for the organization initially, and there was a lot of resistance. But the organization
ended up, and I could see in that fifteen year spam that I was there, How much the organization changed because of it, and for the better, and how much um it improved in terms of its community relationships.
Um! How it viewed itself the communities it would go after it became much more profitable because they expanded their base um as well as it was the right thing to do so.
All that to say, you know you can take bad situations, sort of making eliminated out of lemons, and so I have personally seen growth, and so that fifteen year trajectory really is a It could be a real thing.
Um. And so uh, you just have to, you know, keep putting one foot in front of the other. So with that being said, Um, I am going to um uh stop talking, and it’s seven, forty.
Um, really, that was the extent of what I wanted to do. I could give you some uh opportunity. I was speaking um with the if you all wanted to discuss possible ideas for your idi plans as a group that you could do that.
Um! So. Um I will, so you can just let me know if that’s something you’d like to do uh put you in your group so you can start that. Or if you have questions around that, So What’s your preference?
Okay? How many want to have a group discussion around your Ibi plans for your group plans that’s coming up for next Week’s show of hands.
We we were meeting after this class, anyway, to do that. Okay, all right. So it sounds like you all have a plan. So I will let you execute against that plan. But if you have specific questions for me,
um feel free to reach out to me. I just want to say um. I applaud you all, though, uh level of effort that you all put into your individual idi plans were fabulous. So if you might be a little too ambitious. Um so. Um! But uh um! I really uh want to applaud you for what you have done. Um being on parts of a board, you know. And what more your
that was so true. I love art. You make People may not know that about me. I go to every art. There.
Um go to our new zooms, and so I kept showing up. And um my uh executive vice President at the time. Whenever we were out we’d see each other. And So next thing I know she’s calling me up and say, you know I was approached. We needed a board member. That’s how I got my first board member. Um uh position is. She recommended me because I kept showing up the same events, and they needed a board member, and she says, Well, do you want to do it.
So. Um! Those are things that I would definitely um
suggest you. You consider um One of the things that one of my friends does is if you’re on Twitter, um or linkedin start following people. It’s amazing. You start following people. People will start following, you,
you know, So it’s always a way just to have those communications Um. So showing up in service. And, as I said, be careful what you wish for You’re just going to hang out and love our next thing. No, you got a job.
Alright, so all right. Well, everybody had a wonderful evening, you know where I live. I will be here through Monday.
Um! And then I will be um over water and traveling for about two days. Um! I lose a day because they’re literally sixteen hours ahead, but I will surface. So if you send a note um, I will respond, and I will also um put in a um video. Um uh talking about the next assignment that you all have, which is going to be on your uh journal Articles
critique, you know, put you all in pairs for a reason. So um, I want you all to actually have a conversation about that. So thank you, Allison. So um
uh i’m gonna go play with the Kiwis and Um, which, as you all, my daughter lives in New Zealand, she and her husband, and so there’s lots of floor and fauna that I’ve never seen before. They have no natural predators. So there’s all these birds species, and they’re outdoor people. So they’re taking me hiking. So pray for me. So
i’m from Chicago. I don’t know how this happened, but we’ll do that well, and my daughter also. She’s. I don’t know if you all know that she’s in viticulturist. She went there to get uh uh to focus on wine making, and so she makes wide, and so she has invented. So we’ll be visiting the um
doing that, too. So um! So it’ll be interesting. So I haven’t seen her, and it’s been almost three years, so it’s gonna be wonderful. So