It’s time to put words into action for diversity, equity and inclusion

As I reflect on the tragic death of George Floyd and many others, it’s clear that the business community, including financial services, must redouble its efforts to promote social justice, combat all forms of discrimination and create more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces.

Now is the time for every individual and every organization to increase their actions, both large and small. Simply stating you have a goal of a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce is no longer enough. The best financial services organizations embrace diversity – they provide equal opportunities and fair compensation for all, and they genuinely invite the contributions of everyone in the organization to influence its direction.

To help financial services leaders more effectively create welcoming workplace cultures, BAI is enhancing its research, training and thought leadership programs, and is using its industry connections to help leaders drive their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

Data and analytics are the foundation needed to objectively understand effectiveness and define the path forward. BAI has long provided financial services leaders with data and analytics to make smart business decisions through industry benchmarking programs. This includes comparative peer analytics on various aspects of talent and diversity effectiveness.

Financial services leaders track their own organizational results, but BAI provides the broader context that helps leaders see how they are performing relative to their peers. When combined with our BAI Banking Outlook market research that illuminates broader industry issues and trends, BAI Banking Strategies daily newsletter, executive reports, podcasts, webinars and other thought leadership content, the cumulative effect is a unique value at a time when financial services leaders are increasingly focused on building and nurturing a more diverse, equitable and inclusive culture.

The business benefits for companies with diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces are indisputable: they out-recruit, out-collaborate, out-innovate and outperform other organizations. They meet employee, customer and shareholder expectations. Leaders in diverse organizations make better decisions, achieve broader goals and deliver stronger results. And most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

Here are highlights of BAI’s diversity, equity and inclusion programs:

  • Our BAI Executive Roundtable portfolio has expanded to include a group for chief diversity officers and other senior-level leaders who will come together on a regular basis to openly discuss key issues and challenges and share insights, beginning with a virtual meeting at the end of June. Collaboration at this level will make a big difference in how the industry can drive positive change.
  • BAI is known for its research. As part of our BAI Banking Outlook research, we will share fresh, market research and insights on issues in diversity, equity and inclusion from the perspectives of both financial services HR professionals and employees. This actionable information will be available beginning in July in a variety of formats, including webinars, podcasts and research reports.
  • Earlier this year, we enhanced the existing diversity-related metrics in the BAI Talent Benchmarking program to help financial services leaders better understand how their diversity efforts are performing relative to their peers. These reports are now available.
  • Through our BAI Banking Strategies thought leadership platform, we will continue to cover key issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, including best practices to help leaders as they build and execute strategic plans.
  • And as a leading resource for online training, BAI’s courseware has consistently included a number of learning modules dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion. Last year, BAI added a course on Diversity and Innovation to its Leadership Innovation Library, highlighting the importance of diversity as financial services leaders build a culture of innovation within their organizations. Our courseware is continuously updated to meet the needs of the industry, and we will continue to add to the training resources on DEI to support leaders as they identify new needs within their organizations.

While there is much more work to be done, I am heartened by the many leaders in financial services across the country who are taking meaningful steps to accelerate their efforts.

For instance, U.S. Bank just announced its commitment to refine its talent management strategy to develop and promote people of color into leadership roles. U.S. Bank also says it will increase its loans to black-owned businesses by $100 million, and it has pledged to award $15 million in community grants to organizations dedicated to addressing racial and economic inequality.

In a letter to employees, CEO Andy Cecere wrote: “We talk about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion as a society, but it is hard to say progress is being made when these are the headlines dominating the news. We have to do better, and I believe we can start right here at the bank.”

I wholeheartedly agree with Andy and the many other industry leaders who are taking action in their companies. The hard work ahead begins with each organization and each individual within that organization.

This is important work, and it’s work for which BAI has doubled down on our commitment to provide leaders throughout the industry with powerful tools, trusted information and meaningful connections as they actively increase their efforts to drive change in their organizations and collaborate to be better as an industry.

We can be better. Together we can and must make a difference.

 

Debbie Bianucci is president and CEO of BAI.