Black History Month is an opportunity for financial institutions everywhere to recognize and honor the incredible contributions African Americans have made to strengthen the communities and industries in which we serve.
In honor of Black History Month, OnCourse Learning is highlighting resources that financial institutions can use to celebrate this important month, raise awareness and act on their Diversity and Inclusion workplace initiatives.
Act on Your Website
An important way to honor Black History Month is through education. Education for not only your employees, but also your customers and members. Some of the largest banks in the U.S. have added dedicated pages on their websites to help educate the meaning and importance of Black History Month.
- U.S. Bank created a ‘splash’ page that acknowledges the month’s observance and invites visitors into being part of the legacy.
- PNC added a dedicated page on their website titled “Black History & Heritage.” This page not only highlights their commitment to diversity and inclusion but also highlights historical stories and a community spotlight in banking.
- Several financial institutions including Seattle Credit Union and VacationLand Federal Credit Union have taken Black History Month as an opportunity to share their voices in a blog on their website. You could share black history or you could highlight key happenings in your own community that honor the month.
- New American Funding has published an infographic putting spotlights on some of their exceptional black team members who are making things happen in a big way.
Look in Your Own Community
Financial institutions across the country have many amazing black-owned and operated businesses or non-profits right in their own communities. Take the month of February as a time when you can highlight these leaders on your social media, on your website and even within your building.
Here are some examples of how financial institutions have looked to their community during Black History Month:
- In honor of Black History Month, U.S. Bank highlighted the efforts of three nonprofit organization leaders who are creating education and entrepreneurship opportunities for black members of their communities.
- Last year, TD Bank’s celebration of Black History Month introduced their Diversity & Inclusion theme for 2020, The Power of Our Stories, which highlighted their efforts of their colleagues and customers and celebrated their partnerships. John Patton, TD Bank’s U.S. Diversity & Inclusion Lead, offers more insight in his article on LinkedIn.
Empower Your Own Employees
Last year, as a lead into Black History Month, Barclays asked colleagues from across the bank to share what the month means to them and why it’s crucial to not only take time during February but also throughout the year. They took their responses and compiled them into a blog to be shared internally and externally.
Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the amazing contributions and challenges of black people throughout history, to highlight the voices yet to be heard and the stories yet to be told.
Annika Allen, Content Manager for Global Diversity and Inclusion at Barclays
Nerdwallet and MoneyLion turned to influential black leaders in finance, asking them to reflect on lessons they learned over the past decade. Do you have black leaders within your organization that you can look to for lessons and reflections? Round up their insight into a blog post or article, include their photos and share with your internal and external audiences.
Education & Literature
Historically, history classes often focus on the victories of white men – but that’s only part of the story. Give some thought to how you can better educate your staff on unsung heroes in black history. The History Makers offers a video on “Blacks in Finance: A Rich History” that can be helpful when pulling together content. This could be in the format of lunch and learns, or an internal email campaign. Get creative and drive engagement by making free Kahoot quizzes that accompany the lessons.
Another way to celebrate Black History Month in your financial institution is through literature. Hold a book study during the month of February where you focus on a black author. Our article “How to Jump Start a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in the Workplace” has a list of suggested books.
Strive to be more purposeful in attracting, engaging and growing more diverse talent at your institution. Embrace the value and strength of differences to foster an all-inclusive workplace. Through self-assessments and organizational commitment, you can better understand your current organization’s cultural profile – and adjust both your hiring and training program to exhibit the importance of diversity and inclusion across the organization.
Take action and complete an organizational self-assessment, such as the Organizational Self-Assessment inside the Race Matters Toolkit by Annie E. Casey Foundation. This assessment evaluates staff competencies and organizational policies and practices for the capacity to produce an opportunity for all.
Look to Outside Resources to Better Educate Yourself and Your Team
You don’t have to have all the answers to honor Black History Month. Sometimes it’s better to look to others for insight, education and accurate facts.
The Credit Union National Association published a leadership blog titled “Serving the underserved and increasing diversity.” This article provides an overview to the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC). The AACUC is a non-profit organization of African-American professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry. The organization supports programs that help to expand the interest and increase the number of minorities in the credit union community. In fact, the AACUC has a substantial resource library that includes helpful podcasts, posters, books and articles.
Another resource, McKinsey & Company published an insightful article on the lack of financial inclusion for black Americans. The article provides information to further understand the sources of exclusion.
The Adtalem Way
As part of the Adtalem Global Education family, we often look to our diverse leadership on how to live out our diverse and inclusive culture.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) are foundational to the culture at Adtalem. Our leadership team members have become thought leaders in the DE&I space by advocating for a more diverse workforce and putting our DE&I commitments into action.
Chairman and CEO Lisa Wardell outlines the importance of providing access to education to close the racial gap in healthcare in her LinkedIn article, “Creating a More Equitable and Effective Society Through Access to Education.” Lisa explains how Adtalem is expanding access to education for underserved students and people of color, as a way of diversifying the healthcare field and addressing the healthcare disparities in our society.
Stephen Beard, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Adtalem, was featured in the Chicago Tribune article, “In 2020 companies took up the cause of racial equity. Now the challenge is accountability. ‘It really starts from the top,“ and the Crain’s Chicago Business article, “Chicago’s C-suite Challenge” discussing Adtalem’s diverse leadership team and the importance of diverse leadership in creating a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce.
No matter how you plan to honor Black History Month, the important part is to join the conversation. As an organization, OnCourse Learning hopes that this resource will help your institution engage in meaningful conversations not only during February, but for the months to come.