7 Calls to Action: A Banker's Advice to The Industry

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7 Calls to Action: A Banker's Advice to The Industry

As racial injustice has hit mainstream media and largely garnered the attention of the world after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, many people find themselves in conversations where the topic is race relations. In the past week, many black professionals in banking have been approached by colleagues asking what they can do to drive change. After working in banking for almost 15 years and having many conversations with finance professionals of all ethnicities, I've enlisted the following call to action for industry professionals who want to make a difference.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

If you're a white person, challenge yourself to have authentic conversations about the issues at hand.  Engage in discussions with your black colleagues about unconscious bias and inclusion. It's very easy to turn the other cheek and ignore what you haven’t invested the time to try to understand. Understanding leads to care. Care leads to action. In this day and age, we need action.

For example, you can have genuine conversations about the things that black people have to worry about that white people never have to consider. I know of black people in finance who have to coach their children on how to act, dress, speak, and present themselves just to ensure that they are not racially profiled, discriminated against or judged.  This is the difference between being black in America and white privilege.

Establish a platform where people can contribute ideas on how to increase diversity and inclusion  

If you're a white person, challenge yourself to have authentic conversations about the issues at hand.  Engage in discussions with your black colleagues about unconscious bias and inclusion. It's very easy to turn the other cheek and ignore what you haven’t invested the time to try to understand. Understanding leads to care. Care leads to action. In this day and age, we need action.

Foster allyship and mentorship 

Create black resource groups of both mentors from within the black community and allies who support. These groups are a great networking opportunity for people that don’t usually work together or look alike to meet, interact, and develop relationships.

Recruit from historically black colleges and universities (HBCU)

When looking to increase diversity within your organization, there is no better place to look than up-and-coming graduates. Firms should look at historically black colleges as a great resource for college recruiting. Some of the top predominantly black universities include Howard University, Morehouse College and Spelman College.  There are countless others across the country offering a wealth of diverse talent.

Implement mandatory unconscious bias training across the industry 

Some firms already conduct training on this very important topic however, mandatory training on leading diverse teams and unconscious bias is essential. Systematic racism is often taught at home or in communities and many people are unaware of the biases they have absorbed. Individuals in leadership roles especially should ensure their biases have been addressed head on.

Educate yourself on black history 

Having done your due diligence of researching, reading and studying black history allows you to better understand where your black colleagues are coming from and the passion that drives the movement behind Black Lives Matter. There are plenty of great books, podcasts, documentaries and movies to help you develop your understanding and to prepare you for authentic conversations. Please find recommendations below:

Books:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

Podcasts/TV Productions:

1619 - The New York Times

Intersectionality Matters! - Kimberle Crenshaw

Code Switch - NPR

A Class Divided - William Peters

Grapevine TV - Ashley Akunna

Movies/Documentaries:

13th - Ava Duvernay

When They See Us - Ava Duvernay

Just Mercy - Destin Daniel Cretton

Fruitvale Station - Ryan Coogler

Selma - Ava Duvernay

Check-in on black colleagues and see how they're doing

Consider how when COVID-19 occurred everyone around the world was affected and reaching out to see how we can support each other during a difficult time. Your black colleagues are experiencing both the impact of the pandemic as well as years of systemic racism. Hearing from you and knowing that you genuinely care goes a long way.  If you've laid the groundwork with the six actions above, then you will have a strong and sincere foundation based on a real understanding of the issues.  

Matthew C. Meade is a Financial Services Executive with several years of experience working with Fortune 100 companies in the Tri-State area. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Management from the University of Virginia and pursuing an Executive MBA Degree from NYU Stern School of Business with a concentration in innovation, strategy and leadership. Matthew is an author, motivational speaker, business owner, philanthropist and activist. He is passionately involved in several leadership activities including mentoring and coaching future generations. Matthew enjoys serving others and giving back to the community. 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

 

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