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Executive Letter: Creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy

Rose Oswald PoelsBy Rose Oswald Poels

This year, WBA formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Group of bankers from around the state to inform and propel our association’s efforts forward. One of the initiatives identified by the Advisory Group is supporting banks in developing and evolving their DEI policies. In my conversations with WBA members, it is evident that bankers understand that fostering a positive environment for all employees and customers is not only the right thing to do, but also a wise business decision that can improve talent recruitment and retention, spark innovation, and bolster your bottom line.

You don’t need to be an “expert” to start a DEI initiative at your bank. To paraphrase what one of our Advisory Group members so eloquently shared in a meeting, having the heart gives you the authority to speak on something you care about. Sincerity is key as people bring their own unique perspectives and learn from each other.

Banks across Wisconsin are at different stages in their DEI journeys, and the best approach often differs from one institution to another. For banks that are looking to put their values and commitment in writing, WBA and the DEI Advisory Group have created a customizable DEI Sample Policy. The sample policy is designed to serve as a template or discussion prompt to help banks develop and maintain a DEI framework that fits their organization’s specific mission, values, and strategy. Banks that already have a DEI policy in place may also find the sample policy useful as they regularly revisit and update their policy.

The DEI Sample Policy is one of the things you will find on WBA’s new DEI Resources webpage. We will continue to build this page out with more tools to help banks engage in DEI-related topics.

Please also consider participating or designating someone from your team to be involved in the new WBA Connect DEI peer group. Membership in the WBA Connect DEI group comes with access to the group’s exclusive online peer-to-peer listserv, and four peer connection meetings per year.

There are many facets of diversity, which span far beyond the quick definitions of race and gender. The attention we devote to DEI enriches our workplaces and communities. Thank you for all you are doing to reflect on your journey and take action to foster a culture of inclusiveness.