Executive Letter: Creating Safe and Meaningful Spaces
By Rose Oswald Poels
As part of WBA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) plan, I have been hosting monthly Employee Resource Group (ERG) calls allowing member bankers from historically underrepresented groups to have a forum to share ideas, issues, and advice in a safe, confidential environment. The meetings are never recorded to help ensure that conversations are kept private among those attending. Attendees from past ERG meetings — which began last June — are from all size banks across the state, including some that have their own ERG program.
Each meeting, I receive feedback on the structure, content, and timing of the meetings so that they evolve to be meaningful and relevant for the attendees. I leave each meeting feeling that we’ve provided value to the participants even when the conversations may have been difficult.
WBA’s monthly ERG meetings will continue in 2023 and, with the input from the participants, they will be a little more structured so they are meaningful, and bankers know in advance the topics that will primarily be discussed. I encourage you to share this opportunity with anyone in your bank who is in a historically underrepresented group as I know they will find value in the discussion.
For our January meeting, I am very excited to announce that Judge Derek Mosley, director of the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education at Marquette University Law School, will be joining us as our guest speaker. Judge Mosley recently spoke for WBA during a complimentary all-member webinar on Unconscious Bias and was very well-received. He will open the ERG meeting with a presentation on black history, focusing on the Things Your History Teacher Didn’t Tell You followed by time for open Q&A with forum participants.
The January ERG meeting will be held via Zoom on Friday, January 27 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. and there is no charge to participate. Please share the following link with your historically underrepresented staff and encourage them to sign up for the meeting: wisbank.com/community/dei/erg-signup/.
If the timing does not work for this meeting, WBA ERGs are held monthly and information regarding future meeting dates and topics is shared through our Wisconsin Banker Daily e-publication. I am incredibly proud of all the work WBA has been doing with guidance from our Board of Directors in the DEI space, and very excited about the mission of WBA’s ERG to date. With your encouragement to your staff to take advantage of this opportunity, I look forward to its continued growth and success this year!