When we take time to learn more about others, we often learn more about ourselves.
That was just one of the Aha! moments from “Stories Worth Sharing,” a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Network panel discussion Regions Bank’s Dallas market presented during Hispanic Heritage Month. But the session’s takeaways weren’t just limited to attendees. There were also valuable insights gained by Regions associates Carla Gale and Rudy Walker, who planned the event.
“We all need to take more time to get to know people who are different from us ethnically, culturally and who have different interests because it stretches us out of our comfort zones,” said Gale, a trust advisor with Regions Private Wealth Management. “Learning more about others can’t help but make us better at working together and delivering financial services to our customers.”
“We should be proud of who we are and join in celebrating others,” added Walker, the North Texas consumer banking manager for Regions, who is now embarking on a new leadership role in Regions’ Memphis market, where he will continue to build on his diversity, equity and inclusion work. “Celebrating others encourages them to believe in themselves.”
Regions’ market executive in Dallas, Tyrus Sanders, empowers local teams to take the lead in shaping diversity discussions among fellow team members.
“Experiences that broaden our horizons and challenge our thinking are always a positive thing,” said Sanders. “And when we encourage our associates to be part of creating and shaping those experiences for others, it creates a lasting, amplified effect.”
Sanders launched the Dallas DEI Network series by interviewing social justice trailblazer Opal Lee just days before Juneteenth was named a national holiday.
Regions Chief Financial Officer David Turner, the Executive Sponsor of the Dallas DEI Network, opened the second session, which featured four panelists:
While the theme centered on Hispanic Heritage Month, it addressed universal topics like business development, associate hiring and retention and mentoring.
Experiences that broaden our horizons and challenge our thinking are always a positive thing.
Tyrus Sanders, Regions’ market executive in Dallas
We sat down with Gale and Walker to learn more about their experience and what they hope others gained.
Why do you think it’s important for Regions to hold DEI sessions like this one?
Walker: It accelerates our curiosity and allows us to lean into discussions that may not always be comfortable. These conversations highlight the similarities we all have and allow our uniqueness to flourish.
Gale: It always gives you a much better understanding of who someone is if you know more about their background. It’s important to learn important details like where they grew up, how they grew up, what shaped their perceptions about family, friends, life and work. It offers insight into their personality and perspective.
What has remained with you from this panel discussion?
Walker: Hearing the panelists’ passion and their commitment to excellence and education was truly inspiring. This discussion also allowed me to build my confidence in dialoguing with my teammates.
Gale: How important befriending or mentoring a new associate is to their success at work, especially if they are from a different culture or background than you. It can be key to their happiness and longevity with a company. It was very interesting to learn more from Tatiana about the mentoring programs we have at Regions, including the BRAVE program, Diversity Network Mentoring Program and Expanding my Circle. It meant a lot to hear our external panelists recognize and applaud the actions we’ve taken in this area.
I also appreciated the comment that people want to feel like they can be their authentic selves at work and still belong. One panelist described a feeling of “being on the outside looking in” and mentioned the importance of working to create an environment where we make everybody feel like they’re a part of something. We all need to be more kind, understanding and curious to learn more about each other.
What do you hope this session will inspire you and your teammates to do in the future?
Walker: This isn’t something new for me, but my happiness for others sharing their stories is very important to me in having total satisfaction. I encourage my teammates to seek opportunities to hear stories from people who are different than they are as a way to keep growing.
Gale: I think it’s important that we continue educating each other. The world is changing, and we are learning and adapting to new things every day. I hope people will look for ways to embrace different cultures and backgrounds and focus more on finding connection points with people from different cultures.
Regardless of our backgrounds, geographies or languages, we all want to be loved, included and recognized for who we are and what we’re good at. We love good food, good music; we like to laugh and celebrate. We want to feel good about the job we do every day. If we can broaden our circle of friends, it makes us more interesting and ultimately changes our communities in a positive way.