“We’re taking a step forward,” Ryan Jones explained.
Masks on, positioned six feet apart amid the pandemic, and listening intently, Jones and his colleagues at a Regions Bank branch in Hoover, Alabama, were willing to have an uncomfortable conversation.
The term uncomfortable conversation is becoming more common – because more people are recognizing the need for them. They provide a chance for people to talk about race, about their own experiences, and about ways stereotypes or preconceived notions can be replaced with understanding and support.
“There are a lot of conversations that we’ll know nothing about it if we don’t take the time to really try to understand,” Jones said. “So I think today taught me that we’re trying.”
Because one by one, Regions teams across 15 states had their own discussions during the bank’s Week of Understanding. Planned by Clara Green, head of Diversity and Inclusion for Regions, the bank’s Week of Understanding was inspired by the Day of Understanding launched by CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™. The organization is the largest CEO-driven coalition to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace, and Regions is a proud member.
Hopefully we’ve created a platform for us to continue talking to each other, and somehow these conversations make their way back to our homes and communities.
Clara Green, head of Diversity and Inclusion for Regions
“We felt the timing was right given all the recent social unrest related to racial inequity,” Green said, adding that the Week of Understanding complements long-term initiatives at the bank. “These types of conversations are not new to our culture. We’ve been engaging in dialogue over the last two years.”
Recently, following a series of racial injustices across the country, Green and Regions President and CEO John Turner held virtual sessions with associates in several cities to discuss racial equity and further shape the bank’s commitment to creating more inclusive prosperity in our communities, while advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the workplace. The Week of Understanding took the concept further by helping individual teams at Regions have their own productive, transparent discussions.
“What we hope comes out of the Week of Understanding is that we gained greater respect for all of our differences, especially those centered around race,” Green said. “Our hope is that the conversations don’t stop just because the Week of Understanding has ended. Hopefully we’ve created a platform for us to continue talking to each other, and somehow these conversations make their way back to our homes and communities.”
They already are.
“My kids, I’m going to be talking to them about this. It’s given me a lot of ideas,” said Andre Villanueva, web content editor for Regions Corporate Communications. “It just feels good to work for a company that addresses this. I’ve never worked for any place that even hinted at talking about something like this.”
The fact that colleagues listened so closely – and showed a desire to grow closer together – made an impact.
“It’s really helped our branch understand one another and respect one another’s differences,” said Elise Carr, a Regions branch manager. “I feel that we continue to dive deeper and learn more. It’s been very beneficial.”
To see the concept in action, watch the brief video below. And share the idea with others. The more we come together, the better positioned we are to take another step – forward.