Talking about racism and racial inequality can be uncomfortable but necessary.
Javier Rodríguez Soler, President and CEO of BBVA USA, was among the first bank leaders in the U.S. to call for a national dialogue about systemic racism following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. Rodríguez Soler’s call for employees to “find ways to listen to, learn from, and support those who have suffered” sparked demand for purposeful conversations across the bank’s footprint.
Moraga: "We designed these hour-long small group discussions, called ‘One Team Talks,’ for team members to share their personal experiences and build bonds of compassion, respect, and trust."
“We designed these hour-long small group discussions, called ‘One Team Talks,’ for team members to share their personal experiences and build bonds of compassion, respect, and trust,” said BBVA USA Manager of Social Impact Tony Moraga, who led the development of the initiative. “Over the past six weeks, we’ve heard from team members about how participating in these sessions have changed their perspectives, increased their understanding and connected them more deeply to one another.”
More than 150 team members volunteered as facilitators to host sessions within their business units and across the organization. BBVA USA Chief Information Officer Kevin McMahon, who leads the bank's Engineering team, said he signed up to host a One Team Talk because the conversations are important and needed.
McMahon: "I want to make sure that each team member feels welcomed and able to share their voice and their story.”
“The Engineering team is incredibly diverse,” said McMahon. “I want to make sure that each team member feels welcomed and able to share their voice and their story.”
The discussions are held over Google Meet and have brought together over 1,000 team members from across the bank, many of whom have never met before, to share their experiences and respond to difficult and often uncomfortable questions about racial inequality. Of those who participated, the overwhelming majority indicated that the discussions were extremely worthwhile and substantially improved relationships with fellow team members.
Gaddis-Swoopes: "In order to see a change, we have to make a change, and that starts with each of us."
“My biggest takeaway from the One Team Talk was that I work with people who care and are willing to speak up, but who need a fuller picture of the injustices we face,” said BBVA USA Lead IT Project Manager Katriana Gaddis-Swoopes, who participated in a discussion. “In order to see a change, we have to make a change, and that starts with each of us.”
“The One Team Talks initiative is just the first step we’re taking to combat racism as an organization,” Moraga said. “The strong level of participation we’re seeing is helping us to become an even stronger team and truly supporting our efforts to become an anti-racist organization.”
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