VBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Efforts

Overview Chandler Owdom

VBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Efforts

As a part of our 2019-2021 VBA Strategic Plan, the VBA created the goal of developing recommendations for how VBA can assist members in building a more diverse future leadership. The below efforts are a summary of the initiatives we have since started in this space, as well as resources for banks as they begin or further their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs and efforts at their own organizations.

This list highlights important initiatives and resources but is not comprehensive of VBA efforts in the DEI space.

2022-2023 DEI Efforts Summary

2021-2022 DEI Efforts Summary

2020-2021 DEI Efforts Summary

ABA/VBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Summits

VBA and the American Bankers Association partnered to launch our first-ever virtual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit for bankers on November 6, 2020 and have held three more Summits since. These events are an important part of continuing a meaningful dialogue on fostering positive change in the industry. The value-packed programs helped bankers cultivate a network of peers to share DEI leading practices and explore new opportunities and initiatives for their own institutions. The goal of these events is to equip bankers from all over the country with tools to mitigate systemic biases and foster greater inclusion for those disadvantaged by age, race, disability, sexual orientation, gender or other identity factors.

  • More than 275 people attended the 2020 Summit
  • 400 people attended the 2021 Summit
  • 575 people from 42 states attended the 2022 Summit, held jointly with the ABA and the Maryland Bankers Association
  • 515 people attended the 2023 Summit, also held jointly with ABA and MBA

A total of 1,765 bankers across the country have participated in these programs. 

2020 ABA/VBA DEI Summit Event Recap

2021 ABA/VBA DEI Summit Event Recap

2022 ABA/VBA/MBA DEI Summit Event Recap

DEI Peer Connections

Our new DEI Peer Connections is an open forum that meets virtually twice per year to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion topics. Our first meetings were held in May and November, and two additional meetings will be scheduled for 2024.

All Are Welcome: The purpose of these forums is to create a space where any Virginia banker can share their perspective, questions, and ideas on how we can build a more inclusive banking industry together.

Our first DEI Peer Connections meeting was held on May 23. During this meeting, we introduced the initiative and provided an overview of what we hope to accomplish with this network. We also heard DEI Updates from partner organization representatives: 

  • Leslie Frazier, Senior Vice President of Community and Industry Relations, Virginia Association of REALTORS®
  • Naomi Mercer, SVP, DEI and Cathy Nestrick, VP, Women’s Leadership and DEI, American Bankers Association
  • Adrienne Whitaker, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access (IDEA) Leader, Director, Virginia Housing

Finally, time was spent with peers discussing roundtable topics such as Juneteenth efforts and activities. 

On November 7, a second meeting was held, featuring a representative from the American Bankers Association, who presented on the Bank On movement.

Want to Stay Connected? Opt in here to receive future communications and updates on the DEI Peer Connections forums and other DEI events and information from the VBA.

Women in Banking Initiatives

The VBA began the Women’s Mentorship Program in 2020 as a turn-key experience for banks that want to provide senior-level employees the opportunity to mentor high-potential women in their own banks. We are now in the third official year of the 10-month program, where the VBA provides wrap-around educational opportunities and guidance for the one-on-one mentor/mentee meetings.  It also provides connection and network-building opportunities for the participants.  

VBA Women’s Mentorship Pilot Program Recap

2022 Women’s Mentorship Program Recap: Thirteen mentor/mentee pairs completed the 2021-2022 cohort of the program, preparing these talented women for future senior leadership positions. 

Additionally, the VBA has continued to actively engage our Executive Women in Banking Peer Group. This group is comprised of women banking leaders, at the SVP level and higher, who serve as a forum to generate ideas to foster the growth of women in Virginia’s banking industry both personally and professionally.

The group also helped create a new communication for this demographic. In March 2021, in conjunction with Women’s History Month, the VBA developed and distributed a new e-newsletter, ELEVATE, a quarterly publication for women in banking and those who support them. Sign up for ELEVATE here. Access the latest issue and links to previous issues here (under the ELEVATE dropdown). 

Our Women in Banking Conference takes place each December. We have been hosting a Women in Banking Conference for more than ten years, which brings together more than 100 women for a day of motivation, engagement and learning. 

Every year, we also have a virtual event on International Women’s Day. This year, the VBA, in partnership with the VBA Executive Women in Banking Peer Group, hosted a fireside chat with Cathy Nestrick, ABA Senior Director, Women’s Leadership Initiative & DEI, and LeAnne Emert, Benchmark Community Bank and member of the VBA Executive Women in Banking Peer Group. More than 300 bankers and 18 watch parties gathered for the fireside chat on March 8th. Click here to read more and watch the recording of the event. 

Recruitment Solution Through BankTalentHQ

Cultivating a diverse candidate pool requires a diverse recruitment strategy. To develop a workforce rich in diversity, you should consider the quality and demographic sourcing of your candidates. Are you just posting a job on websites and hoping for the best? Is your current diversity recruitment activity driving results? Growing a diverse workforce will take more than putting jobs on ad-hoc websites.

VBA’s career center partnership with BankTalentHQ includes access to America’s Job Exchange (AJE) to make connecting even easier for your bank. BankTalentHQ is committed to putting diversity and inclusion at the forefront of the recruiting process and has developed a partnership with Circa. Circa provides niche diversity sites and community-based recruiting to reach the candidates you need to succeed. Circa is a catalyst for 21st-century companies to build high-performing diverse teams based on research that shows companies want to shift from diversity as a program to diversity as a business strategy. Circa’s robust portfolio of software solutions and unparalleled industry expertise give customers the tools and knowledge they need to radically change how they approach talent acquisition and management. The joining of these two great companies brings accelerated growth and expanded services for you.

When you post an available position on BankTalentHQ, that job is automatically disseminated into Circa’s network. Circa’s Diversity Recruiting is comprised of a network of 15,500+ community-based organizations including: 

  • Women
  • Minorities
  • Individuals with Disabilities
  • Veterans
  • Older Workers
  • Professional and Industry Organizations
  • College Students
  • One-Stop Career Centers

We know diversity and inclusion are important to your bank and VBA and BankTalentHQ are dedicated to making your recruitment activity easy and effective. Don’t waste another minute – click here to post your available positions and reach 15,500+ community-based organizations automatically. Questions? Contact Amy Binns.

Internal DEI Efforts at the VBA

The VBA is committed to supporting our member banks in their DEI journeys, and we are equally committed to providing training, opportunities for conversation and continuous evaluation of our business practices.

The VBA conducts internal training for staff in this space, and various VBA staff members participate in, attend or speak at external DEI forums and events. 

Related Events & DEI Training Opportunities

ABA/VBA DEI Summit Spotlight
Self-Paced Training for Your Team!

The ABA/VBA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit helped lay the groundwork for a better banking industry. Be an agent of change for your bank by delving into the DEI Summit Spotlight, a collection of four recorded strategy sessions from the event. Whether you missed it live, or are gearing up for the next DEI Summit, you can now access important sessions that will nurture your DEI efforts—no matter where you are in your journey. Hear directly from DEI experts, and master the leading practices in mitigating systemic barriers that exist for marginalized groups in the—all while learning actionable steps to implement change. Learn more here*.
*VBA members – contact Chandler Owdom for information about member pricing.

Sessions Included:

  • Building Belonging: Understanding Microaggressions and Micro-affirmations 
  • Inclusion: The Three Levels of Diversity, and the Four Ways to Get There
  • Building DEI into Your Bank’s Corporate Communications Strategy
  • Facilitating Team-Building Conversations around DEI in Today’s Environment

View additional upcoming events here.

NEW: Virginia Banking Fellows Program in Partnership with the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education

In our newest effort, the VBA Education Foundation has partnered with the Virginia Foundation for Community Colleges to offer a statewide scholarship opportunity for underrepresented students – those from minority backgrounds, low-income, first in their family to attend college, or other factors such as disabilities or foster youth. The Foundation initially committed to support 12 total students over the next two years to be a part of this new program but thanks to the support of seven VBA member banks, we supported 13 students in the first year, as well as 13 more students for the 2022-2023 year.

This opportunity is available to students from the 23 community colleges across the state. Virginia Banking Fellows have opportunities to make meaningful connections with VBA members and other students in their region and statewide.

Virginia Banking Fellows each receive a $10,000 scholarship, have the opportunity to take banking industry online training courses and possibly be connected to internship opportunities at VBA member banks. 

Please contact Monica McDearmon for more information about this partnership. 

VBA’s VisitAble Advocate Certification

See our VisitAble Advocate Certification.

The Virginia Bankers Association is proud to have completed the VisitAble Advocate Certification process. The Advocate Certification from VisitAble is a bona fide, trailblazing, inter-industry affirmation that an organization, department, or establishment is engaged with and committed to making the world a better place for people with disabilities. Entities that earn VisitAble’s Certification ensure their employees are prepared to serve, welcome, and accommodate any and all disabled visitors, employees, and stakeholders. We are excited to report that there was 100% completion of the training from all employees at VBA! The VBA is committed to improving disability inclusion efforts within our organization and also with our members through our associate membership partnership with VisitAble.

Additional Resources

  • American Bankers Association’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion webpage and resources