It is vitally important we embrace and appreciate every person’s background — their culture, heritage and experiences. This demonstrates our commitment to being a great place to work, and upholds values that strengthen the communities we serve. Courageous conversations are group discussions that encourage employees to have open dialogue on topics that are important to them. The goal of these conversations is to promote inclusion, understanding and positive action by creating awareness of employees’ experiences and perspectives related to differences in background, experience or viewpoints, such as class, age, gender, gender identification and expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disabilities. We also aim to use this venue to address community events that impact our employees, recognizing that we are all affected by different events in personal ways, and that those feelings do not pause during work hours.
Since beginning courageous conversations in 2015, we have hosted dialogues ranging from small conversations within teams or employee networks, to enterprise conversations with community partners. Topics have included race, gender dynamics, the role of the majority in diversity, social justice, LGBT equality, inclusion in the workplace, and local and national current events. We hosted courageous conversations with panels of diverse leaders in the wake of violence in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis and Charlotte. In conjunction with these conversations and others, our expert Life Event Services team -- who provide support for employees during significant life events and moments that matter most – offered resources, services and advocacy to teammates and their family members who were directly affected. We have built upon the strong foundation of our relationships with clients and partnerships with outside organizations by incorporating in courageous conversations to our ongoing work, including one on diversity in sports as part of our sponsorship of the PGA Championship and ongoing conversations on the lasting legacy and impact of the Vietnam War and the dialogue that surrounded it as part of our sponsorship of the ten-part documentary film “The Vietnam War,” by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. In 2017, we designed and implemented a courageous conversation toolkit that was rolled outacross our company to help managers host and facilitate courageous conversations within their lines of business, network or local market. Within the toolkit, we also encourage our leaders to consider inviting community leaders, civil rights leaders, local politicians, and members of local police officers to engage in open and honest dialogue on key issues. Events of this kind have been held in major cities in the U.S. and beyond, with more to come.
To date, we have reached over 60,000 employees with courageous conversation at the bank, including our Board of Directors, global senior leaders and local market presidents. Through these conversations, we have ensured that our employees know that we are committed to being an inclusive workplace that welcomes dialogue on issues that are important to them and to the communities we serve. With that dialogue comes understanding, empathy and respect of difference, yielding positive outcomes for workforce diversity, inclusion and productivity. As a company, we will continue to have the courage to have conversations that can sometimes be uncomfortable, but are critical to making Bank of America a great place to work for all of our employees and upholds values that strengthen the communities we serve.
Cynthia Bowman, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer