Increase the Board’s and the Executive Team’s understanding of the breadth and depth of the demographic segments we serve, employ and do business with.
In its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago wanted to better understand the communities it serves. In 2018, the Board Directors, Executive Team members and five randomly selected employees participated in an immersive learning experience entitled, a “Cultural Exploration” intended to help participants broaden and deepen their knowledge of the historical African American experience. The first tour Montgomery, Alabama, where the group visited The Legacy Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, and the Southern Poverty Law Center Civil Rights Memorial. The experience was emotional, enlightening and a tremendous learning opportunity for all participants. Several participants spoke of how they have a different view of history after the experience.
In 2019, the participants explored the Latinx experience by touring Latino neighborhoods of Chicago, including Little Village, Pilsen and Humboldt Park. The group visited the National Museum of Puerto Rican Art and Culture, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Little Village Chamber of Commerce and Casa Central, a non-profit organization that is the largest Hispanic social service agency in the Midwest. Additionally, the group meet with community leaders, business owners, affordable housing developers, politicians, and Latinos serving on corporate boards. The participants were able to see the impact of the work where the Bank contributes.
Each Cultural Exploration is followed by an all employee debrief, supported by a video to archive the experience. Because of his participation in the experiences, an executive team member noted, “I see situations differently now, and feel better equipped to understand different viewpoints that people have.”
In March 2019, the Board voted to make the Cultural Exploration an annual event and provides funding to support the event.
Opportunities such as this to immerse our Board and Executives in the culture, perspectives and challenges of communities with unmet needs in our District dramatically increase our awareness and reinforce our accountability as an employer, a large financial institution of economic consequence, and to provide support for our members in their service to those communities.