May 31, 2020
When I became our CEO, I made a few promises to myself and to you. One was to ensure we created an environment at USAA where each of us could be our best each day. The events of the last few weeks following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor stand as stark reminders of the injustice still prevalent in our country. For me it has reinforced the depth of our challenge to support each other fully and in a meaningful way. Solving racial injustice in the short run will be incredibly difficult, talking about it openly may be awkward, but silence is not an option. So many in our nation, including many of our teammates, feel the pain from the upheaval our country is experiencing right now.
The last few weeks of racially motivated incidents have weighed heavily on many of our USAA employees and members. Each of us is a product of our life experiences and those are shaped by our gender, ethnic background and orientation, including the color of our skin. I realize that I cannot begin to know what it’s truly like to be black in America. But I do know that treating people with respect, creating a safe environment, and seeking to understand form the basis for trust, and that enables each of us to feel a sense of belonging. I’ve heard from many of you about how you feel. As parents of two sons, who live to ensure they have a bright future, the stories from moms and dads fearing for their sons are gut wrenching to Ginny and me. For those of you feeling a heavy burden, our hearts goes out to you.
We are a team here at USAA, one that shares a common mission and one that promises to live by our core values. We do many things so well, however we have not found a meaningful way to engage in the courageous conversations around race, gender and orientation bias, which inhibits many of our teammates from feeling like they truly belong at USAA. The absence of talking about our fears and concerns in real terms limits our ability to be our best. The hurt that people feel today is real, palpable and it won’t simply go away.
Words are meaningless without action, so in the spirit of progress over perfection, consider this message the start of a much longer and more crucial conversation. I believe that listening to diverse perspectives and summoning the courage to start crucial conversations is the first step in building a truly inclusive environment; one where each of us feels like we belong. It is something I can do better, and something each of us can do to support our teammates.
We’ve been focused on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for a long time. USAA remains committed to hiring diverse talent and will continue to create forums that promote an inclusive and engaged workforce. Get R.E.A.L. with USAA is one of those forums, which provides employees an opportunity to share personal stories around diversity and inclusion themes. Join the next session in June for a panel discussion of recent events. Additionally, Renee Horne shared great advice in a recent message to PEAK members, Tony Wells posted a profound piece on LinkedIn and Jason Kamiya offered personal insight on Ink. I encourage you to visit to learn more and consider getting involved in one of USAA’s diversity and inclusion business groups.
Our mission is a cause worth fighting for. For hundreds of years, men and women of all backgrounds have fought next to each other and died to ensure we live in a free country. Unfortunately, more than 150 years following the 14th Amendment, racial justice is still something we have to fight for, to ensure each of us can enjoy the hard-fought freedom that our Constitution promises. We can start locally by supporting and respecting each other, harnessing our diverse skills, backgrounds and beliefs, and channeling our collective energy to serve each other so that we can serve our members.
Thank you for being an important part of positive change. Feel free to reach out to me to share your thoughts and feedback.