The Be FIRST Commitment
We recognized that as our company grew, we needed to ensure that our workforce, products and services were representative of all communities we serve.
We unveiled the Be FIRST commitment, a collection of efforts we’re taking to actualize our company values including the launch of a Diversity & Inclusion Employee Committee, creation of a new board of directors committee, a Storefront space, a CD/Community Loan product and an internship program.
The Diversity and Inclusion Employee Committee and Corporate Responsibility & Culture Committee of our Board of Directors are working to enhance diversity throughout the Company while our Storefront program helps us dive deeper into our community by creating a space and place to help our neighbors tackle the growing wealth gap. The storefronts are programmed by local communities and feature free open space and our My Banker concierge banking and Interactive Teller Machines (ITM). The CD/Loan product, in collaboration with The Runway Project of Oakland, CA, provides support to underserved small businesses allowing for community investment in a place-based CD product that builds the capacity of the local ecosystem for community capital and business support.
Finally, we launched an internship program with Cathedral High School in Boston, MA to build a pipeline of talented and diverse staff. We plan to expand the program in Boston and across our markets in future years.
More than 70 employees from across the company are participating in the Diversity & Inclusion Employee committee/sub-teams and we appointed two African American men to our Board of Directors who join our existing directors, including two women.
The first of several planned Storefronts was unveiled in Dudley Square in Roxbury, MA with plans for additional locations, programmed by the communities, forthcoming.
Our first cohort of interns joined the company in the summer of 2019.
A workforce that brings together diverse perspectives, ideas and experiences in an environment where every employee feels that they belong leads to stronger, more sustainable performance and serves as the foundation of Berkshire Bank’s efforts to build the premiere 21st century community bank. I’m proud that we are harnessing our entire business to ensure everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.