CEO Wayne Peacock shared recently with employees and on LinkedIn that USAA stands in support of the Black community.
When I became USAA’s CEO earlier this year, I made a few promises to myself and our employees. 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 because so many in our nation feel the pain from the upheaval our country is experiencing right now.
The incidents have weighed heavily on many 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. 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 my wife and me. For anyone feeling a heavy burden, our hearts go out to you.
We are a team at USAA, one that shares a common mission and one that promises to live by our core values of service, loyalty, honesty and integrity. 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. 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. I believe that listening to diverse perspectives and summoning the courage to start crucial conversations is the first step in fostering inclusivity and creating environments where each of us feels like we belong. It is something I can do better, and something each of us can do to support each other.
USAA stands with the Black community. We have been focused on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace for a long time, but there is more work to do. We remain committed to hiring diverse talent and will continue to encourage employee participation in our eight diversity and inclusion business groups and create forums that promote an engaged workforce. We will model crucial conversations, as demonstrated so well by my USAA teammates Renee Horne and Tony Wells. Both have shared actionable advice and profound insights on separate LinkedIn posts about this important subject.
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.
Thank you for joining the cause for positive change.