In our Sponsor Spotlight series, CBI highlights our relationships with our sponsors, and the work they are doing to build a more equitable and just community within their own spheres of influence. Today’s Sponsor Spotlight focuses on TIAA.
Founded more than a century ago to provide financial services for those in careers which serve others, TIAA has a long history of progressive action related to diversity, equity and inclusion in its leadership. They appointed their first female board member in the 1940s, their first Black Board member in 1957, and in 1987, Dr. Clifton Wharton, Jr. became the first Black CEO and Chairman of a major U.S. corporation.
This deep history has made TIAA’s support of CBI a natural fit. “TIAA Associates have been fortunate to be able to participate in CBI programs including Bus Tours, Equity Impact Circles, LU40, and LDI. We have also been happy to serve as a Convening/Sustaining Sponsor for the Stakeholder Breakfast. The value I see in CBI programming is that I walk away learning something new. Also, there is an impetus toward action. I have gained information and resources needed to share with TIAA associates and take action in the community,” says Jillian Peat Hamilton, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at TIAA.
She continued: “A favorite CBI event was the 2019 Stakeholder Breakfast. One of the more poignant ideas from keynote speaker, Anand Giridharadas, was the problem with the win-win concept. He said it is really difficult to find ways to help the underrepresented while not disrupting the joy of the people standing on their necks. This was in 2019, before the image and the imagery of standing on someone’s neck became such a visceral part of public discourse. This highlighted for me why progress toward equity is so hard, and why some may be reluctant to champion change.”
As Peat Hamilton referenced, the national conversation around equity and justice gained momentum and added urgency in 2020, and TIAA responded by stepping up their investment. Said Hamilton, “The unrest and social justice-related protests over the summer of 2020 once again gave us the opportunity to lead by example and inspired our teams to support, mobilize and, in some cases, join the surge in activism. We have long held the belief that we have more in common than we have differences, yet we knew the events leading up to the summer of 2020 called for additional resources, creativity and dialogue to embrace, honor and respect these differences. The result was a new social justice program called Be the Change.”
Peat Hamilton summarized some of the milestones Be the Change reached in 2020:
• The program engaged 1,200 associates and their families in The Race Against Racism, which generated donations to the Innocence Project
• It engaged 1,700 associates in the Roger Reads book club, led by our CEO, Roger W. Ferguson Jr. with a book that explored anti-racism
• TIAA donated 5,000 books centered around characters of color to the Pajama Project, a children’s literacy organization, and
• The firm launched Summer of Service, a program that responds to communities’ increased educational needs during the summer, focusing on the digital divide and equity in education.
Peat Hamilton also shared a personal hope for Charlotte’s future, in alignment with her work at TIAA and her experience with CBI: “Charlotte is a major center of finance, commerce, culture and sports, a vibrant city with impressive architecture and thriving suburbs. Yet right alongside these wonderful attributes there exist grinding poverty and stubborn roadblocks to upward social mobility. My hope for Charlotte is that we no longer look at our city as a crescent and a wedge, that it becomes that place where children are not destined to end up in the same socio-economic status in which they were born.”