TD’s Black Employee Network helps you elevate your brand
Head of Credit Card & Unsecured Lending Operations & Infrastructure & Co-Lead U.S. Black Employee Network, Greenville, South Carolina
Recently, President Biden signed the Juneteenth Bill establishing a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth honors a significant part of American history largely absent from our narrative, textbooks and classrooms. The recognition of Juneteenth reminds me how important it is to honor history and to continue to share our personal stories.
We all interpret the world around us from our own cultural frame of reference and experience. Our upbringing and experiences influence our interactions.
Senta grew up in eastern North Carolina in a farming community as the granddaughter of sharecroppers. “Until the 1970s, my grandparents lived on the land where our ancestors were once slaves. I remember the white wood house and the fields where cotton was grown and handpicked. I didn’t fully appreciate the role that land played in my family’s history. We were sheltered from that harsh reality, so my siblings and I never understood the full ramifications until we were much older.”
Senta’s grandparents had 12 children and almost all of them went to college. “The value of education was instilled in us as a path to a better future. This history shaped who I am today. In general, our history shapes our frame of reference. Taking time to understand each other’s perspectives can be a great foundation to enable collaboration and shared progress.”
At TD, we have created opportunities for our colleagues to share their perspective around Anti-racism.
“I’ve been pleased to see strong engagement with these events. By changing the narrative, this could expand our perspective and enable our colleagues to share valuable insights freely. When we launched the U.S. Black Employee Network (BEN) at TD, Co-Chair, Marc Womack, and I made a conscious decision to have allies as part of our BEN Executive Leadership team. This was important because systemic racism isn’t just a Black problem. It’s our shared responsibility to create better experiences for Black colleagues, customers, and communities.”
TD recently launched a $100 million equity fund in support of minority-owned small businesses. Through this equity fund we’re infusing capital and helping stabilize businesses and in turn contributing to job creation, economic development, and community revitalization.
“Through the TD Ready Commitment, we continue to work with and support Black-led and Black-focused initiatives that are driving positive change in our communities and in society. Our sponsorship of First Book’s “Black Kids Matter” Juneteenth celebration will provide nearly 8,000 children with free reading books from the “Stories for All” collection. That’s what shared responsibility means. It means working together to bridge the gap and facilitate meaningful change. No matter who you are, we have the ability to influence change. Pick one thing you can do to make a positive difference and do it. Be courageous and be unapologetic about it.”
Regional President, Mid-South Metro Market, Executive Co-Lead, Black Employee Network Charlotte, North Carolina
A Texas native, Hugh earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas and his MBA at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. He is a member of such professional organizations as Urban Land Institute, The Real Estate Roundtable, International Council of Shopping Centers, Mortgage Bankers Association, and was a founder of African American Real Estate Professionals (Washington, DC). Additionally, Hugh is Past Chairman of the Trustee Board at St. Augustine’s College, and currently serves on the board of directors for The Hydrocephalus Association, The Research Triangle Foundation, The Steve Smith Family Foundation, and The Arts Empowerment Project. He is also Co-Founder of BP Basketball, Inc., a Charlotte based non-profit dedicated to mentoring youth through basketball. He is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Duke University Fuqua School of Business Keller Society, and The Iron Dukes. Hugh, his wife Natalie, and their two children, Andrew (22) and Chloe (18) live in Charlotte, N.C.
Recently promoted to Regional President, Mid-South Metro Market, Hugh previously was the Commercial Real Estate Division Head – South. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Hugh manages the full range of Commercial Banking activity in the Mid-South Metro market and works to expand the bank’s recognition in the community through profitable growth and customers while enhancing the TD brand. Hugh leads a diverse team, collaborates with leaders across the bank, and consistently contributes to local communities in his market.
Reflecting on his career trajectory, Hugh is grateful for TD’s inclusive culture, where you are evaluated on the merit of your work.
“Throughout my career, I have witnessed myself and others be passed over for promotions because they were not part of someone’s fraternity or clique. TD’s welcoming culture encourages employees to do their best work while being themselves.”
Hugh enjoys his work with the Black Employee Network (BEN) where the focus is on improving experiences for Black employees, customers, and communities. Hugh’s involvement with BEN has been focused on developing strategies to attract and retain Black talent. If you’re starting your career and considering TD as an employer, Hugh encourages applicants to consider that TD provides multiple opportunities for career growth and advancement where you will be part of an inclusive culture that will support you. It is also exciting to be part of a growth focused organization. “TD is growing and looking for people who want to grow with us.”
When asked his advice to advance your career, Hugh suggests actively building an internal and external network. “Volunteering in my community has always yielded more long-term rewards for me than the short-term investment of my time. Make the time to cultivate relationships and get to know people.”
Store Manager II, Palm Beach, Florida
Overseeing a dynamic West Palm Beach Florida store, Michell prides herself in being a progressive leader who builds long-term, trust-based relationships with colleagues and customers. In addition to managing a team of Tellers, Customer Service Representatives, and an Assistant Store Manager, Michell oversees the store’s sales goals and ensures the delivery of exceptional customer service while being actively involved in Diversity & Inclusion initiatives as Minorities in Leadership Co-Lead for Florida and Co-Lead for the Black Employee Network for Florida.
Community outreach is also a key initiative which Michell embraces. “I focus on underrepresented minority-owned businesses who would benefit from expanding their financial literacy. Many businesses struggle without an understanding of how to maximize their finances with the demands of building their business and lack a supportive network to share ideas and vet business propositions.” Creating career opportunities for Black employees is also important to Michell through her involvement in producing programs and opportunities for Rising Black Leaders within the Black Employee Network.
Reflecting on her involvement in TD’s Black Employee Network, Michell is most grateful for the open conversations with community members and allies. Making valuable connections and sharing her personal experiences while learning from others lived experiences has helped to strengthen her connections in the community. “The internal support I get helps me focus on positivity rather than hate. In TD’s Black Employee Network, the caring shows through each person involved in this group.” Following the murder of George Floyd, the Florida Market President called Michell to ask how she was doing following this tragedy. “Authentic and caring people help you feel connected to the organization.”
Community Development Manager, Lakeland Polk, Florida
Prior to joining TD, Rob spent eight years in the Marines. With a bachelor’s degree in education from Liberty University and a MS in Education from the University of Virginia, Rob is certified in HR Management and Project Management and is pursuing a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University. Rob lives in Lakeland, Florida with his family.
As a Black Employee Network (BEN) Co-Lead for Metro Florida, Rob’s focused on “normalizing” difficult conversations. “Discrimination can affect everyone; the key is to highlight and educate the areas where people are unaware. The more we communicate openly on topics that people consider uncomfortable the better chance we have of understanding each other.”
When asked what he’s learned from facilitating lessons on difficult conversations, Rob was initially surprised by the large number of white colleagues in attendance. “A diverse group of people who are open to having transparent conversations is positive. I’m available to help people leaders who struggle with communicating with an employee. I’ve coached a Hispanic Manager on how to effectively connect with a Black employee. The manager’s heart was in the right place, but I advised him to tweak his wording to make a more positive connection.” To ensure he’s able to help people navigate challenging topics, Rob frequently checks in with Business Resource Group Leaders within the Black Employee Network. “I want to understand the tough topics you’re afraid to discuss so I can help others feel more confident in how they communicate.”
Beyond his role as a leader for the Black Employee Network, Rob values the community support the group offers its members. Following George Floyd’s murder, a fellow Veteran immediately reached out to Rob to share condolences and empathize. “As Veterans, we have shared backgrounds and understand each other well. People should look for commonality to strengthen relationships. It’s the same for the Black Employee Network, we’re a strong community of Black employees and allies.” Rob also feels it’s important to speak up when you notice any form of racial injustice. “On several occasions I’ve reached out to senior leaders within TD to vent or share my opinions on racial issues. It’s normal to worry your leaders don’t want to hear from you, especially if you’re part of a minority but at TD, no leader has ever not welcomed the conversation. Our leaders are listening and want to engage on difficult topics.”
Senior Business Oversight Analyst | US Privacy Office ,New York, New York
These are the instructions Chevon sends to her son as he goes off into the world before she kisses him goodbye and silently prays that he returns home safe:
“I know it’s cold out, but DO NOT put your hood up as you’re walking.”
“If you stop at the store, take your hands out of your pockets.”
“Make sure not to raise your voice when speaking to people.”
That’s right. I am raising a Black son in America.
These are the instructions that Chevon gives her wife before visiting certain cities or states:
“Remember, we can’t hold hands here, babe.”
“We can’t sit too close.”
“We have to say that we’re friends. “
That’s right. I’m a gay woman in America.
These are the instructions she gives herself when in the workplace:
“Make sure to tame your hair.”
“Put on small earrings before going into the office.”
“Even if you’re upset, make sure to speak in a higher, more welcoming tone.”
“Don’t seem too aggressive in your responses.”
“Make sure you try to be as inviting and agreeable as possible.”
That’s right. I’m a Black woman in America.
So, what’s the tally so far? Chevon’s a Black, gay woman raising Black children in America. It’s important to emphasize America because many people live under the assumption that this is the land of the free; where “we” are all treated equally. Chevon feels if the “we” includes her, then that’s not altogether true. Much of society is not aware of these unspoken rules, restrictions, and instructions that a Black person has to adopt in order to stay alive. Furthermore, society is not aware that the biases and stereotypes Black and LGBTQ2+ communities face transcends beyond the United States.
Chevon’s reminded of a time when she worked so hard to send her daughter on a school trip. She made payments for a year to afford to send her away with her choir. She and her wife were so proud for their daughter to be a part of this elite choir and travel with them. They purchased new luggage and a few nice outfits and sent her on her way. It was her first time being away from home for such a long period of time, and they prayed for her safe travel and return.
While away, her daughter called in tears because she had been called the “n-word” by a complete stranger that bumped into her on the street…in Spain! The stranger proceeded to tell a 15-year-old the only reason she was on the trip was because of a community outreach program. Chevon’s heart sunk with utter disgust and pain. Imagine trying to console your child 3,500 miles away and explain that everything is going to be alright. Her mind quickly went to the next phase of questions.
What about the people on the trip that she had traveled with, the teachers? Why did no one stand up for her? Why did no one help or shield her? These were people that she went to school with every day and claimed to be her supporters. Unfortunately, when it really mattered, she was alone.
Sadly, Chevon knew the feeling of being alone all too well. She’s been called the “n-word” many times in her life. Sometimes, it was coupled with homophobic slurs. No one was there to shield and protect her either. She felt the same sinking feeling as she watched a video of George Floyd being murdered in plain sight. No one could do anything to help, as it was an act so easily carried out by a police officer.
It was clear – and always had been – racism is still a very prevalent issue.
Chevon’s learned as a Black, gay woman raising Black children in America if you want to stay alive, keep your head down, don’t cause any problems and just try and blend in. These unspoken rules, restrictions, and instructions originated from the need for survival.
So, how can we change this narrative? “Let’s start with common respect between one another. Next, let’s strive for continued partnerships with those who have a voice and a platform to help make positive changes become a reality. We need to rebuild a system that was cracked at its foundation since inception. We need our allies to stand on the frontlines with us in the struggle and help to make real change. We need widespread education on racism that Black people face daily.” For instance, the Learning Management System course offered by TD Bank, Recognizing and Addressing Anti-Black Racism and Anti-Racism gives insight from the perspective of Black employees in the workplace – we need this. We need to put our boots on the ground to speak out against racism.
HR Program Specialist, Diversity & Inclusion (she/her/hers), Mt Laurel, New Jersey
When I first joined TD Bank in 2018, I was not out at work, meaning although I was part of and identified with the LGBTQ2+ community, particularly as a Black lesbian, I did not express that at work for a number of reasons.
One being, I always considered TD Bank to be my first “Big Girl” job or professional role, so I came into the workplace assuming that I had to be portrayed a certain way to be viewed as “professional,” an unfortunate reoccurring theme for people within the Black and minority communities. Fortunately, the decision to not be out at work was not a result of having had a bad experience at work but due to a topic of discussion not always brought up in our society.
Being a part of the Black community, which I am very prideful about, has also had its challenges. Aside from the racial injustice the Black community has experienced over the past 400 years or so, within my own community, I’ve experienced negative experiences around my sexuality and to say, this has been rooted within my own family.
Growing up in a family with a strong religious background has played a critical role as to why I did not want to truly show my Lesbian Pride at work. A lot of times in the Black community as well as other communities, homosexuality is viewed as not only a sin under God, but an abominable sin to the community as well. When I first came out, it was a very difficult time for me and my mom. She couldn’t understand why I would “choose” to be “this way,” and she made it seem as though I was purposefully going against God. There have also been the constant “disgusted stares” I’d receive, particularly from elderly members of the Black community which has also played a key role in me not coming out at work.
It wasn’t until a year into my career here at TD, when I started to network with colleagues across the bank and build relationships, and got involved with our different Areas of Focus / Business Resource Groups that I realized that I could be out at work; I could be my authentic self without having those “disgusted stares” and societal stereotypes aimed at me.
It was TD Bank that allowed me to truly be prideful in being a lesbian not only at work but in my personal life as well. It was TD Bank that gave me the level of comfort knowing that there are other colleagues with similar experiences out there and that I can wear my masculine clothes like I would outside of work, versus wearing feminine clothing, and not be judged for that.
It was extremely important for me to not only hear the stories of other LGBTQ2+ colleagues, but to also share my own personal stories, and to help inspire others with their coming out experiences. It was extremely crucial for me to build on my own self-confidence and self-worth so when I am faced with acts of discrimination or biases, I’m confident enough in myself to not allow that to break or mold me. Doesn’t mean it’s easy all the time, some days are better than others, but all in all, I can say that I love me and whoever can’t accept me for who I am, that’s on them!
Being open and honest is extremely important because, through my personal experiences, a lot of times lesbians are viewed as what I like to call “phase partners.” I can’t tell you how many times people, both males and females within the Black community, would tell me that I am only a lesbian because “I haven’t found the right man yet,” or “you’re too cute to be a lesbian,” or my favorite, “you dress like a boy so you must want to be one.”
The thing is, I’ve been with men before. The thing is, although I do prefer to wear masculine clothing, that doesn’t mean I wish to be a man. I am a LESBIAN, meaning I like other women. It does not mean I am a part of the LGBTQ2+ community just because I haven’t found a suitable husband yet.
So, bringing your true self to work and showing support for lesbians is extremely important not just because of my own personal experiences, but because of all the biases and stereotypes that come along with identifying as a lesbian. It’s crucial that we work to mitigate unconscious, conscious biases, and stereotypes for all members of the LGBTQ2+ society if we want to truly treat ALL people within our society as equal and to really create that safe space for them.
De’Nisha’s recommendations to be an ally to show support to members of the LGBTQ2+ community:
- Educate Yourself and Learn – Speak with your colleagues identifying in the LGBTQ2+ community. Educate yourself on certain challenges faced by the LGBTQ2+ community so you do know when to speak up. There’s a ton of resources out there, and TD employees can access the ‘Forever Proud Connections community’ as well as a number of Business Unit and Market LBGTQ2+ Business Resource Groups.
- Empathize and Engage – Get comfortable being uncomfortable. We may not know all the answers and there’s no formal guideline on how to have uncomfortable conversations. But until the new you can disagree with the old you, then what growth are we going to have as individuals, as an organization, and as communities on a larger scale?
- Speak up with Confidence – if you are a witness to acts of discrimination against the LGBTQ2+ community or any other community, speak up! Those who stay silent can be just as hurtful as those acting in discrimination. A true ally acts as an advocate always, not just when a member of a particular community is in the room, but equally as important when they’re not in the room!
VP, Senior Human Resources Manager, Lexington, South Carolina
Quinton is a seasoned Human Resources leader with extensive experience in complex strategic HR issues such as talent management, organizational design/development, compensation, and change management. When reflecting on his over fifteen years of Human Resources experience, Quinton credits a strong desire to learn and pursue new opportunities to achieving success. Quinton got used to a fast pace while earning his undergraduate degree in Human Resources Management from Winthrop University, when he combined studying with a busy Human Resident Services job.
Several weeks after graduation, Quinton joined Lowes Home Improvement as an HR Manager covering the endless HR needs of three busy locations. Looking back, Quinton is grateful for the early opportunity as it immersed him in “HR 101 with managing strategic initiatives, Employee Relations, Benefits, and Payroll.” After working at Lowes for three years, Quinton decided to pursue an MBA. “I wanted to be a more competitive HR Business Partner and realized I should expand my business acumen with an MBA.” Quinton earned his MBA from Winthrop University in 2011.
His desire to learn and follow new opportunities led Quinton to Bank of America where he worked in Employee Relations/HR Advice & Counsel. As the role involved relaying complex HR advice over the phone, Quinton quickly learned to maximize his time by taking detailed notes and asking “concise and probing questions” to relay viable guidance to his client groups. Honing his advice delivery approach strengthened Quinton’s investigation skills. Employee relations and advice skills would be useful as a new job and employer was on the horizon.
When Quinton was approached to pursue an HR Business Partner opportunity with TD Bank eight years ago, he never heard of the bank and thought it was a small startup. Deciding to “phone a friend” he called a TD colleague to learn more. When his friend advised Quinton that TD’s a phenomenal place to work, he took the interview. Looking back, Quinton’s happy he listened to his friend. During his time with TD, Quinton’s led many transformational HR ventures including developing and implementing special global projects in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Singapore.
“I knew I needed to expand my HR career beyond giving advice, so I sought opportunities to broaden my experience. I’ve developed strategy for large organizational structural changes and even relocated for my job. I’m grateful for every opportunity to learn because it all shapes your experience.”
Quinton feels everyone’s learning and development is their own responsibility. “Look for every opportunity to give back and volunteer. “My work with Minorites in Leadership, Women in Leadership and Veterans groups has introduced me to new people I may not normally encounter at my work, and it always offers new opportunities.” Quinton’s work with the Black Employee Network (BEN) involves leading the Executive Ready talent initiative. Collaborating with several employees within BEN, the group focuses on opportunities to identify Black talent for higher level opportunities across the bank. When asked for career guidance from BEN members, Quinton advises, “be strategic and look for new opportunities that will meet your goals and be ready when opportunity knocks. Seek advice and don’t be afraid of feedback.” When asked if he’s still in touch with the friend who recommended he interview with TD, Quinton smiled and shared they co-lead the BEN Business Resource Group for Metro Carolinas.
Market President, Connecticut, Western Massachusetts & Upstate New York, Boston, Massachusetts
Following a recent promotion to Market President for Southern New England, it’s a good time for Monté to be reflective on his career. From early days as a Branch Manager with Citizens Bank, to getting recruited to Fleet Bank to manage bigger branches, to moving to Bank of America’s Leadership Development Program, Monté’s always ready for new challenges. Realizing you need to understand all aspects of business, Monté sought roles that allowed him to form collaborative relationships as a Business Partner. Volunteering to work in new and different territories where he had to prove his worth, Monté learned to effectively build trust at all levels. A lateral move that focused on training and development taught Monté a new side of the business and introduced him to valuable new contacts. “I’ve never feared lateral moves because they help you flex different muscles. Looking back on my career, the opportunities to influence without authority helped me hone my skills and have more impact in a variety of business situations.”
In addition to welcoming new opportunities, Monté believes it’s crucial to create a network of mentors to guide you through your career. “Understand your strengths and areas for growth and find mentors who will give you honest feedback. It’s up to each employee to own their development and find mentors who will help. Throughout my career, I’ve never been shy to ask for mentorship and I’ve never been turned down.” Employees need to understand what they want from the mentor relationship and work to nurture the connection so it’s not one-sided. “Even sending a mentor an article they may find interesting, demonstrates you care about the relationship. Work to make the mentor relationship mutually beneficial and try to find ways to help the mentor.” While he knows it’s difficult, Monté believes you shouldn’t get discouraged if you don’t get the position you want. “Always be open to feedback. Know and understand your ‘blockers,’ the people who may not endorse you for a new role. Did you previously offend them? Do they not know enough about your skills and fit for a new role? Make the time to do the work that will help you move forward. Through a recent Urban League of Philadelphia leadership training, Monté learned we all need, mentors, champions, challengers, sponsors, and coaches to develop in our careers. “Be open with your mentors about the specific areas where you need guidance and support and continually be on the lookout for future guides as you navigate your career growth.”
To encourage meeting employees from different parts of the organization, Monté feels joining Business Resource Groups are a great way to advocate for causes you believe in. Through his work with the Black Employee Network (BEN), Monté receives opportunities to do better. “BEN creates awareness for the unique experience Black employees face while providing an open environment to engage and collaborate on initiatives that make a difference.”