On June 30, TIAA announced new virtual programs designed to raise awareness of racial injustice and support communities in need as a part of the company’s recently launched “Be the Change” initiative.
One is TIAA’s “Race Against Racism,” an effort in support of The Innocence Project which included more than 1,000 associates’ participation. Inspired by Race Amity Day, a day dedicated to bridging racial divides and breaking down misperceptions and prejudices, TIAA’s “Race Against Racism” effort encouraged associates to team up with a colleague or friend of a different ethnicity to raise funds in support of The Innocence Project, a nonprofit committed to criminal justice reform and the exoneration of those wrongly convicted. Associates were encouraged to purchase and wear “Be The Change” t-shirts with proceeds benefitting The Innocence Project. The event – held virtually on June 25-28 – also invited associates to post selfies, write statements of impact and commitment, and walk, run or ride in remembrance of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
“We need to find ways to create a shared purpose for progress against racial inequality and structural racism,” said Corie Pauling, SVP, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at TIAA. “While there is much work to be done to create necessary change at scale, TIAA is committed to addressing the issue of racism through inclusive leadership and community building, and more importantly with our actions.”
In addition to its “Race Against Racism” effort, TIAA has launched its Summer of Service program, offering associates virtual opportunities to engage in their communities and support those adversely impacted by COVID-19. The program aims to address a variety of challenges including bridging the “digital divide” – the gap between people who have sufficient knowledge of, and access to, technology and those who do not.
“During these unprecedented times, vulnerable communities are facing more challenges than ever,” said Laura Turner, VP, who leads Corporate Social Responsibility at TIAA. “We are dedicated to being difference makers on behalf of our clients, and to help meet the unique educational needs of our communities who have limited access to resources.”
To help bridge the “digital divide”, TIAA has launched “Be Active for Internet Access”, whereby employees and their families have adopted a novel approach to help: every hour of physical activity, such as walking or other exercise, will fund a donation towards providing internet access.
TIAA will provide internet access for students and their families through a monetary donation to nonprofit EveryoneOn. TIAA’s focus on the “digital divide” will continue with a number of activities including a drive to collect used laptops.
TIAA is also working to provide educational enrichment and enhance financial literacy programs through both tutoring and mentoring students, and providing educational materials to students and teachers. The volunteer activities include creating flashcards for students, donating to school supply drives, and encouraging associates and senior leaders to use their own skills to help nonprofits solve organizational challenges. Associates will also be able to earn grant dollars on behalf of nonprofits for volunteering in their communities and neighborhoods. These volunteer opportunities are also being done virtually in light of the current pandemic.
The “Be the Change” program is designed to uplift TIAA’s global workforce and communities through dialogue, education, and engagement. During this challenging time, TIAA has adapted its philanthropic programs to align with social distancing guidelines in a way that still allows employees to continue to make a difference in their communities. TIAA’s groundbreaking associate and community engagement is an example of its commitment to diversity and inclusion for which the organization was honored to receive its first Top 10 ranking on the DiversityInc Top Companies for Diversity list.