Support from Top is Central to Diversity & Inclusion Efforts

By Trina Burruss | Northwest Bank

Northwest Bank is the title sponsor of this year’s ATHENA Awards, another example of the company’s deep commitment to the communities in which it does business. With branches in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, Northwest is a long-time member and partner with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, sharing in our steadfast efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. Trina Burruss is Senior Vice President, District Manager and Community Relationship Officer for the bank in the Buffalo Niagara community.

Northwest Bank is proud to sponsor the ATHENA Awards as we wholeheartedly support the accomplishments of women in our communities. This support means much more than simply the Northwest logo on a web site or event brochure – it is another in a number of our key sponsorships with the Partnership centered on diversity, equity and inclusion. And that reflects the magnitude and importance Northwest places on this critical issue for our company, our employees and the community.

While D, E &I efforts have long been a focus at Northwest, most recently our strategic planning has positioned the issue as a top priority. Even through the challenges and distractions of the pandemic, Northwest has forged ahead with our efforts, including the formation of an Inclusion Council. I was honored and grateful to be named co-chair of the council.

The Inclusion Council includes representation from across the Northwest Bank markets, with people from all different job families and many different aspects of diversity such as women, gender identity and persons of color. As of this writing, we are in a critical planning phase, meeting monthly via remote technology with council members. The co-chairs then meet weekly and interact with a senior management advisory group to keep everyone informed. That is key to our efforts.

The Inclusion Council has received phenomenal support from the top down, from the CEO and C-Suite executives, as well as our dedicated Board of Directors. They are all very, very involved and supportive. I think that demonstrates that Northwest is not a bank that rests on its laurels; we are always looking for ways to not only go from good to great, but to elite. Our D,E & I strategy is certainly driven by that philosophy.

The council planning includes a focus on diversity as it relates to talent acquisition and retention, as well as our community involvement and the people we serve. For example, Northwest is currently collaborating with Belmont Housing Resources on its financial education center on Buffalo’s East Side where residents can receive free services such as financial counseling, tax preparation and educational workshops. It is a community asset for everyone, not just Northwest clients.

As our efforts relate to the ATHENA Awards, Northwest has always promoted and elevated women in leadership roles and opportunities for advancement. In my own experience, I have been supported in so many ways. I was the first person to be named a community relations officer at Northwest and have been given full latitude to bring my whole self and experience to the role.  The opportunity to co-chair the Northwest Inclusion Council with full support of management and the district manager responsibilities of my title are also examples of Northwest Bank’s commitment to the advancement of women in my experience.

Being involved with the Partnership has also been a great resource for the D, E & I efforts of Northwest Bank. Diversity events held by the Partnership helped us in speaking the dialogue in conversations with the company leadership. We are able to tap into information from national thought leaders on inclusion that only the Partnership can bring to the table. We look forward to expanding the conversation even further through our sponsorship of the ATHENA Awards.

Register for the ATHENA Awards today.
Be sure to join us for the ATHENA Awards on Wednesday, April 28. Register today.

To learn more about Diversity & Inclusion programming at the Partnership, click here.

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