Former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) Speaks about Trust and Inclusion at TIAA’s 2021 Virtual IN Symposium

(Courtesy of TIAA)

On January 28, TIAA’s CEO Roger Ferguson and its Inclusion and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team welcomed former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powell to its 2021 virtual IN Symposium. Responsibility, education, and trust were the key themes and principles shared from Gen. Powell to more than 2,700 employees from TIAA (No. 9 on The 2020 Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), Nuveen and TIAA Bank.

Gen. Powell kindled the IN Symposium first by talking about his childhood stemmed from Jamaican and New York roots, and how his parents raised him to be responsible and value education. He is passionate about education and how every child needs a caring upbringing and access to strong health and educational resources at an early age. He then shared his life-changing experience of joining the ROTC, which led him to his renowned military career. Powell served in the United States Army for 35 years, rising to the rank of Four-Star General. Having held senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidential administrations, Powell’s deep commitment to democratic values and freedom has been felt throughout the world.

Ferguson and Powell actively shared their viewpoints on the importance of inclusive leadership. Throughout the symposium, Powell expressed that it’s vital that leaders trust their employees and that employees trust their leaders. It is the responsibility of leaders to gain and obtain the trust of their constituents, and demand that everyone receives respect. He reiterated that everyone comes from different places and backgrounds, therefore we should respect each other and work well in teams – despite differences. He provided tips on how to handle situations involving racism and how to not let racism “undercut the confidence to move forward”, and Ferguson agreed.

Two employees from TIAA Business Resource Groups (BRGs) were also on the symposium panel and had the grand opportunity to expand the conversation with Powell and Ferguson.

“This was such an amazing opportunity to listen and speak with leaders who have had and continue to make fundamental impacts on how society thinks about inclusion and intersectionality as it relates to behaviors and mindsets,” said Jeff Riddle, Senior Manager of Global Security and Travel and the Our Corps veterans BRG former co-chair at TIAA. “I often reflect on my personal experiences as a Veteran and upbringing, and how to embrace these principles in my daily life.”

Virtually alongside Riddle was Kela Shepherd, Vice President, Site Lead Director of TIAA Bank and the Our Corps veterans BRG former national business manager, to speak with and ask questions to Powell.

“This opportunity represents the thread of TIAA and Roger Ferguson’s leadership that inspires inclusive leaders and others,” said Shepherd. “I am grateful for the candor, direction, and introspection shared by General Colin Powell regarding leadership mindset and practices. I am also proud to work for a company that continues to embrace transparency, trust, equity for all, and support for our Employee/Business Resource Groups.”

The TIAA IN Symposium panel also included Corie Pauling, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer and Head of CSR at TIAA, who outlined the 2021 TIAA Inclusion, Diversity and CSR strategy. At the end of the event, Ann Marie Ciprari, Senior Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at TIAA, shared the “Be Active” employee challenge. This CSR initiative will encourage employees to get active with their families and log their hours to benefit the donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) through Direct Relief, an organization providing COVID-19 relief efforts in medically underserved minority communities.