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KeyBank’s Diversity and Inclusion efforts include the formation of Key Business Impact and Networking Groups (KBINGs), which are company-sponsored employee resource groups. Open to all employees, KBINGs were developed to attract, engage, develop, and retain a diverse workforce. The KBINGs also help strengthen relationships and connections with KeyBank clients and communities.

The KBING concept has been implemented in KeyBank markets across the country since 2004, with more than 50% of KeyBank employees participating in one or more. The groups include African Heritage, Asian, Champions of People with Disabilities, Hispanic-Latinx, Jewish Cultural, Key for Lifetime Contributors, Key Legal Exchange, Key Military Network, Key Women’s Network, Key Young Professionals, Parents are Key, and PRIDE.

KeyBank’s Connecticut and Massachusetts market launched its PRIDE KBING in May 2020. During National Pride Month, MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with the team leading KeyBank’s CT PRIDE KBING:

  • Ramón “Tito” Albizu, Branch Manager Holyoke, MA and Co-Chair of CT PRIDE KBING (pictured top, left)
  • Dale “Keith” Brittin, Branch Manager Columbia, CT and Co-Chair of CT PRIDE KBING (pictured bottom, left)
  • Katie Farrington, Key@Work Team Leader and Executive Sponsor of CT PRIDE KBING (pictured right)

NAN PRICE: What was the driving force behind launching the CT PRIDE KBING?

KATIE FARRINGTON: The KBINGs provide opportunities for our internal colleagues to feel connected and empowered. The idea is to educate and engage our entire workforce and then look at how we can inspire, educate, and support the community. With the CT PRIDE KBING, we want to help people understand the struggles, the history, and the engagement of the LGBTQ+ community.

In terms of PRIDE, Keith and Tito’s willingness and passion helped us realize it was the right time to launch the CT PRIDE KBING. That’s how the KBINGs start. They never start with an executive decision. They begin at a local level with our employees telling us it’s something they want and need. The beauty of our KBINGs is they are organic and homegrown with the blessing and encouragement of our executive team.

NAN: Keith and Tito, tell us about your involvement.

DALE “KEITH” BRITTIN: I moved from Southern California to Connecticut eight months ago to start my job with KeyBank. I was a part of an employee engagement network at my prior job with U.S. Bank and I wanted to get involved with something similar here.

I was happy to see that KeyBank values diversity and inclusion with their employees—that was one of the things that drew me to Key in the first place. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been looking for other opportunities to get involved in the gay and lesbian community, too. So, I was proud to become Co-Chair of the PRIDE KBING.

RAMÓN  “TITO” ALBIZU: I’ve been with KeyBank for about nine months. It was such a great experience joining Key, three months ago, I brought in my husband. Now both of us are working at Key; he’s at a Connecticut branch.

Coming to Key was very refreshing because when it comes to inclusion, many companies say they’re inclusive, but I go by how they act with their inclusivity. Right away, I learned about the KBINGs and I wanted to be part of the PRIDE KBING.

I had a lot of ideas about community engagement and volunteering—all my ideas were welcomed. Obviously, with COVID-19, we haven’t been able to do a lot of those activities, but we’re doing things within the bank and we’re planning things for next year, which makes me really excited.

NAN: What kind of engagement does the CT PRIDE KBING have planned for the future?

TITO: From a community aspect, when things start to reopen, we’ll be able to do more volunteering at community events. Right now, we’re volunteering from a distance and supporting where we can. Once everything is open, we’ll be able to physically volunteer to help organizations and let people know Key is here for the community. It’s not just about sending a check; it’s about being involved and being active next to each other.

From the employee aspect, once we’re able to meet in person, we can reach out and educate more employees. Personally, I’m hoping to make people more aware of different things, whether it’s educating people about pronoun use or how we can simply be out in the community. I think people meeting in person helps, so they’re not just reading or hearing things, but they’re experiencing it.

KEITH: I agree. The whole point of us getting involved in our communities and getting our message out there is to show that we’re a very diverse population. It’s important that the rest of the population sees us as being an integrated part of the community.

For example, I recently joined the board of directors for Stonewall Speakers, which hosts panel discussions and shares stories at different schools and civic organizations throughout Connecticut. Of course, with COVID-19, we’re not able to do that now. So, we’re hosting virtual meetings instead. But, it’s still a way of getting that message out to the community at large and educating them.

KATIE: When I think about the future, the future is great. But we’re living in this exact moment. So, when we think about what we’re doing today, it’s an organic conversation. It’s being able to say to our employees: We’re here and here’s why we matter.

When you start a diversity and inclusion group, it’s important that you start inside. So, we have some virtual events planned for the upcoming weeks to educate, inspire, and engage our internal colleagues. We’re hosting a panel for people to share their stories and we’re running a telethon talent show where we’re going donate to a cause in our Connecticut/Massachusetts area.

One day we’ll be able to get out there and to be human again. But right now, we can’t. So, it’s thinking about how we can make an impact today within our virtual limitations. And, doing it internally, we’ve been able to inspire people to get excited about our next steps.

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