What is Corporate America’s responsibility in helping their communities?

This is a question some of the biggest companies in the world are asking themselves as employees are prodding for bold change. The companies which employ most of us are realizing that their economic impact runs so much deeper than their stock prices. From how their employees feel seen and heard to what is going right outside of their front doors, businesses can make positive transformations on a bigger scale collectively than they can individually. The issues that face our military, veterans, and their families are no different.

Veteran Business or Employee Resource Groups, sometimes referred to as BRGs or ERGs, can be an integral part to providing this actionable return for their companies. According to Dr. Sheldon Goode, a corporate diversity leader with more than two decades of experience in diversity and human resource management, says that by utilizing their BRGs companies are not only better at understanding their own workforce but are also gaining insight on how to better engage with more customers and their communities.[1]

Fostering an environment of collaboration is key in getting anything done efficiently and effectively. It starts with communication that is clear, concise, and can mature to a plan and call to action; a concept not foreign to Military personnel.

As a military sister since the age of 15, the idea that we can come from different backgrounds, represent different companies (a lot of times in the same industries), and put ego at the door and just do what is right for our military and veterans is what initially brought me to VETLANTA. Little did I know at the time that was one of the founding pillars John Phillips and Lloyd Knight built VETLANTA upon in 2014. That virtue continues to be their glue today. Check out the VETLANTA Story here.

I work for a large financial institution, and coincidentally some of my first contacts within VETLANTA were two other individuals who also worked in the financial industry. At first, I was a bit intimidated and wondered how do we all fit here? I quickly learned that we all shared in the same goal of helping veterans, and that goal superseded any quota.

In 2017, I took on the Enterprise role for my company’s Veteran & Military BRG, and to be honest I needed all the help I could get! I needed a way to hear what others were doing, and what they had already done. I wanted to learn from their triumphs, as well as their mistakes, so I could see how to bring it back to my company. I also wanted to learn more about the other organizations that were out there, and how best to uncover the needs of the veteran community in Atlanta. The collaboration I found through the VETLANTA organization exceeded my expectations. I did not have to reinvent the wheel, but instead found myself in an environment that fosters collaboration where we could take what’s worked, and move it forward with new ideas.

The connections I’ve so gratefully garnered through VETLANTA and my role within my BRG have helped me grow personally and professionally. Growth that has helped me to channel my company’s resources effectually in the veteran community. As VETLANTA’s VBRG Lead, my mission is to continue to provide veteran-minded business leaders a safe and trusted place to share ideas, best practices, and provide a network to connect to organizations in need. Moving the needle for veterans, as well as their families, in Atlanta should be done by including our businesses in the conversation. We have seen time-and-time again that when our veterans win, our communities win; and when our communities win so do our companies.

 

Stephanie RayStephanie Ray 

Assistant Vice President, BB&T@Work Financial Wellness Consultant II at BB&T now Truist | Veteran Advocate, VETLANTA VBRG Lead

 

Stephanie Ray celebrated 14 years with BB&T, now Truist, in October, where she serves as an Assistant Vice President for the BB&T now Truist @Work Financial Wellness program; a position that allows her to support the financial education of the employees of local Atlanta businesses through various resources centered around providing a strong understanding of banking in a modern society. In addition, Stephanie is the Corporate Co-Chair for the Truist SERVE (Serving Emergency Responders and Veteran Engagement) Business Resource Group (BRG) which has afforded her the additional opportunities to connect with and support Truist’s Veteran employees & their families, partner with impactful Veteran organizations for philanthropic efforts, as well as shape corporate culture by championing the needs of Veterans.

 

 

 

 

[1]  https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/0916/pages/are-employee-resource-groups-good-for-business.aspx

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