Leading Valley forward with a just
moral compass

By Ira Robbins, President & CEO

Library | 6/15/2020

As I watched the video of the tragic murder of George Floyd, I, like many of you, felt an intense feeling of injustice and pain. I watched with tense emotions the protests and riots which seemingly were an immediate reaction; yet, on a grander scale, they were a reaction to generations of inequality.

     

Candidly, I asked myself: What am I to do? What is my responsibility as a leader and, more importantly, as a human being born of the same blood as those being oppressed? For African Americans, this is more than a moment in time, but rather the lived experiences of their parents, grandparents, great grandparents and so on. Although I will never be able to comprehend the immense feeling of injustice by these instances, my role isn’t to fully comprehend. For it isn’t enough to not be a racist, we all need to consciously become actively anti-racist.

    

So, what are we to do? How am I, as a white male, supposed to make an impact or leave my fingerprint? How does one person, working for a Bank, have the capacity to be a participant in mandating change as opposed to be a spectator supporting the movement?

     

Banks, more than any other industry, play a critical role in advancing equality. We are the facilitators of economic growth. And it is now more important than ever we demonstrate our connectedness with the community and play our role in being a catalyst for change. For whether you realize it or not, we have chosen a noble profession as bankers. We have the power to implement change more efficiently and timely than any elected official and stamp out income inequality.

     

It’s one thing to tell the world that 26% of the Paycheck Protection loans we funded were to minority owned small businesses. Or that we received an outstanding on our Community Reinvestment Act evaluation. Or that we have programs, like our first-time home buyer program, dedicated to support low-to-moderate income families. I’m certainly proud of what we do, but I’m not naive to think it’s enough. That’s why today I commit to:

    
  • Add another diverse member to our Board of Directors and enhance our diversity and inclusion initiatives bank-wide

  • Expand our vendor relationships and spend with minority owned businesses

  • Staying true to our purpose by providing the communities we serve access to capital and banking solutions designed to meet their needs

   

Valley will be a leader. We hold the key to foster income equality and expand social justice across all our communities. And for Valley, the traditional goals of a public company are absolutely not mutually exclusive with our social responsibility.

    

When Valley thrives, our associates thrive, and our communities thrive. I stand for social justice and I’m committed to leading Valley forward with a just moral compass.


     

Sincerely,



  
 

 Ira Robbins, President & CEO