Inspiring and Empowering Our Female Colleagues at Valley

By Apple White and Urszula Wisniowski • Valley Bank

Library | 3/24/2021
Inspiring and Empowering Our Female Colleagues at Valley

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At Valley, we believe that it’s the diversity of our associates that make us great, and our inclusive and equitable culture thrives when our associates bring their ideas, perspectives and authentic selves to work. To support our commitment to elevating women’s voices in the workplace, we launched the Women Influencing Success and Empowerment (WISE) associate resource group in December 2020.


WISE is dedicated to the empowerment of women in Valley’s workplace and in the communities we serve. Our tribe of women and men who are allies strive to educate, connect, elevate and empower women, by providing inclusive networking, professional development and opportunities for collaboration and community outreach.


Celebrating women’s history with WISE

March is Women’s History Month and the perfect opportunity to celebrate, learn from and be inspired by women who carved a path for the successes we can achieve now and those who are helping to amplify the voice of others for future generations.


Our 2021 WISE celebration is aligned with the National Women’s History Alliance theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced.” We’re honoring the important roles of multicultural suffragists, voting rights activists, artists, innovators and inventors throughout history who refused to allow their voices to be silenced. On our dedicated internal website, we’re posting weekly features of trailblazers who have made a positive and lasting impression on technology, innovation, the arts, science and more.


WISE has also offered several opportunities for Valley associates to actively engage and learn about women’s perspectives in the work world. We hosted a “Three WISE Women” panel where managers from our lines of business joined Chief People Officer, Yvonne Surowiec, in a discussion about their career paths and their thoughts on leadership. We’d like to send a special congratulations to panelist Josephine Savastano, EVP, Chief Lending Officer, NY & NJ and WISE Leadership Advisor, for being honored in Crain’s Notable Women of Wall Street 2021. During the WISE Fireside Chat event, we featured guest speaker, Elizabeth Dodson, Co-Founder of HomeZada,  who shared her insights as a woman entrepreneur.  She recently won the 2019 Quesnay Female Founders in Fintech Pitch Competition with Valley’s own Stuart Cook, Chief Digital Product Officer, as her mentor. And finally, we launched the WISE Community Board, an interactive online venue where every associate can share stories about how they’ve been inspired by women and the lessons learned that might encourage other women in return.


Starting your own internal community for women

Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) serve to bring together people who share a common characteristic, affinity or interest to foster a diverse and inclusive environment. Specifically, for WISE, we believe that a purpose-driven focus on all levels of support, mentorship and sponsorship will help women prepare for and thrive in leadership roles at any stage of their careers.


ARGs are culture-builders, and creating a sustainable program takes the combination of engaged employee participation and a structured, dedicated leadership team. Some key steps for getting started are:

  • Seek input from your own employees from a mix of departments, locations and levels to discover shared interests

  • Make the business case for diversity to secure leadership buy-in and sponsorship

  • Articulate the group’s mission and purpose and establish a structure that suits your members and helps to achieve your goals

  • Think big, but start small so that expectations are realistic and achievable

  • Spread the word at every opportunity and take advantage of the momentum of each success


One final, but essential, component of a successful internal community of women is having the support of senior management. At Valley, we are privileged to have Tammy Mata as our Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, a dedicated advocate at a senior leadership level who helps to ensure a unified strategic direction and a strong connection across multiple resource groups.


Women have come a long way in the business world and are making great strides in many entrepreneurial areas. At Valley, we’re proud to encourage support our female colleagues and offer these resources. We hope to inspire more communities like WISE within other organizations and continue helping women move forward.  


Valley Women in Business
Inspiring Women

Valley Women in Business

Valley's Women in Business program connects and empowers professional women. From entrepreneurs, to executives; we provide networking and educational opportunities that enrich the professional lives of women at every stage of their career.

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