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Talking Diversity with Citi Leadership: Recognizing Black History Month and Supporting our Black Heritage Affinity

February 26, 2018
Stephen Bird, CEO, Global Consumer Banking
Mark Mason, Chief Financial Officer

Stephen Bird and Mark Mason are co-leads of Citi's Black Heritage Affinity. Here they share their thoughts around Black History Month in the U.S. and our support for our Black colleagues across the globe.

Black History Month 2February is Black History Month in the U.S. It is a time to celebrate the achievements of Black Americans and recognize the important and defining role they have played and continue to play in shaping the history of the United States. As co-leads of Citi's Black Heritage Affinity, this month is important to us and to the members of our 10 U.S.-based Black Heritage Network chapters for many reasons. First, it gives us an opportunity to more fully understand and appreciate the role that Black Americans occupy in our national past and present, which in turn enables us to work toward creating a more inclusive future. This is a celebration but also a reflection, which provides us all with a pointed opening to ask the difficult questions of ourselves and to have the sometimes uncomfortable conversations necessary to help us promote progress.

To help celebrate the accomplishments of this incredible community and shine a spotlight on the ongoing challenges they face, this month we held a series of events with colleagues featuring inspiring speakers who brought up thought-provoking topics that led to healthy conversations and an honest dialogue about the work that remains to be done.

This year, our theme for Black History Month was "Lift Every Voice" and through these events and other internal forums we hoped to turn our attention to using our collective voices to facilitate conversations on race as a company in a productive manner so we can all benefit and learn. At one of our flagship events with colleagues in Chicago we sat down with Dr. Khalil Muhammad who led us in a candid discussion about the intersections of race and democracy in the U.S. Dr. Muhammad is a professor of history, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Our session with Dr. Muhammad uncovered how to break down barriers impeding racial progress and move our society forward. In addition, we held a workshop with many of our senior leaders to help them build their capabilities on how to discuss the implications of race in the workplace. Through this workshop and other sessions like it, we are making efforts to equip our leaders to have these important conversations.

This month, we also announced that Citi has signed on to the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge, joining more than 350 CEOs and presidents committed to driving policy changes and practices in their companies and other organizations to help advance equitable workplaces.

While conversations on race will be a big focus for us this year, we remain steadfast in executing on the other tenets of our strategy including workforce representation, promotion and development, as well as recruitment and retention of our Black colleagues. As we all know, this is a journey, but we feel good about the progress we are making and the transparent goals we are setting for ourselves. We look forward to continuing our efforts to make Citi an employer of choice for Black talent.

We asked members of our Black Heritage Network to share with us what Black History Month means to them. Check out a few of their responses here.

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