Supporting Diverse Goals

Written by LaQuan Lucas-Harris, First Bank

At First Bank, Our Promise to Service Excellence states, “We help our customers realize their dreams by providing financial solutions and building trusted relationships.” Associates at the bank focus on this Promise every day in the way they support one another, service their customers, and contribute to their communities.  It’s at the forefront of every decision made and every action taken.  It is also a guide for leadership as they set the objectives for the First Bank Diversity Council, which was established in 2020 with a diverse mix of associates representing the various markets, ethnicities, and departments of First Bank.

At First Bank, we prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of our organization. We actively strive to ensure that all open positions are filled with a diverse pool of candidates so that we can continue to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.

We foster a work environment that not only respects all viewpoints but also provides equal access to opportunities for growth and development. By doing so, we create a culture of inclusion that empowers all of our associates to thrive.

To further our commitment to DEI, we offer ongoing learning opportunities for our associates to deepen their personal understanding of these important issues. We believe that by investing in our people, we can create a more equitable and just workplace for all.

Our efforts have paid off, as evidenced by our current statistics: 50% of our Corporate Executive Leadership team is made up of diverse individuals, and 76.7% of our overall workforce is composed of women and minorities. Additionally, we are proud to report that 55.5% of our managers are women.

First Bank is committed to adapting as our understanding of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion evolves.  One of the quality standards of Our Promise to Service Excellence states [in part], “We strive to build an inclusive organization that represents the communities we serve.” The Wake County First Bank Board has taken this standard to heart by creating diverse membership.  This includes Mr. John L Milner, a 32-year Health Care Safety veteran who also spent 10 years in Public Safety Services for Raleigh, NC.

John Milner has received numerous awards and recognition over the years including, “The Order of the Long Leaf Pine,” the highest award given to a civilian by the Governor of North Carolina.  He has also received the most distinguished and prestigious awards given by the Eta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity; the President’s Award, the Exceptional Service Award, and the most coveted award, “The Sigma Man of the Year”. First Bank is honored to have him on the Wake County Board to provide his knowledge and insight about diversity and culturally integrative initiatives that can help to increase and expand community involvement.

Recently, First Bank had the honor of being a Platinum sponsor of the Phi Beta Sigma Southeastern Region Leadership Conference. This event allowed the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma to experience workshops that focused on leadership, service, cultural inclusivity, first impressions, financial literacy, brotherhood, and more. Associates from First Bank connected with many of the members of the fraternity by offering a Financial Literacy Conversation.

This is a topic that many in the minority community are not comfortable discussing. During the morning session, the First Bank team answered many questions about credit, financial wealth, and the safety and soundness of the banking industry. Team members also spoke about the bank’s growing partnerships with many of the HBCUs in North Carolina to enhance recruiting efforts for both full-time associates, as well as summer interns.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, founded in 1914 at Howard University, has been providing 108 years of unwavering brotherhood with a powerful vision of serving the greater community. The fraternity has always emphasized an inclusive approach, fostering a sense of togetherness that transcends differences and celebrates diversity.

Their motto, “Culture for Service and Service for Humanity,” serves as a guiding principle that the fraternity members take seriously as they give back to their communities. The impact of their efforts is truly remarkable: mentoring 4,500 young men, contributing 363,000 hours of community service, and giving away $1.2 million in scholarships annually.

When John Milner, a member of Phi Beta Sigma, was asked how the fraternity embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion on such a large scale, he emphasized that inclusivity has been a fundamental value since the fraternity’s inception. Phi Beta Sigma’s membership includes college-educated men of diverse backgrounds, including Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native American, and African American heritage. Together, they make a significant impact on their communities, embodying the fraternity’s commitment to inclusivity and service.

Phi Beta Sigma’s impressive legacy of brotherhood and service is a testament to the power of inclusivity and diversity. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the modern world, we can all learn from their example and strive to create more inclusive and equitable communities.