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The Power of Black History
• Feb 4, 2020

All voices and perspectives should be heard at every level

Note: The following article was originally posted to LinkedIn. John Patton is TD Bank's U.S. Diversity & Inclusion Lead. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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That was my initial response when someone recently asked me how they should celebrate Black History Month.

This may not be easy for everyone, but it is for my colleagues at TD Bank. You see we have events for this important month in every part of our footprint from Maine to Florida. The bank truly does value Diversity & Inclusion, it walks the talk, which is why I took the role of TD's U.S. Diversity & Inclusion Lead eight months ago.

TD's celebration of Black History Month introduces our Diversity & Inclusion theme for 2020 of The Power of Our Stories, which highlights the efforts of our colleagues and customers and celebrates our partnerships.

My role is to provide momentum, and strategy around D&I events. There is a huge energy for embracing these events and support of the importance of D&I from customers and colleagues.

As for the country, I believe black culture is still on a journey. As an African-American Gen Xer, I've seen so many changes in my lifetime. A huge part of my ancestors' history was left out of my elementary education.

Today, the belief that black history is not just an individual group's history, but a shared history, an American history is becoming more embedded in our national discussion, but still has a long way to go. I see how my millennial children don't understand why Black History Month is only a month, that it should be the standard for the entire year. They are not alone. The reality is that only a few years ago, this perspective was not as embraced.

What is the right focus

In considering what is the best way to celebrate Black History Month and recognizing the journey, there are different takes. Some people prefer to focus on honoring the memory of the heroes in our history. I prefer to do a hybrid of both looking back and focusing on the future as well. While I think it's so important to recognize the struggles and achievements, it may even be more important to see how both as individuals and a society, we can do better.

TD Bank has created a culture of inclusiveness, where D&I is one of the most important values at our business. But in my role, I will look at the gaps, and make sure that we have enough training and communications so that every colleague feels welcome and included in every conversation.

My focus will be to make sure there is representation in leadership including people of color, women and every other diverse group throughout the bank. I want to emphasize that all voices and perspectives should be heard at every level. This is ultimately the best way to honor those who had the courage to take the steps to change our nation for the better in the past and help realize the ultimate goal of all people having the full opportunity to participate in the American dream.

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