TD celebrates the dedication and bravery of all military personnel. We have a growing community of veterans who bring a unique perspective to our business and a passion for going above and beyond. Our mission is to build upon our commitment by creating a community where all active duty, reserve, former military and services members can share their experiences, grow their careers and raise awareness of veteran matters to our colleagues, customers and communities.
Victor Joseph, a United States Navy Veteran and Senior Business Analyst in TD's Card Operations Partner Management department, found himself in an unfamiliar place speaking about race.
As a youngster, he saw the benefits of being disciplined and orderly from the best source possible – his father, a Drill Sergeant in the Army in Columbus, Georgia, next door to Fort Benning. Victor was raised to make his bed, work hard and show respect.
What Victor wasn't raised to do was talk about race. It was on the short list of do not discuss topics along with religion and politics, because it could lead to divisiveness – especially at work.
But that all changed last summer in the U.S. as the nation turned its focus to the topic of racism and the devastating consequences. It had an impact on Victor in every aspect of his life, including work.
"Following the death of George Floyd, TD immediately started to have conversations at all levels across the bank," Victor said. "I got nervous because it was so uncomfortable. But ultimately those conversations were a catalyst for the bigger things that TD has set out to do. TD wasn’t afraid to talk about racism when a lot of other companies and people were."
Victor recalled communications and colleague forums where leaders were asking questions and really tackling the issues head on – openly, honestly and directly. As the national conversation about race turned its attention toward American institutions like the U.S. Armed Forces, Victor reflected on his own experiences as a Black man both in and out of the military.
Victor had a complex reaction to Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin being found guilty on all three counts of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
"When the trial began, I chose not to follow it," he said. "Quite honestly, I had already put in my mind that justice would not be served, and Derek Chauvin would be acquitted from that horrible act of excessive force on a human being … My first reaction when I heard the verdict was relief for the family of George Floyd. I'm sure the pain of watching that horrific video over and over during the trial was a deep pain too heavy to carry. I hope this event will bring about more change in the U.S. and the world with the understanding that wrong is wrong and right is right. It's not hard to identify the difference."
Proud Navy veteran and proud TD colleague
Victor acknowledged that racism exists even in the military.
"But even though you knew how someone was raised, or they said something racist as a joke or otherwise, it seemed as though there was ultimately still a baseline understanding and foundation of respect," he said. "Because no matter who you were or where you came from, we all took the same oath to sacrifice our life for the person next to us and for our country. Ultimately, that choice was bigger than any bias. That choice was personal and deliberate, and we trusted it – it bonded us together."
Although the military and private sectors are vastly different, Victor realized there was more commonality between his experience in the Navy and his experience at TD than he had ever expected.
"In the Navy, we quickly acknowledged our differences and worked on them – it was critical to our success that we identified each other's strengths and weaknesses, because you're in situations where you have to depend on each other regardless of your differences," he explained. "There's something bigger than you that you’re fighting for and that common goal keeps you going."
Victor realized TD didn’t shy away from acknowledging the ways we can be better as an organization and empowers its colleagues to come together to work towards shared commitments both inside and outside of the bank.
"My senior manager started our meeting by just laying it all out on the table. He told us he just wanted to listen. And even though I was sweating a little bit as the only Black male on my team, I spoke up to tell him how much I appreciated him putting it out there an acknowledging what happened," he said. "That was so unbelievable to me, and I wanted to see how far TD would take it."
Then Victor started seeing more communications. He was invited to join more forums and take part in more conversations. He saw TD expanding employee networks and providing resources to support employees and leaders. He saw action steps outlined, commitments made and then the allocation of funding to back up those commitments – all aimed at bettering the experience of Black colleagues, customers and communities.
"It was truly amazing to me," Victor reflected. "TD was uniting people at a time when the country had never felt more divided. And I said it to myself then and feel that same way now, I hope I can work for this company until the day I retire. I'm proud to be a U.S. Navy Veteran and I'm proud to work for TD Bank."