Berkshire Bank: Angela Dixon: Collaboration and Community Key to Leading Berkshire Bank’s DEI Efforts

Angela Dixon leads diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as senior vice president, chief diversity officer, for Berkshire Bank, a $12 billion institution headquartered in Boston, MA, with financial centers in New York and New England. She joined Berkshire in 2021 to integrate DEI throughout the bank’s products and services. Dixon’s varied and valuable experience in other sectors, including serving as the deputy comptroller for human resources and administration for the State of New York Comptroller’s Office, gives her the expertise to develop competitive strategies that propel Berkshire Bank’s DEI efforts forward.

Bringing Accessible Banking to Diverse Communities

Dixon takes the approach that DEI is an ongoing journey, and that organizations and individuals are at varying stages of leadership and development. Key to success, however, is working toward the goal of embedding DEI throughout the fabric of the organization: in its workforce, products, and innovations in service delivery. Doing this with excellence can lead to long-term impacts that are good for the community, stakeholders, and shareholders. This socially responsible and community-oriented mindset aims to level the playing field across the Bank’s footprint and especially within our many diverse communities.

One tangible way the Bank achieves this is developing a comprehensive suite of products and services designed to help foster financial inclusion, enhance economic mobility, and bring the unbanked and underbanked into the banking system. Berkshire offers several no- and low-cost checking and savings accounts. These solutions offer core banking services without extra fees, eliminating barriers to establishing a banking relationship. To support entrepreneurs, Berkshire offers a line of credit program designed for people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community, women and veterans who have traditionally had limited access to capital. Berkshire has a substantial investment in supporting business owners and nonprofits.

Building an Inclusive Culture Starts with Engaging Employees

“Internally, Berkshire Bank provides strategies, tools and the support needed to engage its greatest resource — its employees – in effectively advancing the enterprise’s DEI priorities. Equally important is cultivating an open environment where everyone can be authentic and feel valued for the perspectives and experiences they bring,” says Dixon.

Often in large organizations, the words diversity, equity and inclusion can be confusing or a deterrent to participation from a broad employee base. Dixon has used her expertise to help clarify the Bank’s goals and shape inclusive education and training, foster opportunities for open dialogue and raise awareness necessary to make lasting, meaningful changes.

One challenge has been implementing the program across multiple lines of business. With so much organizational variety, collaboration and communication are critical. The value of what DEI can bring to the organization can be underestimated. Some employees may perceive that the goals of DEI are well underway or that the mission has been achieved. It’s important to note that different lines of business have varying metrics for success, yet all can contribute. It is important to define the opportunities in terms that align with business strategy.

Supporting Communities with Lasting Impact

If meaningful change of company culture begins with its employees, then meaningful community impact begins with small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Supporting community businesses and nonprofits has been a key to the Bank’s efforts to improve equity and access.

Another important goal of Berkshire’s is to expand its commitment to supplier diversity. Berkshire wants to ensure that relationships with third-party vendors of minority-owned, women-owned, and traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, are expanded as it seeks to procure products and services used in its own operations.

The simple decision of where individuals, companies and organizations bank and how a bank deploys its depositors’ money can have a big impact on community — which Berkshire Bank strives to demonstrate every day.

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