6/15/2020 3:00:00 PM | Community, Newsroom

Change Starts Now - A message from Cort O'Haver, CEO

The events of the past few weeks have been a clear and painful reminder of the historic and systemic racism that's made both daily indignities and extreme acts of violence possible, even common against people of color across our country. The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery are just the latest, most shocking evidence of how far we still have to go.

To our associates, customers and communities, especially those of color, I want you to know that Umpqua stands clearly and unequivocally against racism, prejudice and discrimination of any kind. We grieve with you and stand strongly with those calling for change, equality and justice. We can and must do better as a country and as people.

I believe change starts with acknowledging that racism exists and actively confronting the history and pattern of discrimination that's led to its presence across all parts of our society. Most of all, we must commit to continuing the important, ongoing work of taking sustained actions that actively seek to make our company and communities safe and inclusive for all.

Umpqua has worked for years to level the economic playing field, to help people from all backgrounds achieve their financial potential. But it's clear we can and must do more. As initial steps, and to support our associates' passion for racial equality, we're matching your contributions to social justice organizations 3:1 this month and creating virtual volunteer opportunities for each of us to contribute to organizations working for change. And we've compiled resources and activated our Employee Assistance Program to support those who are grieving.

In addition, we're working on a long-term, sustainable plan to elevate and accelerate our commitment to improve economic opportunity in com​​munities of color. This will include enhanced internal training and programs as well as external investments that support access to capital for small businesses, affordable home ownership, and educational attainment so critical to economic empowerment. Here in Portland, we're partnering with leaders of the black business community and other entities to form a working group that addresses more strategically the role banks can play in creating long-term change and impact.

We don't have all the answers, but are deeply committed to continuing to learn and understand where and how we can take additional steps to make meaningful, sustained change within our company and across our communities.

Now more than ever, we must embrace the urgent need for action and do our part to create communities that are safe, equitable and inclusive for all.

Cort O'Haver