There is strength in what makes us unique
Craig Johnson began his Webster career in 2014 as an Assistant Banking Center Manager in Mamaroneck, New York. Two years later, he was promoted to Banking Center Manager at McLean Avenue, and in 2019, he became a Bank at Work Relationship Manager for the Coastal Valley and Fairchester districts, supporting 33 banking centers. He has been involved with the bank’s Pride Month efforts since he started working at Webster, and is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
Q. Tell us about your background.
A. I come from a simple background, one of five biracial children growing up in the Bronx. My father died when I was very young. My mom was the hardest working woman I know. She always told us to share and that we could be whatever we wanted to be. About midway through high school my mom sold her insurance business and relocated us all to Polk County, Florida, where all the oranges are grown. Could you imagine the culture shock going from the biggest city in the country to the country? But it was beautiful. I learned that I had a passion for music, specifically singing, and I picked up my very first job performing at Disney World’s EPCOT Candlelight Processional. At Stetson University, I dual-majored in music and business administration, and worked in the college finance department and at a local bank. That's what got me into the finance world. After college, I followed both dreams and moved back to New York, where I still reside with my partner and where I have passionately devoted myself to both music and finance for 11 years now. While working in Stetson’s finance office, I realized that it didn't matter what someone looked like, what their gender pronouns were or who they loved. They all shared common financial challenges that we needed to find solutions for. Coming from that environment going into the so-called real world, I realized that it's an “everybody” issue. It was there that I grew my passion for DEI. They all shared common financial challenges that we needed to find solutions for. Coming from that environment going into the so-called real world, I realized that it's an “everybody” issue. It was there that I grew my passion for DEI.
Q. Why do you think DEI is important?
A. For me, it’s about anyone of any background being able to celebrate your accomplishments, because there is strength in what makes us unique. And it carries over into the theme of diversity, equity and inclusion and something that I've learned to call ATCCE, attracting talent, community, confidence and employees. When you're holding the ace, you're winning. Younger job seekers today want to see if senior leaders represent diversity and if an organization is somewhere they can grow. In terms of community, it's all about involvement. Do you hire from the community? DEI in this sense enables an organization to showcase its support for and get more value from the community it serves. Confidence comes when you embrace DEI and welcome a variety of perspectives that then allows for greater innovation through variety of perspectives. And our employees are the single most important reason for DEI. A company that respects diversity and inclusion creates a safe space for employees to be themselves and produce their best work. People feel accepted and valued, they stay longer and they're happier. With diversity comes the ingenuity and inventiveness that we embody here.
Q. How have you implemented the principles of DEI in your role?
A. Webster values are at our core. We use them to effortlessly breathe life into so much of what happens internally and externally during Pride Month and all year long. We have ATM messages, we have a Webster Pride logo, and we have Pride Gifts for the network, banking center and hub site TV displays, and formal DEI training. Businesses owned by LGBT plus allies were featured on our social media all month long. We’re seeing messages from the CEO, and there were Webster-sponsored Pride events in every state of our footprint from Massachusetts through Wisconsin. With COVID-19 we had to get really creative this year but Pride doesn't start or stop because a particular festival is or is not happening. Because Pride is in all of us, the Pride Employee Resource Group is preparing to share its powerful mission. It's a phenomenal time to be a Webster banker. I'm proud to bleed blue.