ELFA Equality Movement Champions Diversity and Inclusion
The ELFA Equality Steering Committee
has a big mission—and you are invited to contribute.
Committee Chair Scott Thacker, CEO of Ivory Consulting Corporation and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, explains: “The association created ELFA Equality to promote equality everywhere and to welcome everyone. We believe all members have a responsibility to make this vision a reality in our industry and, more broadly, in society as a whole.”
Everyone not only has a responsibility in this effort—the entire industry stands to benefit. By embracing diversity and welcoming all ideas to the table, the Equality Steering Committee aims to help strengthen member organizations and create a more vibrant future for the industry.
“I’m proud to be a member of the equipment finance industry and believe that we, as leaders of our essential industry, have an obligation to make sure our companies evolve in order to attract the best talent and provide the best financial solutions to our diverse customers,” says committee member Kyin Lok, President and CEO, DEXT Capital. “This includes creating a welcoming environment where diverse perspectives can thrive and people of all races, genders and sexual orientations feel included. ELFA Equality is the catalyst for making this dream a reality.”
Ready to get involved but not sure where to start? The Equality Steering Committee is rolling out new resources to help you participate or share your perspective. Read on for more information about this hard-working committee, which is made up of a diverse group of volunteers and supportive allies who are working tirelessly to advocate for equality and inclusion for all.
A Strong Vision
The ELFA Equality movement started in 2018, when the ELFA Board of Directors established a Diversity Work Group and added new language to the association’s mission statement and strategic plan affirming its commitment to diversity and inclusion. In 2019, the Board formed the Equality Steering Committee to advance efforts to foster equality, diversity and inclusion across the association and the equipment finance industry.
The committee developed a strong vision statement to guide its work, which reads:
ELFA Equality is committed to making sure that all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical characteristics or mental abilities, feel welcome and valued in the equipment finance industry, ELFA and member companies.
To fulfill this vision, the committee identified three main areas of focus:
- Awareness: Providing education, information and insights to identify opportunities for increased diversity participation in ELFA and the equipment finance industry.
- Advocacy: Promoting the advancement of diversity in hiring and volunteering in ELFA and in member companies.
- Action: Preparing programs and mentoring activities that can assist in achieving greater diversity balance.
The committee established a robust agenda for 2020. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of plans were put on hold. (For example, the committee postponed presentations at several in-person ELFA events that were cancelled this year.) However, with a continued focus on their mission of fostering equality, diversity and inclusion, the committee is continuing to make an impact through a series of new initiatives.
Taking a Stand
In early June, in response to widespread demonstrations across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, the Equality Steering Committee drafted a statement pledging to use the ELFA Equality movement to fight racial injustice and intolerance. The statement read, in part:
We are saddened by the events unfolding in the United States centered on racial injustice and intolerance…. Tragically, the issues of prejudice and injustice are rooted in our history, and the time has come to rid our society of these unjust and intolerable behaviors once and for all. While ELFA has been striving for inclusion and diversity, we pledge to do more by having difficult conversations that lead to actions, results and, ultimately, change. Please join us by working with ELFA Equality on conversations and actions that will make a difference for our industry and society.
ELFA released the statement to industry press and shared it via the association’s social media channels, where it garnered a positive response from the membership. Read the full statement here
Focusing on Education
As a follow up to the press statement, the Equality Committee has launched a series of webinars on diversity and inclusion topics as part of ELFA’s popular Wednesday Webinars series.
The first event, “Bold Conversations to Effect Positive Change: Striving for Equality,” was held on July 8. It focused on the value of having uncomfortable and bold conversations that lead to acknowledgement, affirmation and action. The webinar included a dialogue about prejudice and the tangible actions that can be taken by individuals, teams, companies and the industry collectively to combat racial injustice and intolerance.
The second event, “An Introduction to Unconscious Bias” on July 15, was presented by Janet Pope, North America Corporate Responsibility Director at Capgemini. Pope guided participants through such questions as, “What ‘blind spots’ shape your view of yourself and others?” and explored strategies for mitigating bias and integrating inclusive leadership behaviors into day-to-day life. Learn more about these events
Also this summer, the committee released a Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit for ELFA members. The toolkit highlights the business case for diversity and inclusion, outlines key definitions and provides links to tools for driving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Committee member Charles Hill, HR Business Partner at DLL, explains that the D&I Toolkit is designed to support member companies in their journey of fostering a diverse and inclusive culture within their organizations. “Our ambition is for each member company to have an organizational culture where individual differences are acknowledged and individuals feel a sense of belonging where they are respected, supported, heard, and treated fairly.”
Scott Thacker notes that there’s a strong business case for embracing diversity. “The equipment finance industry thrives on innovation, and innovation thrives on diversity,” he says. “Several reputable studies have demonstrated that businesses that embrace diversity, inclusion and equality are more profitable and attract more talented people than those that do not infuse diversity throughout their business practices and culture.”
The Equality Steering Committee also has launched the ELFA Equality LinkedIn Group to bring industry professionals together in support of diversity and inclusion. This group is designed as a forum to share information, exchange ideas and network with other members of the equipment finance community.
“The ELFA Equality LinkedIn group keeps those members committed to advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives within our industry informed of the latest news and information,” says committee member Stuart Papavassiliou, Executive Editor at LEAF Commercial Capital Inc. “It’s a great way to keep up with ELFA Equality’s efforts and connect with industry colleagues who share this commitment. Staying informed is especially important in these times with so much happening on many fronts.”
All ELFA members are encouraged to connect with the group at www.linkedin.com/groups/12317521/
Bringing a Goal to Life
As the Equality Committee continues to advocate for change, ELFA Board Chair Martha Ahlers, President of United Leasing & Finance, encourages you to join their efforts.
“Growing our diversity and inclusion is part of ELFA’s mission, and it’s enormously important,” says Ahlers. “I believe everyone is valuable, and it’s critical that all people are welcomed and valued across our association and our industry. We look forward to finding more ways to bring people of different backgrounds to the table to broaden our perspective and enhance our decision-making. We thank the ELFA Equality Steering Committee and all the ELFA members who are working together to bring this goal to life.”
Meet the Steering Committee
The ELFA Equality Steering Committee includes a diverse group of volunteers and supportive allies:
Scott Thacker, CPA, CLFP, Chair
, Chief Executive Officer, Ivory Consulting Corporation
, Director - Banking & Diversified Financials, Capgemini America, Inc.
Deborah Baker, Women’s Council Rep.
, Head of Worldwide Leasing and Financing, HP Inc.
, Assistant Finance Manager, LEAF Commercial Capital Inc.
David Cramer, CLFP
, IT Systems Administrator, Amur Equipment Finance
, Senior Vice President, Group Head, Fifth Third Bank
, CFO and Chief Operating Officer, Pitney Bowes Global Financial Services
, HR Business Partner, DLL
, President and CEO, Dext Capital
, ETAC Rep.
, Marketing Director, Stryker Flex Financial
David Normandin, CLFP, ELFA Board Rep.
, President & Chief Executive Officer, Wintrust Specialty Finance
, Executive Editor, LEAF Commercial Capital Inc.
, Publisher, Monitor/monitordaily.com
, Staff Liaison
, VP, Business and Professional Development, ELFA
, President, Farm Credit Leasing
Delroy Stauffer, CLFP
, Senior Marketing Associate, Odessa
, Managing Director, Capital Markets, Cisco Systems Capital Corporation
, Director of Business Development, Tech Defenders
An ELFA Equality Steering Committee meeting in June.