Blog Post 3 min read

Important message from our Chair and CEO Bob Rivers

By Bob Rivers, Jun. 11, 2020
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To our valued customers,

Why am I sending you this letter today? It is because this moment, as well as the days, months and years ahead, demands it. Although we have been a strong advocate on behalf of a number of social justice and sustainability causes, including advancing racial equity in a number of ways, we have never leaned into this issue specifically – that is the continued murder and violence against Black people. Our reflections and discussions with our Black colleagues undeniably call this out as important and necessary.

To you our customer and to the Eastern community I say as plainly as possible that our company condemns all forms of racism — from the violent to the casual to the political. This isn’t just about the shocking deaths and violent incidents captured on video. It’s also about the implicit bias and quiet discrimination that happens every day. It’s about the persistent inequality and disparities in healthcare, employment, housing, and banking and financial services, which we’ve seen play out even more tragically during the pandemic. It’s about a shameful and destructive lack of progress on race and equality in a country that celebrates progress in so many other areas.

We at Eastern are far from perfect. We have work to do internally and externally to live up to the ideals we cherish as a company. That includes continuing to listen to Black employees when they speak about their experiences. It includes expanding our support for groups working to strengthen all Black and Brown communities. It includes raising our voice even louder to support economic mobility, inclusion, and equity, and to fuel the ecosystem for entrepreneurs of color. It includes continuing to provide fairly-priced banking and financial services to those who are underserved and underbanked.

And it includes continuing to take a stand on issues that disproportionately impact the Black community.

We remain committed to engaging in meaningful action in addressing the racial inequities that are all around us, especially at a moment when they have been made unavoidably obvious. The pandemic has made racial disparities even more glaring. As a result, people of color are bearing a major brunt of the virus in terms of infection and death, as well as the ongoing risk of exposure by disproportionately staffing front line positions.

The resulting economic impacts fall hardest on communities of color as well due to an unrelenting racial income and wealth gap that has been made even larger over the past two months. We simply can no longer wait to do all we can.

In short, nothing will change until a bigger, broader group of people recognize and resoundingly raise our voices, together, to say enough is enough and we won’t stand for it anymore. For all that we may have done to help address these issues, we must now commit ourselves to doing more. The first step is nudging ourselves out of silence by talking about race and racism at the dinner table with family and friends -- and most of all by standing with our Black employees and members in our communities, and with all others who want to stand for and do more to eradicate racial injustice and work together for change.

Black Lives Matter.

There are many ways you can get more involved. Learn more about race and racism. Give to one of the organizations listed below. Volunteer and become more engaged. These are just a few examples; there are many, many more.

  1. Black Lives Matter Boston
  2. King Boston - the social justice institute arm of the King Memorial effort
  3. Becoming A Man - an organization that builds community among and support for young men of color in Boston and Cambridge schools
  4. DJ Henry Dream Fund
  5. Call Me Mister - building the national pipeline of African American male teachers
  6. Boston Black Hospitality Coalition
  7. Mothers for Justice and Equality
  8. The Black Economic Justice Institute
  9. Lawyers for Civil Rights

As always, I thank you for your business, your partnership, and your support.

Bob Rivers Signature
Racial Equity
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