Banking, en Español (and more)

September 29, 2016 | GET MORE : Life

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A U.S. Bank branch manager is embracing the diversity of the surrounding community.

Hola! Bonjour! Iska waran!

Walk in René Madrid's U.S. Bank branch in south Minneapolis and you may hear bankers speaking with customers in 12 languages.

Over the past six years Madrid, the branch manager, has set out to make sure that the bankers in his branch reflect the diversity of the surrounding community. As a result, on any given day you’ll hear Spanish, Somali, Arabic, Amharic, French, Hindi, Moroccan, Nepali or African languages Fante, Ga, Tigray and Twi.

The vast majority (around 80 percent) of the branch's customers are ethnic minorities, primarily Hispanic and Somali. Madrid said many of the customers are immigrants, often coming from unbanked or underbanked backgrounds.

"People come from countries that hadn’t been a part of a banking system. They come to a new country, a new system and a new process," said Madrid, who was born in El Salvador, immigrated to the United States when he was a senior in high school and got into banking as a part-time teller during college.

In addition to helping customers work toward financial milestones small and big (from understanding financial terminology to saving for a home), Madrid is heavily involved in the community. He works with Twin Cities nonprofits Latino Economic Development Center, Metropolitan Economic Development Association and Project for Pride in Living to teach money management basics, chart out plans for families to save for homes and help entrepreneurial immigrants start businesses.

"As bankers, we're able to see our customers' dreams come true. I always tell my new bankers, 'If you do the right thing for your customer, know that you are a part of something really big,'" said Madrid. Among his recent new hires, two people who he'd initially taught and gotten to know when they were clients of Project for Pride in Living.

Madrid isn't the only one at U.S. Bank working to address our country's changing demographics.

Ninety-four percent of new population growth in U.S. Bank's retail footprint will come from multicultural consumers. Greg Cunningham, head of global inclusion and diversity for U.S. Bank, recently wrote about his role and how the bank is working to ensure its employees reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.

To help become the bank of choice for consumers and employees, U.S. Bank has developed Business Resource Groups (BRGs), which bring together employees who have similar backgrounds, experiences or interests and their supporters. The bank's current BRGs are African American, Asian Heritage, Spectrum LGBT, Proud to Serve military and U.S. Bank Women. In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, it launched a new group for Latino employees this month: the Nosotros BRG, which means "us" in Spanish.

BRGs offer a variety of events and activities for employees who choose to participate, including guest speakers, professional development seminars, discussion forums, volunteer opportunities, and more. Above all else, the groups can give employees a sought-after sense of community within the company.

It's this same sense of community that Madrid aims to foster in south Minneapolis.

"I want our customers and employees to walk in here and feel at home," he said.

Pat Swanson is a member of U.S. Bank’s corporate communications team.