A rainbow crosswalk leads the way to the U.S. Bank branch in West Hollywood.
And now, the colorful display of Pride continues inside. Over the past couple of weeks, the branch has been updated with permanent artwork and signage that celebrates the LGBTQ community.
U.S. Bank District Manager Hany Haddad said the updates are a nod to the history of the branch. In the 1980s, it was headquarters for the Bank of Los Angeles, which was founded and run by Sheldon Andelson, one of few openly gay executives in the banking industry and a nationally-recognized LGBTQ rights advocate.
For Haddad (pictured below), it’s also a continuation of efforts to ensure that the branch reflects the present and future of the surrounding community, which has one of the densest LGBTQ populations in the country.
“Imagery is really powerful,” he said. “We have all been moved by things we have seen. Even when it comes to marketing, let’s see a gay couple, a lesbian couple. It resonates to see your community in brightness.”
For a company that holds drawing strength from diversity as a core value, the branch makeover is not just superficial. U.S. Bank has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as a Best Place to Work for LBGTQ Equality for 12 consecutive years, since well before same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court in 2015.
Over that time, the company has demonstrated its commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community by:
In West Hollywood, Haddad said that this broad and public support has been more than just the right thing to do. It also helps the company attract and build meaningful relationships with customers and employees.
Employees such as Universal Banker Alexander Hudgens (pictured below).
Hudgens, an Arkansas native who has also lived in New York and Boston, moved to West Hollywood last year chasing warm weather and an accepting environment. With several years of experience in banking, he had offers from multiple banks in the region.
“It seems like every brand jumps in on [Pride] for the month of June,” Hudgens said. “But then you look at their history and wonder if they’re really ‘in it’ or just trying to profit. I did my research with U.S. Bank and saw that they’ve been a strong ally for years.”
He added that customer service was another determining factor, saying, “Before my interview, I sat in the lobby and I remember seeing how much time the bankers would spend with customers – they really cared.”
That tone is set by Branch Manager Elke Kerrigan. After 12 years as a banker in New York City, she was ready to swear off the industry when she and her husband moved last year to Southern California. But after a chance encounter with a U.S. Bank recruiter and a meeting with Haddad, her faith in relationship banking was renewed and she decided to give the industry one more chance.
With a few openings to fill on her new team, Kerrigan (pictured below in middle) set out looking for “the type of person who walks through the door with a smile, brings constant enthusiasm and is obsessed with helping customers” – like Hudgens, for example.
“In New York City, banking was more focused on sales than service,” she said. “At U.S. Bank and in West Hollywood, I’m back to saying that I love my job.”
And this time of year, Kerrigan might as well add “party planner” to her business card. Every June, the branch throws a party to celebrate its surrounding community and marches in the iconic LA Pride Parade in West Hollywood.
With proud employees and active community members like Kerrigan, Hudgens and Haddad, the traffic truly goes both ways on that rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of San Vicente and Santa Monica Boulevards.
“In West Hollywood and in the LGBTQ community, there is a stripe for everyone,” said Haddad, thinking back to the power of colors and imagery. “I want U.S. Bank to be seen the same way.”
Written by Pat Swanson of U.S. Bank with photos by freelance photographer Tara Pixley and Justine Perez of U.S. Bank.