New Haven, Conn. (WTNH) – Citizenship, Sustainability and Responsibility. These three words represent the mission of Webster Bank’s Office of Corporate Responsibility. CT Style Host Natasha Lubczenko was joined in the studio by Marissa Weidner, Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer at Webster Bank, to discuss how they work in the community and why the Office of Corporate Responsibility was created.

Marissa says, “Webster Bank’s been in the community for a very long time, especially right here in Connecticut. But we’ve broadened our footprint. Now we span from Long Island all the way up through Boston and Rhode Island. So that happened as a result of a merger with Sterling National Bank that closed on February 1st of this year. Actually, we’re about to close out the year. So now we’re about a $70 billion organization. So, yes, we’ve grown in size for sure.”

Because Webster Bank grew into such a large organization as they were integrating the two companies, they spent a lot of time considering what they were going to do to set themselves
apart. Marissa explained that The Office of Corporate Responsibility was developed in order to consolidate various components of community engagement. The programs they oversee include the following:

  • The Community Reinvestment Act Program
  • Fair and Responsible Banking Program
  • Supplier Diversity Program
  • Community Investment, Engagement and Philanthropy
  • Government Relations
  • Public Affairs
  • Environmental Sustainability and Governance

Because philanthropy is such an important part of what Webster Bank’s Office of Corporate Responsibility oversees, they have launched a Community Investment Strategy, committing $6.5 billion over three years. There are several ways they are investing in communities, including philanthropy, community development lending, and small business lending – specifically targeting minority and women-owned businesses. Webster Bank is also investing in Finance Labs, watching those with respect to philanthropy and affordable housing investment.

Melissa says, “We’re very excited about our Finance Lab. So we launch those this year and they’re being funded through our Webster Bank Charitable Foundation. We’re investing $100,000 to kick it off. Basically, it’s financial literacy. It’s financial curriculum. It’s financial empowerment. But it’s youth development. It’s youth leadership. And so we’ve done two in New York, and we actually just announced our first one in Connecticut in Bridgeport with the Women, Boys and Girls Club – we’re very excited about it.”

When asked how people in the community can get involved with an amazing resource like the Finance Labs, Melissa’s suggestion is to become involved in the nonprofit organizations that are offering them. She says, “We’re going to invest in the nonprofit partners that can execute on our vision. So our vision is to create economic vitality in the communities that we serve and help people be more financially empowered.”

Marissa says that Investment in the community is something that makes good business sense, and it’s the right thing to do. She adds that when they developed their Community Investment Strategy, they didn’t do it in a vacuum. They met with over 100 nonprofit organizations to hear what their needs are.

She adds, “So if you’re going to invest in your community and sustainability and corporate  responsibility, don’t do it thinking that you know the answers. Reach out to the community partners and find out exactly what they need.”

“The one other thing I want to mention is we also have launched community liaison officers in our communities. So we have community liaison spanning the whole footprint and they’re specifically working with people in our communities to help them be able to finance their first home.”

To learn more about Webster Bank and their many community programs, visit their website at https://public.websteronline.com/about/corporate-responsibility