–By Ellen Forman for BizNews
In the summer of 2020, BankUnited launched its iCARETM program. The mission of iCARETM, which stands for Inclusive Community of Advocacy, Respect and Equality, is to create a safe, diverse and inclusive workplace where individuals are valued for their talents, feel free to express themselves and are empowered to achieve their fullest potential.
Through the iCARETM program, BankUnited has committed nearly half a million dollars to supporting diversity and inclusion at FIU Business, including a scholarship, internships, mentoring, and engagement in equity and justice initiatives.
The bank’s recent gift, to be distributed over a five-year period, will support two programs designed to promote workforce diversity and achievement as part of its new iCARETM initiative, also underway with two other colleges in Florida. The gift will create full-tuition scholarships established as the BankUnited iCARETM Business Scholarship Fund. FIU Business juniors and seniors are eligible for the scholarship, which will be awarded annually based on academic performance or potential, and financial need. A preference will be given to students who have demonstrated experience in or a commitment to working with racial and ethnic minorities.
Eric Hibbert, an executive vice president at BankUnited who leads the iCARETM program, noted that the scholarship’s minimum GPA requirement of 2.5 is designed to promote inclusion of students who have both academic achievement and academic potential, and will come with mentorship and hopefully provide opportunities otherwise not readily available.
“We want to find students who may have taken a longer or harder road to get here, but have shown inspirational resilience and need financial assistance and mentorship to affirm their journey,” Hibbert said. “It’s part of a larger effort to bring greater opportunity and diversity into the workforce. We may not be able to tackle everything, but we believe we can make a difference through initiatives like these,” he said.
“When thinking about talent management, we spend a significant amount of time thinking about how to effectively recruit and retain young banking professionals,” Hibbert said. “We can choose to recruit from other companies’ employees, or we can take students who are teachable and driven, as early as their junior year in undergraduate studies, and groom them to be the next generation of banking leaders.”
The iCARETM program has also brought BankUnited executives and employees into virtual dialogues with FIU Business students, enabling them to share their personal thoughts, questions, insights and experiences about diversity, equity and inclusion within their career and leadership journey.
“BankUnited and its leadership team are true partners in our mission and vision at FIU Business,” said Joanne Li, dean of the college. “We are honored to be selected for the iCARETM program, which brings vital financial help and critically important mentorship opportunities to our diverse, hard-working students. This is a program that articulates our shared purpose of changing lives.”