Eliza Baral: US Bank on quest to bring more opportunities to the Latino Community
Story By: Joe Dyton
Elisa Baral enjoys her work as an audit project manager with the Corporate Audit Services Department at U.S. Bank, but her duties only tell part of the story of why she likes coming to work every day.
Yes, Baral enjoys tackling different audits and the unique challenges each one brings. However, she also gains work fulfillment in her other role at the bank: as vice president of the company’s Nosotros Latinos business resource group. Nosotros Latinos, which launched in 2016, plays a crucial role in raising awareness of U.S. Bank’s Latino-focused strategies inside and outside of the company.
“The Latino strategy and approach at U.S. Bank is constantly evolving to match the needs of the market,” Baral said. “We are in the process of expanding our Latino customer experience outreach to build awareness of our services.”
U.S. Bank’s recognition of how quickly Latino population is growing in the country is one reason it has launched a number of Latino-focused strategies. The Latino demographic is currently the largest minority group in the U.S. and still expanding and U.S. Bank wants to build a firm foundation of engagement and trust with Latinos across its footprint.
“We want to engage with them to be part of the community and service all their needs,” Baral said. “That means being a trusted partner to help Latinos take charge of their future through financial education and advice, buying a car, starting a business or expanding an existing business.”
U.S. Bank’s Latino outreach isn’t just about increasing its customer base. It wants to diversify its workforce, too. Baral works in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota, where the amount of Latinos in high-end leadership positions has been historically low, although that is beginning to change.
The turnaround can be attributed to organizations like the Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting (ALPFA). Baral joined the organization’s Twin Cities chapter board in 2012 and helped with its re-launch. Meanwhile, U.S. Bank sponsored both the chapter and was a national sponsor of its annual convention in 2015. Like U.S. Bank, ALPFA is committed to developing and advancing Latino leaders. The company leans on organizations like ALPFA to help build a pipeline of Latino talent.
“From my perspective as a Latino professional, corporations understand the need to be able to diversify their workforce to emulate the communities in which they operate,” Baral said. “U.S Bank recognizes the importance of attracting and retaining Latino talent in order to better serve the needs of the communities in which we operate so that we can better understand and serve our current and prospective customers.”
The company has reached out to other Latino-focused organizations like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and made them aware of specific openings it’s recruiting for in an effort to attract and retain top Hispanic talent. It has also added depth to its talent pool by enhancing its summer internship with a focus on minorities. The Nosotros Latinos members also refer employees to the company.
“They offer the best first-person evidence of our welcoming environment on bringing your whole self to work,” Baral said.
The ALPFA members at U.S bank have helped enrich the company’s corporate culture in a big way, according to Baral.
Several of the Nosotros Latinos board members also belong to ALPFA and they bring unique perspectives and leadership experiences to U.S. Bank, which in turn has helped the business resource group become a success. ALPFA members have also served as advisors to the bank on issues like marketing and customer experience and are active volunteers with a number of Hispanic community groups within the bank’s footprint.
Between her work in the Corporate Audit Services Department, sitting on the Nosotros Latinos board and working with ALPFA, Baral keeps busy. It’s worth it to her though, as she’s not just building a career for herself, she’s helping others, too.
“Since joining U.S. Bank, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to many areas of the business, which has allowed me to better understand the industry,” she said. “My goal is to continue to learn about the different business lines in the organization and use that understanding to create bridges within the company. Thanks to Nosotros Latinos, I have also gained insight into our diversity and inclusion approach and have created meaningful relationships throughout the bank and the community.”