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AFSA Celebrates Black History Month | Virnitia Hendricks

AFSA Celebrates Black History Month | Virnitia Hendricks

For Black History Month AFSA is celebrating the efforts and accomplishments of AFSA member company colleagues working in the consumer credit and financial services industries.


Virnitia Hendricks
Executive Vice President, Chief Diversity Officer

How have your life experiences as a Black American shaped the person you are today?
As a Black American, I think it’s important to honor my heritage and encourage others to be their true authentic selves. Being the “only” in certain circumstances gives me the opportunity to show who I am and what I’m capable of. It is a privilege that I take seriously. My experience growing up on a military base in Fort Gordon, Georgia, really shaped my view of people and different cultures. I was blessed to grow up with people from many different backgrounds, so I learned cultural curiosity at a very young age. I’ve taken that with me throughout my life and career. A part of what I hope my legacy will be is to help other people build that same sense of cultural curiosity. By being curious we can learn what we have in common and build the human connections we need to bring about positive societal changes.

How have they affected your approach to working in the consumer credit or broader financial services industries?
One of the biggest focus areas in the financial services industry is to help build financial empowerment. Financial inclusion and empowerment are critical, especially to those in underserved communities. Focusing on financial empowerment allows us to go beyond the topics of race, ethnicity, and gender and to address socio-economic challenges as well. Within the financial services industry, we have an obligation to leverage our resources and expertise to help people become more financially empowered, helping future generations prosper and build wealth. We have to move beyond just what is required from a regulatory perspective, and as an industry, stay committed to making advancements in financial inclusion. According to Bloomberg, Black Americans have shrunk the US wealth gap, but still have 70% less than other groups in net worth. Positive progress has been made, but there’s still an opportunity to bridge the divide and build financial equity, not only for Black Americans but for anyone who needs access to resources, education, and the human dignity that financial empowerment can bring. Source.

What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month affords an opportunity to learn more about the diverse people who proudly consider themselves Black Americans and to embrace our rich cultures and backgrounds. It’s a time to celebrate the heritage and contributions that my ancestors and many others have made. It’s an acknowledgment of the sacrifices and innovations that were made to make my journey possible. I’m proud and honored to stand on their shoulders as we look forward to all the possibilities of what’s to come.

February 21st, 2023

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