Forging the Path for Equity, Prominence, and Financial Enfranchisement in the LGBTQ2+ Community!
The financial world is a complex and often daunting landscape to navigate, but imagine facing those challenges while carrying the added weight of belonging to the LGBTQ2+ community. Financial well-being should be a universal right, regardless of one’s background or identity, and few understand this better than Steven Garibell, the Vice President of Community Business Development Strategy at TD Bank.
With a career spanning consumer and commercial financial services, Steven has dedicated years to understanding the intricacies of the financial world. But it’s not just his professional background that sets him apart. His passion for advocating LGBTQ2+ rights and his involvement with organizations dedicated to these causes have given him unique insights into the financial disparities that this community often faces.
For Steven, this isn’t just a job; it’s a calling. He firmly believes that everyone should have equal access to the resources they need to achieve financial success. His career, which has seen him founding and running businesses, coupled with his work in the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) and DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) spaces, has equipped him with the tools to make a tangible difference.
Steven is not just a financial professional; he’s a champion for change. He’s working tirelessly to ensure that the LGBTQ2+ community and everyone, for that matter, can pave their path to financial prosperity. In an industry that often overlooks the marginalized, he’s a beacon of hope, leading the way to a more inclusive and equitable financial future for all.
Below are the interview highlights:
Could you please brief about TD Bank and its inception story?
TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, has provided unparalleled convenience and legendary service for more than 150 years. The company first opened its doors as Portland Savings Bank in Portland, Maine, in 1852 and evolved through the years to become TD Banknorth in 2007. Looking to expand in the U.S., TD Bank Group acquired Commerce Bank (based in New Jersey) in 2008, and the company rebranded as TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank. TD Bank North locations followed suit, and the two companies united as TD Bank. Then, in 2010, The South Financial Group, Inc., was acquired by TD Bank Group, greatly increasing store locations in the Southeast.
Today, TD Bank serves more than 10 million customers with a full range of retail, wealth, small business, and commercial banking products and services at approximately 1,100 locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Carolinas, and Florida.
How has your experience at TD Bank for over ten years prepared you for your current position?
Over the last 10 years, I have built my brand with internal stakeholders and helped educate colleagues on the needs of the LGBTQ community. Building a large internal network of partners has enabled me to bring a “One TD” approach to supporting the LGBTQ community, meaning that we provide customers with a holistic look at their financial needs and services.
What are some of the ways in which you cultivate relationships in the LGBTQ+ community to improve a client’s financial position through TD Bank’s various networks?
There are so many ways to cultivate relationships in the LGBTQ community that help improve a client’s financial position. I like to think of myself as a trusted voice in the community, having conversations with individuals, business owners, or not-for-profit leaders to identify their goals. From there, I see how TD can help, and if there are introductions, I can make them to external organizations that can help with reaching these goals.
We are all allies with each other, and by working together, we can make an economic impact. Examples of this are developing programs like a Business Incubator for Trans and Gender Expansive Individuals, working with an LGBTQ seniors organization to create financial education programs, or meeting with entrepreneurs to connect them with LGBTQ-friendly technical assistance providers to help accelerate the growth of their business.
As a Financial Literacy advocate, can you share some of the classes or workshops you facilitate to promote financial well-being?
I like to call the classes we do financial empowerment sessions. These sessions help attendees gain skills to help begin to take hold of their financial future and include all the intersections of the community, whether classes to help small business owners, students of all ages, or seniors. My favorite sessions are about planning, especially building a business plan for a business owner.
What does it mean to you to be recognized on multiple platforms as an influential figure in the LGBTQ+ community?
Visibility is important to the LGBTQ community. Growing up, I did not have many visible role models. I tell my colleagues that being able to live openly brings a responsibility to help individuals who are not as comfortable being open about their lives. It’s kind of a conundrum because I am very shy with recognition, but I have learned that being recognized provides me with a platform to bring visibility to the inequities in the LGBTQ2+ community and what else is needed to help bring equity to all intersections of the LGBTQ population.
Can you elaborate on the specific initiatives or projects that led to your recognition?
My recognition all began with the work that I did in creating and building my role as the first LGBTQ2+ Business Development Officer at TD Bank and the first such position at any financial institution in the U.S. From there, I have been able to work with the public, private, and non-profit sectors to build programs in NYC and nationally, such as small business incubators, business certification seminars, and career sessions for LGBTQ youth.
Apart from your role at TD Bank, how do you contribute to the New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce as a Board President?
In my role as the Board President for the NJ Pride Chamber, I work with a team to develop strategies and programs to help business owners build sustainable practices and bring economic empowerment to LGBTQ entrepreneurs in New Jersey. We support legislation, connect members to programs, and help promote intersectional connections with our members and the greater community in the state.
As Chair of the Certification Committee at The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), can you share some of the responsibilities and initiatives you are involved in?
Certification is important to bringing economic equity to business owners; it gives an LGBTQ business owner a seat at the table and levels the playing field for contracting programs. We are a volunteer group for the National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce that donates our time and knowledge to help provide certifications and increase the number of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the U.S. I have been part of the committee for six years and took on the role of committee Chair in 2022.
How do you see the future of LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in the business world, and what role do you think organizations like TD Bank play in creating that future?
As the Gen Z and Millennial populations come into the working world, we will see more and more LGBTQ business owners. These generations have the largest percentage of individuals who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. I believe that TD will continue to be a leader in supporting equity for its LGBTQ2+ customers, colleagues, and communities and continuing to evolve programs that support our ever-growing intersectional community.
What advice would you give to aspiring LGBTQ+ professionals who want to make an impact in their respective industries?
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely venture, but it doesn’t have to be. Build a team, join a local chamber of commerce and a diverse chamber of commerce, and take advantage of any skill-building program out there. Remember, by being a successful LGBTQ entrepreneur, you help to bring economic equity to the community and are opening doors for others to follow in your footsteps.
Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.
I can connect you with Sean Coleman, Founder and Executive Director of Destination Tomorrow, Paul Nagel, Executive Director of Stonewall Community Development Corporation, or Charles Hughes, Founder of Lambda Lounge and Club Lambda, to give testimonials. We have done articles with them on TD Stories.