Between Ourselves: Missy Summers

Missy Summers is a financial planner in Grand Rapids, Mich., who leads Bank of America's employee affinity group for the state.

1) How did you first become involved in BofA's employee group??

A few years ago before I was at Bank of America, Diversity Inc. magazine noted Bank of America's employee affinity group. It really captured my attention that there were places to work that offered those resources. I have always been very active in the LGBT community, and when I joined Bank of America I was thrilled they supported my activity and asked me to co-chair the group.

2) What are the group's goals and objectives?

Our group [promotes] a safe work environment, to attract, develop and retain LGBT employees; and creates opportunities for the bank and its associates to support the community and welcome members of the LGBT community as clients of the bank here in Michigan. 2011 will be our first full year in existence in Michigan and education is key component.

3) How has your involvement in the employee group impacted your work relationships at BofA?

It allowed me to meet and work with people across all lines of business, including my co-chair Stacey Cassis of Merrill Lynch. We work in different areas and on opposite sides of the state and might have never formed such a terrific friendship if it were not for the affinity group. One the best parts of all our affinity groups (which include HOLA, Black Professional Group, Military Support Group, LEAD-Women's Support Group) is our ability to encourage cross bank relationships.

4) BofA has long been one of the leaders in the banking industry in reaching out to the LGBT community. Do you see that happening here in Michigan too?

Absolutely. We are very fortunate to have tremendous support from our leadership team throughout Michigan. Educating the community of our existence and developing long-term relationships is our focus for 2011.

5) How does the LGBT group impact BofA and its management?

Bank of America has a commitment to having a diverse and inclusive environment. The existence of the LGBT group and other affinity groups are a reflection of this commitment. Our affinity groups are leaders in volunteering efforts and community involvement.

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