TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson TIAA CEO Roger Ferguson (Peter Foley/Bloomberg)

The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association — the sixth biggest annuity issuer in the United States, in terms of 2019 annuity considerations — says it’s trying to “healing healing and inclusion during this troubled time” by starting a Be The Change outreach program.

Roger Ferguson Jr., TIAA’s president and chief executive officer, said in a message to the company’s clients that the new initiative will help the participants bring their strengths to bear on making things better.

(Related: Life and Health Community Grieves for George Floyd)

Here’s the full text of Ferguson’s message:

To our clients:

Like so many of you, we at TIAA, TIAA Bank and Nuveen are grieving over the recent senseless and tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. We are pained by these innocent lives cut short. Yet we are heartened by the way countless Americans have stepped up peacefully to demand change.

We also recognize that Americans are feeling a wave of emotions at this difficult time — fear, anxiety, anger. We are saddened to see this take the form of violence and looting during peaceful protests in many of our cities. This is not the answer to the important task we face: rooting out racism in our society.

As we contemplate the challenge of these times, we are compelled to affirm TIAA’s longstanding and unwavering commitment to the ideals of a diverse and inclusive society – one in which racism has absolutely no place. TIAA has a long history of actively opposing racism in all its forms, and our resolve is stronger than ever today.

To be sure, our nation has come a long way in addressing the scourge of racism. As someone who started his education at a segregated elementary school, I’ve experienced first-hand the progress we’ve made. Yet the pace has been slower than we’d like, and the long line of tragedies like those we have recently experienced — as well as the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on minority communitiesvunderscore that there’s still much work to do.

TIAA has made diversity and inclusion a cornerstone of our own culture. In doing so, we have aligned ourselves with the values that you, our clients, live on a day-to-day basis through your inspiring work — values that are grounded in the dignity and worth of every human being. To do our part to promote healing and inclusion during this troubled time, we are launching our Be The Change program to uplift our workforce and our communities through dialogue, education, and engagement. We hope our program will help to make a difference in creating the kind of change we all want to see.

The places you work — universities, colleges, hospitals, schools — are leaders in our society in striving to expand diversity and inclusion and bring their strengths to bear for the benefit of all humankind. It’s another way you help to make the world a better place. We are proud to stand with you, and we are committed to continuing to raise our voice, with increased urgency, to push forward toward a more just and equal society.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr. TIAA President and CEO

In related news, two other life and annuity organizations, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and the Insured Retirement Institute, have put out responses to the crisis.

Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker’s message

I spent a good deal of time reflecting on current events over the weekend. I thought about our Nationwide values, how valuing people is intentionally at the top of the list. I thought about our caring culture and how proud I am of the strides we’ve made in cultivating a diverse and inclusive work environment. I also thought about the journey ahead, and how it’s imperative that we continue to make progress — both within Nationwide and outside our walls.

The past week has been filled with significant emotion We are saddened, angry and concerned by the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and we send our deepest condolences to his family for their loss. We’re alarmed about the destruction in our communities. We are struggling to make sense of everything and determine what we can do to be a force for good and affect change.

The images we have seen shed a light on the opportunities before us. This is why I have signed a letter in support of a resolution before the Columbus City Council which would declare racism to be a Public Health Crisis.

Additionally, my leadership team and I are taking time to sit down and listen to our associates in the midst of these events. Now more than ever, we need to listen. And not just listen to hear, but listen to understand. Only when we take the time to understand and appreciate the unique points of view of others can we make meaningful change.

Our company has prided itself in building a culture based on diversity and inclusion. While I admit I’ll never fully understand what it is like to be a person of color, I know right from wrong. And I know that if any part of my team is impacted, it impacts us all. At its heart, that’s what our “On Your Side” slogan means. It means holding one another accountable when we see injustice. And it means listening to one another–not just to hear or be heard, but to understand and be understood.

In the coming days, I encourage each of us to step outside of our comfort zones, seek to understand, engage in productive conversations and hold ourselves accountable for being part of the solution.

We must forever stamp out racism and discrimination.

The IRI statement

To Secure Our Future, We Must Address and Change Our Present

The Insured Retirement Institute grieves with our nation, with the Minneapolis community and with the family of George Floyd. We are immensely saddened and struggling to comprehend this terrible injustice.

We cannot forget him or the tragically long list of Black Americans who have unjustly lost their lives or been denied even the most basic human rights solely because of the color of their skin. If we do, tragedy will continue to repeat itself.

IRI and our members and employees are committed to solutions that help people secure their long-term financial well-being. But communities and the people in them are hindered from pursuing that financial security when deprived of justice, dignity, and understanding. To secure our future, we must address and change our present.

IRI has always approached matters of public policy through a belief in constructive engagement with all stakeholders. As such, we stand with and are in strong agreement with the words of Representative John Lewis, who issued a powerful statement on the events of the past week that included the following:

“Our work won’t be easy — nothing worth having ever is — but I strongly believe, as Dr. King once said, that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.”

As an industry and as an association, we are committed to an empowered, diverse workforce and to serving and treating all people equally with dignity and compassion. We must and will examine ourselves and our industry so we can serve as an example to others. We must and will address injustices where we can. And we are dedicated to working together to understand each other and to build better relationships, better communities and a better nation for all of us today and for the tomorrows to come.

— Read How the First Black CFP Built His Practiceon ThinkAdvisor.

— Connect with ThinkAdvisor Life/Health on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.