Jeans Day Fund

Commencement Bank is located on Broadway Plaza in downtown Tacoma. Jill Gill, Relationship Manager at Commencement Bank, explained how long the bank has been in existence and the history, “Almost 5 years. Hal Russell and most of the executive officers have been in banking for over 30 years. And they formed Commencement Bank and to give a presence of a local, strong, community bank with local customer service and local loan processing all done in house.” There are no other bank branches. Jill explained the services Commencement Bank provides, “Banking, business banking, consumer banking, private banking, cash management, CDs, money markets, investments. No car loans or house loans. We have money to lend, 8th most securely capitalized bank in Washington as of today and there’s about 91 banks in Washington. We do loans for husky trucks…No life insurance or car insurance. We offer remote deposit capture so you can get to your money faster and not even come to the bank. You have a little scanner and scan your checks it’ll total it and you hit submit, your check is deposited.”
According to Jill, Commencement Bank has been allowing its employees to wear jeans every Friday since last summer. Jill explained the jeans policy at Commencement Bank, “Like last year, your $5 donation goes into the Jeans Day fund. At the end of every month we will draw a name of a local community organization to donate the funds. If you would like to submit names of organizations to be selected, please get them to me by the end of every month.”
When asked if employees wearing jeans on Friday has improved the work morale and atmosphere, Jill replied, “Absolutely, because it gives us the opportunity to have a casual day which is always fun for employee morale and knowing that we’re raising money for one of our local charities at the same time.” Jill does not believe it will affect the customer’s view of the bank, “I think as long as we do a good job of telling them about the jeans day fund. We get a lot of feedback about our community involvement, our volunteers, our sponsorship money all stays right here in Tacoma. Everything we do down here is done here, even down to the charities that we support.”
“I like it. Our CEO has some strict rules; they [jeans] have to be tailored, nice jeans no holes or fringes…And no sweatshirts, stay in a professional manner, dress shoes,” Jill commented in regards to employees wearing jeans on Friday. When asked if she participated in wearing jeans on Friday, Jill responded, “I do, I like to show support for the bank’s outreach and like I said I purchased a denim jacket and when I have to see clients, I change if needed. I donate $5 for the ability to wear jeans.”
Wendy Cochran, a customer of Commencement Bank, has been a customer since December 2008. When asked whether she knew about the employees wearing jeans on Friday, Wendy replied, “I actually didn’t know that, they’re very approachable and easily accessible. I’ve been to many functions [including the] Heart Association and Celebrity waiter’s auction that the bank has supported. We have become supporters as well.”
Wendy shared what she thought of the jeans dress code, “I think it makes them an approachable bank and promoting and supporting a number of charities that’s one of the motivators behind it makes it more special.” Although she does not know whether it has improved the bank’s work morale and atmosphere, she does not believe it will affect the customer’s view of the bank, “Oh no absolutely not, it makes me appreciate them and small businesses of our own and the charitable organizations in the community…I think it’s fantastic.”
Wendy would wear jeans on Fridays if she worked at Commencement Bank, “Absolutely, in a way wear them with pride you’re putting your 5 bucks into support a good cause. It’s like wearing the “I voted” stickers and put in their $5 for a charity as their sticker.” Wendy continued, “Many businesses do jeans casual Fridays. It’s great that they’ve taken it a step further, made it a benefit for themselves but for their community as well.”
Jim Geppert, Owner of Buy-Rite Carpet, and customer of Commencement Bank for a couple years, shared what he thinks of Commencement Bank employees wearing jeans on Friday, “I think it’s outstanding, anything to make other people’s lives better is great for me. I like charity stuff, so that’s cool. I like jeans [Jim laughs].” When asked if he believed wearing jeans improved the work morale and atmosphere at Commencement Bank, Jim replied, “I think that anything that helps other people improves morale in the workplace. I think giving is a good thing, and if it includes dressing casually, makes it even that much better.”
Jim does not believe employees wearing jeans will affect the customer’s view of the bank, “I think having a dog in the office makes it a better place. We have a dog in our office. Not sure why I’m using that as an analogy. I like casual and I like people being relaxed. It gives it a personal touch, certainly not a boring bank it’s pretty funny maybe that means something.” When asked if Jim would wear jeans on Fridays if he worked at Commencement Bank, he replied, “I would wear because for the charity and for myself just because I’m more relaxed in jeans. Jeans and a t-shirt it’s just me.”
Bryan Lane, has been a customer at Commencement Bank for approximately three years, “I’m all for it, I think they should wear them every day. It’s much more comfortable than being all pretentious.” When asked if he believed wearing jeans improved the work morale and atmosphere, Bryan replied, “Well yeah I think it helps make employees feel a little freedom to do what they want one day of the week. Anything that makes the employee happy and comfortable helps.” Bryan does not believe the customer’s view of the bank will change, “I don’t think it would if they’re [customers] in more frequently they’d notice, if not they’ll just notice hey, they can dress more comfortably.”
When asked if he would wear jeans on Friday if he worked at Commencement Bank, Bryan replied, “Yes, I would I try to get away w/it Mon. through Thurs. comfort for the comfort standpoint and relax a little bit. As long as everyone else is doing it, otherwise you stand out like a sore thumb.” Bryan expressed how he felt about Commencement Bank as a whole, “I’ve enjoyed every interaction with employees there and take great care of us and bend over backwards that’s my favorite thing about them. They don’t keep secrets or surprises at the last moment like a check that bounces and call us next morning so that we can contact customer right away and they don’t wait until statement time.”
Visit Commencement Bank week days from 9 am to 5 pm. “I’ll just say Commencement Bank has really been a really large supporter of various charities and organizations and their activity in house is another example of the caring of the bank administration and the bank’s employees for the community. It’s a team building thing [wearing jeans on Fridays] in their organization, that’s great,” Wendy commented. “They’re a really great bank and take care of their customers and obviously they help other people, too. My quote is, give enough people what they need and you’ll always have what you want and I think that’s how they run their business,” Jim concluded.
by Carly Calabrese, staff

1 thought on “Jeans Day Fund”

  1. This is a really good article. In some ways it brings on a nostalgic feeling from when I was a kid in Kentucky. This bank has the right idea in getting back to the basic grassroots of business and customer service. The old time homey feeling starting out with a simple pair of jeans, friendly smile and hello goes along way. People feel more at ease and comfortable. I believe a lot of people would like to have it the way grandma and grandpa did back in the day with little stress and worry. Seems this bank puts customers first when compaired to bigger banks which can careless. Even the employees enjoy the fun of working there. Keep up the great work and articles. I love reading them and learning about this city.

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