Community Responsibility


A core mission of the Company’s employees, executive leadership and Directors is active engagement with not only the Company’s customers, but the civic institutions, non-profits, schools and other organizations that comprise the communities where we live and work. As a community bank, we are committed to supporting volunteerism, implementing environmentally sound practices, working with small businesses, and serving the broad financial service needs of the communities in our geographic markets. In addition, we recognize that the development and support of the Company’s human capital is an essential element of the Company’s success. We are focused on furthering our Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) strategy in alignment with our business and evolution of important topics across the banking industry. In February 2023, we engaged a third-party advisory firm to assist the Company with its continued focus on its ESG strategy. 

Recent highlights of the Company’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, support of our communities and employees and other ESG priorities include:

ESG Highlights

Human Capital Initiatives

 In 2022, the Company appointed Monticia Prather as its first Culture and Diversity Officer. Ms. Prather is responsible for leading the Company’s culture, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts and has built upon the current efforts and brought increased focus for future initiatives, including working with the Company’s Culture and Diversity Council and its ambassadors to identify and lead new initiatives to promote an inclusive workplace and in 2023 developing a Culture and Diversity framework to further progress the Company’s efforts.

• The Company implemented the “MyVoice” program, a Company-wide program to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement as well as the promotion of the Company’s core values in our workforce. The goal of MyVoice is to foster a culture of open communication and feedback to enhance our employee experience making Community Bank a best place to work.

• In 2022, the Company’s Culture and Diversity Council (formed in 2020) continued its oversight of initiatives focused on: diversity and equity across areas of talent acquisition and retention, employee community service spotlights, senior leadership composition, unconscious bias awareness and vendor selection process. The Council engages our workforce in advancing diversity initiatives and identifying future initiatives.

• The Company developed future leaders through our Vital Leadership program to strengthen our succession and leadership capabilities with over 125 leaders participating in the program in 2022.

Supporting our Communities

• Offered special purpose credit product to enable underrepresented communities, including borrowers in minority and low-to-moderate income areas in Rochester, New York to obtain residential mortgages on favorable terms. In 2023, the Bank will again offer this program in Rochester, New York as well as similar programs in Buffalo, New York and Syracuse, New York.

 In 2022, the Company donated over $2.97 million to over 860 charitable organizations in the Company’s footprint.

 Our employees volunteered over 11,500 hours of their time to over 570 non-profit organizations in 2022, including those dedicated to underserved and disadvantaged communities.

• The Company enhanced its vendor management program to expand the pool of vendors who are minority owned enterprises or have a history of creating opportunities for minorities, disadvantaged individuals or Veterans, or otherwise address the needs of underserved populations or communities. The Company has joined Upstate Minority Economic Alliance, the only Minority Chamber of Commerce in the Upstate New York Region, in order to leverage partnerships to expand the pool of diverse vendors.

• The Bank offers financial literacy programs geared towards students and adults, including programs offered in elementary and high schools and, in collaboration with our community partners, programs focused on adults in lower and middle income communities.

• We continue to expand our digital banking services to include powerful, flexible and easy to use technology, including the recent addition of a person to person payment system, in order to enhance the digital banking services provided to our customers.

Environmental Sustainability Initiative

• Engaged an outside advisor to assist management in identifying ESG priorities and initiatives in order to support a healthier, more sustainable future for our stakeholders including our investors, employees, communities we serve, and customers.

• Exploring ways to reduce the Company’s environmental impact, including engaging a third party consultant to help assess and execute the Company’s strategy to migrate its data to secure, cloud based solutions which helps reduce energy consumption at its data centers. The Company’s Technology Committee, on which Mr. Knauss serves as a liaison to the Board, has been providing oversight on this initiative.

• Implemented internal digital workflow procedures to reduce the use of paper across the Bank’s operations.

Environmental, Social and Governance

In 2023, we are focused on continuing to build upon our strategy and initiatives with respect to Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) topics. We recognize the continuing importance of these matters and will continue to align our business strategies with these goals. We understand that a thoughtful, coordinated approach to ESG will support a healthier, more sustainable future for our stakeholders including our investors, employees, communities we serve, and customers. We expect to build upon our core values as a community financial institution and our core mission of serving the financial needs of our communities. We expect our developing ESG strategy will align with the nature and scale of our business in respecting the environment and the evolution of ESG principles in our industry. In February 2023, we engaged a third-party advisory firm to assist the Company with its continued focus on its ESG strategy.

Some of our specific efforts and commitments for 2022 and 2023 are summarized below.


We recognize that our people are essential to our success and are committed to supporting the development and well-being of each individual in a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Commitment to Our Core Values. In 2022, the Company refreshed its set of core values to guide our employees and exemplify our commitment to each other, our customers, our Shareholders, and the communities we serve:

These core values were developed by our senior management team and are based upon the Company’s focus on people – our customers, our communities, our Shareholders and each other, and that this focus on people is the driving source of our strength and success. The Company, including senior management, consistently communicate and reinforce these values. The Company’s core values serve as the foundation that supports and drives the ESG initiatives set forth below.

Role of Our Diversity Council. We are committed to having an inclusive environment for the Company’s workforce that enhances the culture of shared identity, civility, dignity, and respect. In 2020, the Company formed a Diversity Council (now expanded in scope and renamed Culture and Diversity Council) to provide strategic direction and an employee forum for diversity and inclusion initiatives. The Council comprises 25 employees; an additional 100 employees from various business units and geographic locations serve as Ambassadors. Together they serve as representatives of our 2,900 plus employees to foster a culture of valuing diversity and inclusion through the development of ongoing Council initiatives. The Culture and Diversity Council has developed a set of initiatives to increase focus on: diversity and equity across the key areas of talent acquisition and retention; employee community service spotlights; senior leadership composition; a collaborative learning and development campaign centered on greater awareness of unconscious bias; and vendor selection development and monitoring. The Council also organizes a calendar of monthly events to celebrate and remember significant events in our country’s history, such as Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, Pride Month, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Native American History Month, Women’s History Month, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Autism Awareness Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month, in order to provide greater awareness and celebrate the diversity of our employees. Although sponsored by the CEO and supported by a liaison from the Board, the Council is led by employees from across the Company in order to be more responsive to the issues and concerns identified by our employees.

Watch the video above to hear more about our Culture and Diversity Council from Maureen Gillan-Myer, EVP Chief Human Resources Officer of the Company and Freddie Jacobs, NRS, Chief Operating Officer of Northeast Retirement Services, LLC, the Company's subsidiary.

Click here to see more about our Culture and Diversity Council and its current initiatives.

Appointment of Cultural and Diversity Officer. In 2022, the Company enhanced its commitment to diversity by appointing Ms. Prather as the Company’s first Culture and Diversity Officer to lead the Company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Ms. Prather has a central role in creating, managing, and optimizing our efforts related to making the workplace a fairer, more-equitable environment for all employees. The Culture and Diversity Officer also leads and coordinates key aspects of our overall ESG strategy, including our focus on expanding our pool of potential employees to include more diverse candidates through our relationship with minority chambers of commerce and related groups, including Circa Works who supports organizations in building high performing diverse teams.

Alignment of Management Incentive Objectives with Goals. The Compensation Committee is responsible for the oversight of the Company’s human capital management, including regular review of the Company’s management resources, diversity and inclusion policies, succession planning, and talent development programs. In order to demonstrate the Board’s commitment to achieving the Company’s culture and diversity goals, the Compensation Committee, in reviewing the Company’s human capital management programs and management’s objectives for 2022, included a specific performance objective in the 2022 Management Incentive Plan tied to increasing employee engagement and cultivating a dynamic and inclusive workforce with the use of the data derived from the 2021 engagement survey as a foundation to the establishment of an engagement program in 2022. In 2023, the Company again included a performance objective in the Management Incentive Plan tied to the acceleration of manager engagement and accountability.

Commitment to Employee Engagement – Implementing “MyVoice Program”. The Company is committed to creating a top tier workplace filled with highly satisfied and engaged employees. The Company believes that open and honest communication among employees, managers and executive leadership fosters an open and collaborative work environment where everyone can participate, develop and thrive. In November 2021, the Company launched a Company-wide engagement program called “MyVoice” which was initiated with an engagement survey to gauge employee sentiment in areas such as culture, career development, manager performance and inclusivity, with 83% of the Company’s employees participating in the initial survey. The collective results from the survey highlighted that engagement, performance, and employee development are interlinked and interdependent. In 2022, the Company supported managers with tools and resources to build action plans for enhanced engagement with their teams. These action plans are created at the local and department level by having frequent, meaningful conversations with individuals on their teams to identify and then take ownership of improving the workplace experience for their team. A check-in survey was launched in October 2022 and results will help measure the Company’s engagement year-over-year and will inform its next steps on the continued journey to enhance engagement and make the Company a great place to work.

Commitment to Fair Play. The Company’s compensation philosophy includes elements that reinforce our values, rewards our colleagues and maximizes long term performance. We employ various governance tactics to ensure our colleagues are paid fairly based on the job that they hold and their performance in that role. We have made considerable investments over the last three years, including raising our starting minimum pay rates. We conduct workforce planning sessions across all our business areas to ensure market competitive pay and staff development actions that support our commitment to the development of our employees.

Commitment to Talent Management and Employee Development. The Company is committed to enabling a culture that celebrates talent sharing, career development and agility across the Company and generally posts all roles internally first before sharing them externally. The Company offers programs designed to develop each individual’s talents in an open and productive work place to develop its next generation of leaders. The Company utilizes a sophisticated Human Resources operating system which includes several features to support talent development, enhanced performance management tools, and other features that provide a more streamlined employee experience.

The Company’s Human Resources function oversees and facilitates corporate-wide in-house and external leadership and professional development programs to provide various offerings that drive efforts toward a cohesive, evolving and diverse workforce. The focus is to bring self-awareness regarding biases and to drive behavioral change to build positive working relationships. Various programs, workshops and initiatives address key elements promoting inclusion, cultural diversity, gender equality, women leadership and development, and a multi-generational workforce. The Human Resources function utilizes a dynamic online learning platform, in conjunction with in person learning, that is available to all employees at its various geographical locations to deliver interactive educational and training modules. These educational modules, which are required for all employees, include training on diversity and inclusion, awareness of biases, anti-discrimination, and compliance. In addition, the system provides a vast library of industry-specific and development courseware to promote a learning culture and development of each individual’s potential. The Company also works to continue to broaden the scope of its talent development initiatives across our widening geographically diverse footprint in order to sustain a value-driven and growth-oriented environment where employees can perform at their peak and the next generation of leaders are prepared to lead. The Company’s Human Resources function offers a variety of programs and continuing education dedicated to strengthening employee engagement, personal accountability, productivity, and emotional, physical and financial well-being. These educational programs are offered through an online wellness platform called Linked to Wellbeing and through financial planning education sessions scheduled with financial planning professionals.

Click here to see more information about our “Work Happy” Mission and our commitment to our employees by providing the highest level of employee support, whether through our benefits, our professional development or our challenging but rewarding professional experiences.


We continue to look for opportunities to integrate sustainability and corporate responsibility into our business practices as we develop our ESG strategy to focus on delivering community focused products and services while creating long-term sustainable value for all of our stakeholders. Set forth below are some of the environmental and social initiatives we focused on in 2022 and early 2023:

Focus on Vendor Policies and Sustainable Business Operations. The Company holds itself to a standard of integrity, professional conduct, and environmentally responsible business practices. This allows us to establish trust with our employees, customers, stakeholders, and vendors. We expect the same level of commitment and conduct of our vendors as we focus on ensuring that we are operating in a socially responsible manner. The Company has implemented a policy as part of its vendor management program to increase the pool of vendors who are minority owned or have a history of creating opportunities for minority, disadvantaged individuals or Veterans, or otherwise address the needs of underserved populations or communities. This effort is led by our new Culture and Diversity Officer. As part of this effort, the Company has joined Upstate Minority Economic Alliance, the only Minority Chamber of Commerce in the Upstate New York Region, in order to leverage partnerships to expand the pool of diverse vendors.

Our vendor management policy has provisions that appropriately respond to vendors where we identify that their practices do not align with our principles regarding operating in a socially responsible manner, including fair labor standards, acting responsibly with the security and confidentiality of our customer information, engaging in environmentally responsible business practices and acting consistently with our codes of conduct and ethical behavior.

Commitment to Helping Others. We remain committed to strengthening the communities we serve through employee volunteerism and corporate engagement and support with a focus on serving those who are underserved in the local communities where we do business. We do this through financial support, in-kind donations, community engagement, and volunteer service. The Company made over $2.97 million in donations, grants and sponsorships in the Bank’s footprint of Upstate New York, Northeast Pennsylvania, Vermont and Western Massachusetts in 2022. During 2022, our employees gave generously of their time and expertise by donating over 11,500 volunteer hours. They actively participated in over 570 causes and organizations, often by serving on the boards of leading community charities and organizations and supporting these organization in other ways.

In addition to volunteerism, the Bank offers programs that supports its customers and neighbors. For example, in response to various natural disasters that impact our communities, the Bank from time to time offers disaster relief programs to assist customers with repairing property, cleaning up, and getting back on their feet.

Click here to see more information about our Community Involvement initiatives and our most recent Community Report.

Commitment to Community-Focused Mortgage Banking. For more than 150 years, the Bank has focused on serving the financial needs of its customers. The Bank offers several lending programs sponsored by state and federal agencies designed to encourage first time home ownership, affordable home mortgages for those in lower and moderate-income groups, and mortgages for those living in rural areas that would not be eligible for traditional mortgage products. The Bank has expanded its mortgage marketing efforts to those who live in economically disadvantaged areas. In addition, the Bank offers a “No Closing Cost” mortgage product that facilitates the ability of borrowers to attain home ownership with a product that provides for the Bank to absorb mortgage related closing costs, such as filing fees, bank legal fees, appraisal, application, and underwriting/processing fees, provided that the borrower does not prepay the mortgage within three years of the closing. In 2022, with its acquisition of Elmira, the Bank expanded its portfolio of community development lending products to offer Federal Housing Administration and Veteran Administration mortgages to create a broader pool of borrowers and help make home ownership possible for borrowers who may not qualify for traditional mortgages.

The Bank has implemented a digital mortgage pre-qualification and application program that has been utilized by 29% of new applicants. This digital program has enabled the Bank to reach a broader and potentially more diverse group of qualified borrowers.

Commitment to Underrepresented Communities and Low and Moderate Income Households. In 2022, the Bank launched a new special purpose credit product to underrepresented communities, including borrowers in minority and low-to-moderate income areas in Rochester, New York to obtain residential mortgages on favorable terms and in 2023 the Bank will again offer this program in Rochester, New York as well as similar programs in Buffalo, New York and Syracuse, New York. In addition to its own residential mortgage loan originations, the Company also funded $39.15 million of new loans to low and moderate income borrowers throughout its market area through the purchase of mortgage-backed securities designed to reinvest the Company’s monies into the market areas it serves.

Commitment to Supporting Local Businesses. The Bank’s staff of consumer and commercial lending professionals are dedicated to servicing those living in under-served markets within the Bank’s footprint with the goal of promoting financial literacy and access to financial services and products. The Bank has recently expanded its Business Banking group to offer a greater portfolio of services. Because small businesses are engines for our local economies by keeping money close to home and supporting neighborhoods and communities, the Bank also works with government agencies to offer lending programs to small businesses and agricultural loan products. The Bank has financed community development projects that help enrich and revitalize the communities where it operates, including financing for health care facilities, solar energy companies, farming operations, addiction counseling services, places of worship, ambulance companies, and community theaters. The goal of all of these efforts is to provide support and opportunities to cultivate robust communities for the Company’s customers, employees, and stakeholders. In addition, the Bank has joined the Upstate Minority Economic Alliance which will further cultivate the Bank’s relationship with minority owned small businesses and provide better access to financial services and products for such businesses.

Protecting our Customers’ Data. We are committed to providing a high level of customer care including measures to safeguard our customers’ data. The Board’s Risk Committee is responsible for the oversight of the Company’s cybersecurity program. The Company’s employees and business partners continually look for ways to provide the Company’s clients with enhanced product offerings while maintaining its cyber and information security controls to protect the Bank’s data, applications and networks. The Company has invested significant resources to address cybersecurity matters and partners with leading technology companies to identify solutions to meet the fast-evolving threat landscape. We believe it is important for all employees to have an understanding of the risks and regulations for security and cyber activities and require employees to participate in on-going training programs on this topic, including tabletop exercises, annual mandatory training sessions on cybersecurity for all employees, periodic informational notices regarding emerging threats, and periodic testing to ensure employees are reporting suspicious activities and are diligent in their efforts to avoid phishing attacks and cybersecurity breaches.

Ethical Business Practices and Balancing Business Risk. Our Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct make clear our expectation for the conduct of our Directors, officers and employees. We ensure compliance with these Codes through training and monitoring so that we can maintain our track record of business success based upon the highest level of ethics and professionalism. Our banking employees are required to complete online training and testing to verify their understanding of the legal requirements, including training on unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices, fair lending, and anti-money laundering.

We also carefully monitor Enterprise Risk Management areas through our risk management team with Board oversight over the various areas of our business. We encourage active engagement among the different areas within the Company responsible for our risk management oversight. Through our risk management process and oversight by various Board committees, our governance structure ensures that appropriate information gathering and monitoring is in place to oversee the Company’s risks.

Environmental Initiatives. The Company supports environmental and sustainability objectives by encouraging recycling and responsible waste management practices, and energy conservation throughout the organization. We continue to evaluate opportunities to reduce energy consumption in areas such as facilities, equipment, and operations by moving to more efficient equipment, HVAC systems, lighting and use of technology solutions to reduce our energy usage. We recycle all of our electronics through appropriate channels to ensure that harmful substances do not pollute the environment. We continue to migrate our data to additional secure, cloud based solutions which minimize the energy use at our data and disaster recovery centers.

The Company has an ongoing initiative to eliminate paper from its work streams and move to completely digital documentation in its business activities where possible. The Bank provides and encourages the use of digital banking and e-statements to its customers, has expanded the use of online platforms for account opening, lending products, communications, remote deposit capture, and various statements and notices, as well as the use of digital workflow and robotic process automation technologies in its internal operating and administrative systems. In 2022, the Bank saw an 18.5% increase in customers using its online banking platform.

The Company is committed to transitioning to fully digital processes for certain business operations, and the Bank has migrated its mortgage documentation work stream to a fully digital documentation and storage process which significantly reduced the amount of paper used by the Bank. The Bank is committed to expanding its digital documentation initiative and adding new digital platforms to preserve natural resources and streamline its business processes.


We are committed to strong corporate governance policies, practices, and procedures designed to make the Board more effective in exercising its oversight role. The following section provides an overview of the Company’s corporate governance structure, including key governance documents that guide the Board and management in the performance of their duties which are regularly reviewed by the Board.

Click here to see our Annual Proxy Statement for more information about our corporate policies, practices, and procedures.

Governance Highlights. The Board is committed to sound and effective corporate governance that conforms to the highest standards of business ethics and integrity, provides robust oversight of management and promotes the long-term interests of our Shareholders. The Board regularly reviews the Company’s governance practices, industry developments, and Shareholder feedback to ensure continued effectiveness. For more information regarding our corporate governance practices, see the disclosure starting on page 25 of the Proxy.

Best Practices. The Board and management regularly review best practices in corporate governance and are committed to a structure that fosters principled actions, informed and effective decision-making, and appropriate monitoring of risk, compliance, and performance. The Governance Committee is responsible for the review and oversight of the Company’s corporate governance practices and is responsible for updating the Board on best corporate governance practices.

The Company is dedicated to being a financial industry leader in corporate governance and business ethics. The Board is composed of independent Directors, other than the CEO, with diverse backgrounds who bring a wealth of knowledge and business experience to the Company. The Company has significantly increased the Board’s ethnic and gender diversity and the level of identified skill sets over the last four years. We will continue to consider a diverse pool of candidates in our Director nomination process to further enhance the diversity on the Board and add appropriate skills and experience in connection with succession planning at the Board level.

From the top down, the Company is committed to fostering an effective risk management environment to serve the interests of the Company, its customers, and its Shareholders. The Board has adopted the Code of Ethics and the Code of Conduct to make clear its expectation for the conduct of our Directors, officers and employees. The Company ensures compliance with these Codes through training and monitoring so that the Company can maintain its track record of business success based upon the highest level of ethics and professionalism.

Board Composition and Refreshment.
 The Directors strive to maintain a highly engaged Board with balanced tenure and substantive expertise that has the diversity of skills and backgrounds necessary to effectively oversee the Company’s management team and serve the long-term interests of the Company’s Shareholders.

Over the course of the last four years, the Board has added three new Directors to enhance the skills and gender and ethnic diversity of the Board. In December 2021, the Board added Jeffery J. Knauss who has extensive experience in digital technology and marketing, having served as the CEO and co-founder of Digital Hyve, a digital marketing and advertising firm that was named the 52nd fastest growing private company in the United States by Inc. Magazine in 2018. Mr. Knauss is Asian American and his appointment, along with the addition of Kerrie D. MacPherson in 2019 and Susan E. Skerritt in 2020, reflects the Board’s focused efforts to refresh the composition of the Board and foster a diverse composition of members.

A balanced Board composition, supplemented by a thoughtful approach to Director refreshment, is a continuing priority for the Company. The Governance Committee utilizes a skills matrix approach to assess the experience, skills, independence and diversity of nominees in the context of the current composition and needs of the Board. The Committee endeavors to identify nominees that possess diverse business experiences, appropriate skills, and geographic backgrounds reflecting the Company’s markets. In addition, the Governance Committee believes a stronger Board is one that reflects diversity. The Governance Committee also believes it is desirable to maintain a mix of experienced, tenured Directors who possess institutional knowledge along with the addition of newer Directors who have identified expertise and experience. The Governance Committee will continue to consider a diverse pool of candidates in the Director nomination process to further enhance diversity on the Board and add appropriate skills and experience in connection with succession planning at the Board level.

Copyright , © Powered By Q4 Inc.