My wife Gloria won’t let me forget buying Christmas presents for my father the first year we were married. I suggested a pair of tall, green rubber boots trimmed in yellow. Gloria didn’t think this was a good idea, but she acquiesced. We presented the boots to my father, who said, “What did you buy these for? I don’t want these.” To this day, Gloria has not stopped laughing.
Ben Tarver’s father may not have wanted rain boots. But he did want his children to get a solid education, and Tarver credits both his parents for inspiring him in the right direction. “They kept me focused on education as a strategy for success and staying out of trouble.” Tarver reciprocated by earning both an MBA and a law degree and then putting his education to work in positive ways.
“Witnessing discrimination firsthand during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s stirred a desire in me,” Tarver says, “to want to fight for and seek justice for oppressed people and people in poverty.”
Tarver was raised in an urban housing project where he interacted with diverse cultures — an experience that he says gave him a keener insight into how similar all people really are, despite their slight differences. “My business philosophy reflects my upbringing, in that I respect and understand that all of us bring different things to the table,” he explains. “But we are motivated by similar interests. We want to provide a good living for our families. We want to reside in safe neighborhoods. We want to give our children more than we had, and we want to make a positive contribution to society.”
Now, as the vice president of Allstate’s Law and Regulation Department’s Corporate Security Practice Group, Tarver applies that leadership philosophy on a daily basis. He currently oversees a $2.1 million annual budget and leads a team of 10 lawyers who support Allstate’s efforts to protect its assets. The Corporate Security Practice Group investigates allegations of suspected dishonesty, violation of company policy, and/or violations of state or federal law by the company’s employees or independent contractors.
But, while working to safeguard organizational assets, Tarver is also helping to protect the environment. He observed successful initiatives to create a paperless work environment and envisioned a way to apply that same concept to the compilation and storage of interview evidence compiled during Corporate Security investigations. Tarver pursued the idea, and now Allstate reduces costs, saves time, and facilitates the scheduling of meetings through video conferencing — while reducing travel expenses by more than 20 percent. Thanks to Tarver’s innovation, the company also promotes a greener and more efficient workplace with a smaller carbon footprint.
Meanwhile, the positive impact of Tarver’s leadership extends beyond the workplace. “In addition to his long record of achieving solid business results, his devotion to mentoring and community is evident in his everyday actions,” explains Michael Escobar, Allstate’s vice president of Diversity and Organizational Effectiveness and Tarver’s Eagle Award nominator.
Tarver attributes much of his inspiration for giving back to the community to the tragic loss of his son, Ben, Jr., who died shortly after his 20th birthday. “He was bright, energetic, and full of life,” says Tarver. “As a result of his passing, I try to remind others how fleeting life is. The number of years we live is not as important as how we live them and if we helped others.”
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2011 Eagle Award winner Benjamin A. Tarver.