KeyBank CEO focuses on women in banking

17 November, 2014 (13:11) | Blog | By: admin

By Diana Louise Carter, Staff writer

When Beth E. Mooney’s position as the first female CEO of a top-20 bank becomes a footnote instead of headline, then she can stop fielding the questions about gender equity in the workplace.

That’s what the KeyCorp chairman and CEO shared during a visit to Rochester to speak before a state banking conference. But the topic was especially appropriate, as the conference focused on women in banking.

So until that change happens, she’ll most likely continue talking about the need to help women advance in professional ranks.

“You carry while you climb,” said Mooney. And by sharing the specifics of how she rose through the ranks at various banks and reached the top of the Cleveland-based Key Community Bank in 2011, she hopes to inspire other women.

Mooney says she didn’t invent diverse hiring at KeyBank; she inherited it when she took over the jobs in 2010. She cites a number of accolades in the form of diversity indexes that highlight KeyBank’s steps to ensure the higher ranks are open to a variety of demographics.

But it should be noted that Mooney earned at least one headline by taking specific action: Presented a list of candidates for head of IT at the bank, she refused it because the list wasn’t diverse and included only one gender. A second try included the name of a woman who left Bank of America to take on what’s seen — stereotypically — a man’s job.

The same message to promote diversity and respect for women’s ideas gets handed down locally, even though the highest local and New York state positions for Key are held by men.

Rochester market President James R. Barger says he can’t do a thing at Key without consulting with or getting pivotal information from women who are employed at high levels at the bank. (KeyBank says 72 percent of its 175 Rochester-area workforce is female.)

“One of my roles as market president is to help guide what is best for Rochester,” Barger said. And that includes support of women’s groups in its community giving programs, he noted.

What’s also best for KeyBank in Rochester is growth, both Barger and Mooney said.

After the sale of HSBC branches and a whole lot of consolidation of redundant branches across Upstate New York in 2012, KeyBank’s presence in Rochester rose from 15 branches to 23. Many banks that bought those fire-sale branches saw an immediate growth in assets and deposits. And KeyBank was no exception, nearly doubling its market share of deposits to 6.45 percent.

Deposits are flat now, Barger said, but growth in commercial loans continues for Key: the bank has seen an almost 40 percent increase this year so far.

For customers, growth may look a little differently in the near future than in the near past, Mooney said.

“A couple of years ago we were building branches,” she said. Now some competitors are closing branches and Mooney predicted about 10 percent of KeyBank’s branches may end up closing across its national footprint as populations shift and online banking habits grow.

About twice as many transactions now take place online than in person, Mooney said. But that doesn’t mean the bank will become tellerless. She said customers will always need human contact for services such as applying for a loan or opening an account.

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