Vol. 108 2024 Issue 4 (July/August)

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The Journey and Your Business

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion: The Journey and Your Business

Like many companies throughout the U.S., Old National Bank recognizes that maintaining a firm commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is a powerful differentiator and a key to our continued success. Strong Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs and policies help organizations like ours attract, develop and retain top talent by building a culture of inclusion where differences are not just welcomed, but also celebrated. They also help contribute to the sustainability of a more just and equitable society through strategic philanthropy, volunteerism, partnerships, lending and investments. Additionally, they foster social responsibility and help ensure that companies remain focused on sound, sustainable business practices.

I’m pleased to share that the majority of U.S. adults recognize and value the positive effects of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the workplace. In a recent survey by Ipsos, 71% of respondents said they want Diversity, Equity & Inclusion resources within their organization and believe Diversity, Equity & Inclusion training is important to “creating a positive workplace culture.”

It is also important to note that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is a journey, not a destination. Rather than being viewed as an “add-on” to other efforts within an organization, it works best as an integrated, highly collaborative approach that reaches into every corner of how you do business.

With this in mind, I want to share a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Roadmap that I believe can help your company develop an approach that is meaningful for your business, no matter where you are along the journey.

The Journey

What began as the implementation of the 1960s civil rights legislation into workplace policies focusing mostly on race and gender, has evolved into what we now know as Diversity, Equity & Inclusion programs. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, top businesses began to focus less on compliance with laws and more on creating an inclusive culture where all aspects of diversity are treated fairly and where all employees feel as if they belong.

Today, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has become more important to a financial institution’s critical stakeholders – from shareholders, clients and community members to the team members who serve them. Banks can no longer afford to put off investing in their culture, workplace diversity and talent pool. The evolution, and subsequent importance, of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has made it the driver for better business results for financial institutions.

Do your employees, from executive leadership to entry level roles, reflect the diversity and lived experience of your client base? Do they understand the unique cultural richness of the communities you serve? If not, your company may not be maximizing the return on investment in its most important asset: your employees.

If your frontline decision-making teams reflect a diverse and inclusive culture, then you are likely among the 75% of companies that exceed their financial targets (Gartner, 2022). Adding to this success, gender-diverse and inclusive teams outperformed less-inclusive teams by 50% on average (Gartner, 2022).

Additionally, diverse teams are more tapped into different experiences, which gives your organization more options and greater flexibility. They are more effective at identifying new opportunities and tend to be more innovative, resourceful and better at ideation and driving growth.

Moving Forward with Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

At Old National, our heightened Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts over the last two years have helped define our culture and drive our positive results. We continue to believe our approach to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is a competitive advantage and a differentiator to our business success.

As a leader of this work, I firmly believe that focusing on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion never comes at the expense of success. Rather, a strategically implemented Diversity, Equity & Inclusion approach in your business will propel you to greater heights by providing you access to new partnerships, relationships and new clients.

My 20+ year career in financial services in roles in wealth management, commercial lending as well as community engagement and corporate philanthropy uniquely shapes my perspective on the power of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in business. In my previous client-facing roles, my lived experience coupled with deep industry expertise opened new business opportunities in untapped markets. As a community engagement leader, I was able to build meaningful relationships and uncover new client opportunities by understanding needs through a broad, intersectional cultural lens, developing solutions that meet people where they are while building the company brand and influence in the community. Just these couple of examples demonstrate how my dimensions of diversity and cultural competency have served me well in driving business results. This is the power of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for businesses!

Now, take a moment to imagine how your company can leverage Diversity, Equity & Inclusion to accelerate your business goals. Focus on the work, not the destination, and you will enjoy success!

Digital Extra

Whether you have never done any Diversity, Equity & Inclusion work or you’ve had dedicated staff for years, the IBA has created a new Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Roadmap that will help you find your on-ramp and get you where you want to be.

From answering questions about how these programs can improve your bottom line, to concrete ideas on how to get started and deeper dives that can take your programming and services to the next level, there are ideas for banks of every size.

Thank you to the bankers from nine IBA-member banks who formed the IBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee to create this resource.

Corliss has been with Old National since 2022 and is a member of the IBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. She was named to then-Chicago Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson’s Transition Committee serving on the Human Rights, Equity, & Inclusion Subcommittee in 2023 and was listed as one of Chicago’s 2023 Business Leaders of Color by Chicago United.

Email Corliss at

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