Fireside Chat: Leading Change Through Diversity & Inclusion
Debbie Madden - CEO & Founder, Stride Consulting
Stephanie Moline - EVP, Enterprise Banking Group, First National Bank
Kathleen Price - Compliance Transformation Leader, Ally Bank
Following her keynote, Debbie Madden will lead a panel discussion with three influential and impactful women in the banking industry to address key issues in diversity and how they've skillfully and successfully navigated the industry. They will also discuss how increasing diversity creates a competitive advantage and is the best way to achieve a high performing team while also facilitating a positive working culture and creating community and inclusion.
Speaker 1: Now comes time for the fireside chat. So Debbie, hang up here please. And then we're going to bring a couple more leaders up. Stephanie [Moline 00:00:08], currently executive vice president at First National Bank of Omaha. She oversees commercial lending offices in the Lincoln and Fremont markets. She joined FNBO as a management trainee in 1982. Thank you very much Stephanie. And then also Kathleen Price. She is currently executive compliance director for Ally Financial. Just previously the wholesale credit transformation executive at Bank of America. Prior to that she was the chief operating officer for the global commercial bank at Bank of America, America, Merrill Lynch. She has been significantly involved in women's initiatives throughout her career, emphasizing equal opportunities, the importance of mentoring and a commitment to personal authenticity. Give it up for the fireside chat everybody. Thank you.
Debbie: I'm so excited for this conversation and thank you both for joining me up here and also because of you, we get nice chairs to sit in there.
Kathleen Price: They are nice chairs.
Debbie: So very excited about that. So I've just talked to everyone about the theory, right? And now we get to hear from Stephanie and Kathleen on your firsthand experiences and I'm really personally looking forward to hearing your answers. Now, this is meant to be a conversation not only amongst the three of us but between all of us, among all of us. So I have some questions here that I'll go through. If at any time anyone has questions, I don't know if someone has a mic or if you want to raise your hand, I can … it's hard for me to see back in that corner, but I can see pretty well the rest of the room. So really if there's anything at all that people have questions about during this chat, please do jump in. So Stephanie and Kathleen first, we did get a very nice introduction in terms of your background and your career history to date. If you could take another few moments just to tell us who you are.
Kathleen Price: First of all, I just want to say thank you because you are awesome-
Debbie: Oh, you're welcome. Thank you, appreciate that.
Kathleen Price: And that was just terrific to hear you talk about something you're clearly passionate about.
Debbie: Thank you.
Kathleen Price: I don't know who wrote that, but it really sounded nice about me. So thank you whoever wrote that. It might've been me. Yeah. I've been in financial services for 26 years. 24 of those at B of A and the last two at Ally. I'm a mom, I have three kids. I have one very neurotic dog. And this is really important, I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan.
Debbie: Me too.
Kathleen Price: Yeah. So, I was sort of curious in the audience if that was … if I make a Game of Thrones references, will those land? Yes? Okay. [crosstalk] Because I think Game of Thrones is a great … it's a great learning device for what not to do in management in many ways. So yeah.
Stephanie M.: So I'm not a 100% sure who wrote mine, because it's not right. So first of all, I'm sure in 1982 I was still a small child and I think actually somebody plagiarized that off of one of my … I'm actually in charge of corporate banking for First National Bank of Omaha and we're a privately owned bank that crosses seven states that kind of take the middle part of the United States, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa. We kind of jumped over. We in Kansas, we jumped over Oklahoma and went to Texas and Colorado. So that's kind of, we're kind of … that's where our footprint is. I'm also a Game of Thrones fan and my … actually, my passion is animals too. So have been … Neurotic's a good word for dogs. We have four rescue dogs and we started with white carpet and we'll see what color it really is someday. But I appreciate the opportunity to be invited to the panel.
Debbie: Excellent. So I also have a dog. So later, next fireside chat could be about [crosstalk] animals. That works. All right, so first question is, from a business standpoint, what do you see as the biggest value prop of diversity in the workplace? Cause that's what this is about. How do we bring value to teams and to organizations?
Kathleen Price: You covered it really nicely in terms of, I think it's really important to have hard numbers. I think sometimes people feel like it's something that we do cause we're supposed to do it. And that couldn't be further from the truth. But I think that diversity, well I'll just kick right off with a Game of Thrones reference. I think if there were different people in the Dothraki army on Sunday night, somebody might've raised their hand and said, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't run off into the dark against an enemy we don't know." Maybe if there was diversity of thought there. For all the non-Game of Thrones people, they don't get that.
Kathleen Price: But the … I was in a capital markets research group during the financial crisis and after the world melted down, they did a lot of analysis afterwards that if you had more women on trading floors, it's likely we would have never been in that position. So, and it's like scientific studies on just the impact that different types of people can have on risk-taking. And so I think in the financial services industry, it's particularly critical that we are thinking about risk-taking in a holistic way. But diversity is … for client-facing organizations, it's critical that you represent your client base. So I love your concept of trying to match the New York City market.
Kathleen Price: And then for Ally Bank, we're a digital bank there. We have no branches and we are trying to serve young people. So generational diversity, we talk a lot about. I'm not a digital native, so I'm going to approach digital banking in a different way than a young person will. So I think for all those reasons, it's absolutely critical that we have a diverse workforce, but more importantly, the inclusion component enables them to express that diversity. So to your point, you can have a diverse workforce. You can have all the numbers that you want, but if you haven't created an environment where people feel free to challenge each other constructively and express those thoughts, then you fail.
Debbie: Yeah. And I don't know if people have read the … there's a really powerful long article in the New York Times about Google's research and what actually goes into building the best teams. And it was not experience, seniority, none of that. It was simply the fact that everyone felt they had a voice. Right. And so that is another … Google spent years researching this and a very powerful data point to support what you're saying.
Stephanie M.: It's always hard to go second after someone articulated that so well. Occasionally I will say to one of the teams, having different eye color does not mean diversity. But what we do is we find it doesn't … if everybody looks a lot alike and thinks a lot of, we don't get any creativity, we don't think outside of the box or think things differently. It's always a way it needs to have been. And I think one of the things that having a diverse workforce is you ask why. "Well, we've always done it that way." Well why? It pushes you sometimes out of your comfort zone. So I think that diversity also leads to a lot different creativity in the workplace and outside.
Debbie: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm going to jump into asking a contradicting question. So of all its benefits, this topic and this concept is also hard. It's challenging, right? So have you experienced, or seen, or been a part of any major challenge or lesson learned that you'd like to share with us in terms of any challenges trying to manage and retain a diverse team has brought.
Stephanie M.: So I'm a commercial banker and have been a commercial banker most of my career. We analogize women that are RMs in the commercial bank, a little bit like unicorns. We know they're out there, but sometimes they're hidden behind trees. And so, and I used to think that was a little funnier than I do now. And then I had a young management trainee about two weeks ago say to me, "Why aren't there more women in commercial banking? What is there about that business line that doesn't attract women?" And it made me kind of step back and say, "Yeah, why is it that it doesn't attract young women?" And so if … in order to really be able to attract a diverse workforce, for me, I grew up being candidly … it would not be unusual for me to be one woman in a group of 25 men.
Stephanie M.: And then I just kind of became one of the guys and I didn't always think much about that I was the only woman. And then subsequently, if one of the gentleman used foul language, they would apologize to me and not to anybody else. And it's like, "Well, why did apologize to me?" And so it made me feel candidly like I wasn't really part of the group. And so it probably taught me some things that I never would do as I hired the next looking workforce is that everybody kind of was the same. If you feel compelled to swear, you should not feel like you should have to apologize to who's next to you. Just use a little bit of common sense. But it made me feel like I was an outsider and I was fighting to get in. And so, it was a good life lesson to say, "What do I want to do when we build the next team for the next generation?"
Kathleen Price: Sadly, common sense is rare, I find. We need more common sense in these discussions. I think you've made that point around DNI. It's people really feel like they're walking on eggshells. And I think there's … that's what makes it hard is that I don't want to offend you. And so I'll apologize now if I offend anybody while we're up here. But you have to have open, honest conversations and oftentimes you'll not know that you're being offensive. And the only way for me to be better is to have someone on the receiving end of that to say, "Hey, that doesn't really work." Right?
Kathleen Price: So I think that's the creating an environment where people can ask the tough questions and feel open to do that. You said it, it's a lot of work. It's daily work to enable that. But it's really important because that's where we learn. That's how we learn about each other. And that's how we all get better in managing it. I think it's really hard … the Me Too Movement … I grew up in investment banking, capital markets prior to the Me Too Movement and there's some things I'm ashamed about, that I didn't stand up for people because it was detrimental to your career, to your point. You feel like it is.
Kathleen Price: And now I look back and I thought, "Wow, I could have done something." And so now I feel like we've sort of crossed over this line where now it's much more open to talk about, but there's also backlash around me too where I feel … someone who's in the current administration made the comment they won't go to dinner with a woman by themselves. And I thought, "Well then, now that woman doesn't have access to you like her male counterparts do. So you've just limited her ability to grow in her career." And that's a negative outcome of some of these movements. So we have to navigate that together. It's challenging.
Debbie: Right. Yeah. And I think I go back to at the end of the day, we are all humans and individuals and we're looking at this through the lens of workplace efficiency, right? We want what's best for our teams. We want to achieve our objectives and this is a realistic means to achieve that. Right? And nothing more, nothing less. And it's really important. So let's … I want to shift a little bit because we talk about diversity and I want to be cautious of the fact that it's not simply gender. Gender is one piece, right? And we talked about this on the phone the other week, right?
Debbie: There are many types of diversity and challenges that come with all of them. And Kathleen, you mentioned a lot of folks coming into the banking industry today are digital first. And a lot of people that have maybe been in banking for 30 years are not digital first. Right? And so how do you manage generational diversity in banking? I think in this respect, I think it'd be very interesting for everyone here to hear your experiences and the ups and the downs.
Kathleen Price: I think it's funny, generational diversity feels like the last place where people sort of think it's okay to stereotype or generalize. It feels like that to me. Where we categorize gen Y millennials, gen Z, we put restrictions around who they are and what they want and how they operate. And I know just on my team I've got … I have three women who are all the same age and it would be very easy for me to say, "Oh they're all three millennials. So they're all going to respond exactly the same way." And they don't. They're three individuals that I have to manage differently to manage them. So I know that we … you have to put … the human brain has to put people in categories cause that's how we sort of get through the world. We can't make new decisions about everybody that we meet.
Kathleen Price: So we we apply a lens based on people we've interacted with in the past or our experiences and I think it's super important and really hard for us to constantly be questioning our own bias. Do I have a bias that's based in reality? Do I have a bias that's based in truth, based on my experience with them, or am I applying a lens from a prior experience with somebody totally different? Right? And I think that that generational diversity, particularly old to young, we sort of seem to … it feels like we discount them in a way. That's just my experience.
Kathleen Price: And I think being at Ally Bank where it is a digital-only bank, I have a much better appreciation for, I need to understand the way that they approach banking in order to serve them. At the same time, you still need … for commercial banking, it helps to have gray hair. Doesn't it, right? And in commercial banking it's about reps, right? You have to have gone through many, many different reps so that you are smart when it comes to making a decision. So it's a balancing act, but I think it goes back to being human. We're all human and when I come into an engagement I am no better and no less than the person I'm engaging with. And I think sometimes we … that's a little skewed when it comes to generational diversity, for some reason it seems that way.
Debbie: Do you see the same thing or have you seen something different?
Stephanie M.: The one thing I'd say as I get closer to one end than the other. I prefer to use experienced versus less experienced, versus old to young. I find that I like that better. And it's great that you turned to me when you mentioned the gray hair.
Kathleen Price: I [crosstalk] didn't mean to.
Stephanie M.: It's like, I'm just sort of sitting here wondering [crosstalk] whether I need to go and get that fixed here again. But having said that, I think you're right, generalizations are not worth the time. But I do think managing and coaching diversity of age and expectations has materially altered in the last 10 years. I think I have relationship managers that are 64 to 24 and a 40 year gap in what they expect or what they are desirous of in the workforce or in their workplace is materially different. And while I wouldn't generalize, I would tell you that we have made, had to make some very serious coaching alterations to accommodate a younger workforce that expects a lot more coaching and a lot more laying out of expectations of what the next 12 months, 36 months, 48 months looks like.
Stephanie M.: And I think just saying, "If you work hard, you'll be promoted. This is what you can expect." I think that generalization was bad too. And so, but I do think it has had a good effect on us stepping up our game to coach people and not just always lead with money to assume that that will attract a different person in the workforce. You need, just like anything else, you should see what's important to them. And core values line up with core values. And that is not necessarily an age related issue. That is kind of what you feel in here. And so I think that, I think having the 40 year span has made us alter the way we approach things.
Stephanie M.: I hope it makes us better. I do think that it makes us more agile. A traditional commercial bank is all day, every day figuring out how they do compete with a digital bank that isn't carrying around the cost of traditional brick and mortar. So I think it makes us look at things a lot different and figure out how to be more efficient so that we can compete with Ally or whomever, a FinTech, whatever. And I think the more diverse our workforce, the better we are at competing with you guys. So that was for the white hair comment.
Debbie: So do you, Stephanie, do you find that the internal coaching has been beneficial to your team? Do you go so far as to use that as a tool to attract new employees of different generations to your organization?
Stephanie M.: Maybe more of in an indirect way. So I think that the best way for me to attract really good new talent that has an appreciation for our culture is that I let sometimes some of our people that have had some of the coaching and some of the opportunities and maybe discussion on work/life balance, help do the recruiting for us. And so, I am of a certain age, and me saying it maybe is different than somebody that is a contemporary using it too.
Stephanie M.: I do … and a lot of organizations say, "We'll put a coach with you. We will do this, we will do that." And follow a process. The answer is, is that they will ask somebody that isn't necessarily that person to confirm or deny that that's actually true. And I think that what's valuable to me may not be valuable to whomever. And so I think that being adaptive in a little bit more nimble than maybe a commercial bank had been in the past, I think is probably critical here to survive.
Debbie: Yep. Excellent. I really love that. And I think, the reason why I asked that question is because as we are talking about the value and the exercises we're going to go through, once we see something that's working, let's recognize it and then use it to our advantage.
Stephanie M.: Absolutely.
Debbie: Right? If the coaching has been the thing to get you from A to B, then let's double down on that, right?
Stephanie M.: Absolutely.
Debbie: I think there's real value and that's where we come to the prioritization. Once we … if we get that feedback, right? Use it, right?
Stephanie M.: Absolutely.
Debbie: Cause I think it's [inaudible 00:18:54]. So I really like that example. So I would love for you to share, what do you wish you knew then that you know now? Right? Five years ago, 10 years ago, you've seen your current organization's and current teams and past teams. I'm sure there's moments when you go, "Oh my God, if I only knew this five years ago, I could have avoided that whole thing." What have you seen? Let me repeat. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?
Kathleen Price: I said a little bit there just around women in the workplace. I wish I was able to challenge that moment at the time. And I think it's important … now I look back and I realize it doesn't matter your title, or where you sit in the company, or how many people are on your team, you have the ability to be a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in your current company with its current rules and its current culture and all of that. You can make an impact. And I didn't realize that until a little … I was sort of coming up the ranks and I realized, "Oh you don't have to be the boss to to impact that."
Kathleen Price: And I think the inclusion point is really almost, it's not more important, but it's if you have a team … exactly the point you just made. If you've created an inclusive environment, that will sell. That is what will bring you diversity, because people will want to be part of that inclusive environment. And so your comment about don't go out and hire people, work with a team that you have to make sure that you have that inclusive attitude and that people will have access to you that they feel comfortable coming to work in their full selves. Once you have that, it almost creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of other people are going to want to join that team. And I've seen that happen a lot in terms of that if you can … if you do that first, the diversity sort of comes.
Stephanie M.: So under the heading of inclusion, I might've taken myself a lot more seriously when I was younger. As I get older, there's less value about that at all. That is one good thing about getting older, is it maybe it makes you just that much wiser. Is that to be part of the group, you can't be afraid to have people laugh at you, you didn't … it's perfectly fine for them to see you not be the smartest person in the room. It's okay. I mean, I'm going to apologize for people that heard the story the session before, but celebrate stuff.
Stephanie M.: Make people feel like they're bigger, a part of something bigger and that they want to get up and say, "Regardless of gender, regardless of race," whatever it is, "I want to be part of that team because they like who I am, they value who I am and it's not something that is … is not regimented." And we celebrate things. You get a big new deposit and a couple of us ran through our fountain at the headquarters and they were clearly able to see, I didn't take myself that seriously when one of the jets went up my shorts. But you just have to be willing to say, "I'm okay putting it out there. I'm okay for people saying it's okay to have a little bit of fun and I want the team to come out there."
Stephanie M.: And what was probably the most cool about that is the owner of our bank, who I had to ask if it's okay if I ran through the fountain, came out and said to the team that had brought over a large deposit that had been at another bank for 50 years, "Way to go." You know what? That is more important to that team to build that teamwork unit. And that kept them going for another two years. To be honest with you, anytime we did a survey, that's the thing that came out. So it's okay to not take yourself seriously. It's a serious business you're in, but it's okay to sometimes let them see that you're willing to get a little wet.
Kathleen Price: To add to that, I've never run through a fountain, but I'm trying to figure out where there's a fountain I can run through should I need to, is the questioning why, that diverse teams ask more questions. So I'm in the transformation business and the main tool that I have in my arsenal is getting my team to ask why and to ask why of oftentimes senior people that have done this for a long time and to go in and just keep asking why, keep peeling away that onion. And I joined this team and I didn't know anything about compliance.
Kathleen Price: So I showed up and I would ask really stupid questions and there's a vulnerability in that. I'm showing up and I'm like, "I don't know what I'm doing here, but I know how to ask why." And the great thing about that is that they realize that's okay. That it's okay not to know, but it's not okay not to be curious. So that feeds on itself. And now it's funny, I get challenged all the time by my own team. I'm like, "All right, all right, all right. You figured it out, you know how to ask why. Let's just go with it." But they … and it's created that great dynamic on the team.
Debbie: Excellent. One thing Kathleen I think you said a few minutes ago, reminded me of a statistic that when I first learned it, it was an aha moment. When you are less than 5% of a certain demographic, you want to blend in. And when you have enough people on your team that together you make up more than 5%, you want to stand out for being special. I think it's interesting because I think often we're confused about, do we say we're all different or we say we're all the same? Right?
Debbie: And I think the actual … the answer is, as we're talking about building these diverse teams, well, nobody wants to be the one of anything. But if we can band together and we have this kind of pride in our team sort of thing, then we want to stand out. So that was a big day that I learned years ago and it's kind of stuck with me. And as I'm listening to you talk, I just kind of thought of it. So we have only a few minutes left and I'll ask if anyone here would like to jump in with some questions or if you would like me to continue asking questions. Yes, someone will be coming with the microphone.
Speaker 5: Debbie, at the beginning of your talk, you showed a graphic on the screen of a similar looking group of four individuals. But my question for everyone is when we find ourselves at that table looking around and we all look the same, how do we speak up and start that conversation of like, "Hey, maybe there's a lot of similarities here. How do we make that a little bit more different? How do we get to that point in our organization?"
Debbie: I would love to hear how it applies to your teams in the banking industry.
Kathleen Price: It's such a great point, that the very first thing is noticing, which I think is awesome. But I think there's two things that need to happen to be a successful, and depending on the size of the organization, it's more important I think in a larger organization, but you have to have an institutional will to believe in diversity and inclusion as an important factor in success of the company and create the framework for that so that it requires diverse slates or it requires you to … they have certain numbers that they want to achieve and that's in the goals. And so that's sort of the federal level, right? And with that I think comes training. I really believe unconscious bias training is just helped tremendously. If anybody here has been through it, it sort of blows your mind sometimes the things that we think are true that are not true.
Kathleen Price: And so there's that federal responsibility to create that environment, but then there's a personal responsibility to do exactly what you're saying. I see it. I think it's not right and then I'm actually taken action to change that. I'm going to talk to my manager, I'm going to talk to HR. I'm going to suggest that we look at a different way to include … to make diversity important. I thought the speaker this morning and I apologize, can't remember his name. That concept around hiring in groups and take a chance on the weirdo was really powerful and it's … would be really interesting I think to to look at it that way. If you have a team that's big enough to hire in a group, you can get a much more diverse pool. So anyway, I think those two things together, there's a personal responsibility about combating or encouraging inclusion and diversity, but it really helps when you have an institutional will that's supporting you in that.
Stephanie M.: I think when you look at adding that fifth person to the table, that you start with why, is that as opposed to, "I should do this because we all look the same." I think that the person at the table and their other three teammates says, "When we go and add the fifth person that makes an uneven number at our table, is there something we should do different? Is there a different value proposition that we're missing? Are we all coming up with the new Game of Thrones app for … and could we get a different dragon?" The answer is, is there … as opposed to doing it for the sake of doing it to say it's a box that you're checking or it's something … will that add value to your team?
Stephanie M.: And being … everybody kind of being at least at that size in agreement that maybe just having everybody look alike, perhaps doing things alike, and thinking alike that there's a real value proposition to your team to bring somebody that maybe brings a different school. Asking why, asking is there … why are we doing it this way? Is there a different way of doing it? That there's value, not just checking a box. Cause once you get to saying, "You need to do it for the sake of diversity," you've already lost the battle. I mean, and that you're not valuing your next hire. You're looking at them different than you did the first three hires that whomever made in that group, I think.
Debbie: Yep. All right. I think I've also seen a lot of success with smaller experiments. Right? So maybe you bring in someone from another team to sit in on your weekly meeting. Right? Things like that. Right? I think again, going back to small, easy experiments, but absolutely. I mean, what's the value, right? It all comes back to that. So I believe that we are about [crosstalk] out of time. One more question. Okay. Yeah.
Marco: Okay. Excuse me. Hi, I'm Marco from Bank America. One of the things that I've always struggled with is compensation. I think it's … nobody talks about it. It's not very transparent. I have no idea if there's gaps in my company or across the board. How do you think we should address that in terms of adding transparency and then addressing the diversity problem through that as well? I would like your thoughts on that.
Kathleen Price: That's like the third rail, man.
Stephanie M.: It is.
Kathleen Price: And I … it is about transparency and for many, many decades in financial services, it was taboo to talk about it and I think it was taboo to talk about it, that served … that might've served senior management well because clearly there's a huge pay gap and it's a huge problem. I am a big proponent … I can't wait to stop talking about women's issues. That will be a glorious day for me. What I want to talk about are family issues and family-friendly policies and equal pay is a family necessity in our current economy and parental leave. Having both maternal and paternal leave is critical. I think a lot of women, gosh, I'm going to get on a soapbox here and I know we're out of time, but for a lot of women in client-facing business where reps really matters, when you go out on maternity leave, you just missed a big chunk of time.
Kathleen Price: Right? And that's … we cannot penalize women anymore for furthering the species. Like we just … it's just so … it's such a violation, but I think for a long time that was considered okay because you didn't have the experience, you didn't have the reps. So when you introduce parental leave and men now take a leave, you're starting to balance that out and you're creating a much more family-friendly environment for what today is almost two working households is common. That wasn't traditionally the case. So to me, that is … the pay inequality, it will be solved through transparency and through talking about it and continuing to fight until it is equal pay.
Stephanie M.: I agree. I'm a big proponent for not paying people for sitting in a seat and just because you're of a certain age and you're doing exactly the same job, it doesn't mean that you're entitled to more money. I think that … and the transparency with that is be paid for the job you do. But I think it's incumbent as managers that if you have the ability or the control that you can look over a large group and there are disparities that pop up within a certain group.
Stephanie M.: Ask yourself why and then it doesn't have to be year end that you do some kind of a race. If there is something there that clearly stands out to you, maybe you do it in two steps, but do the right thing. I mean, I'm a big proponent of that is that if something's glaring, fix it. I mean, there's … if it's within your power, or if you need to go another level up, go and explain the case. Most people are pretty open to that conversation these days, but it's not something that's going to get a magic wand waved and get fixed. It will come with transparency and will come with people in the room that are committed to fixing it.
Kathleen Price: I think some companies have started doing ranges for jobs. And I think it's really critical because if you are [crosstalk] paying for the work and you find yourself at the low end of the range, you can ask … you can have a conversation about that. "How do I get to the upper end of the range? What is it that's holding me back?" And you talked about incentives and what behavior are we incentivizing? That's a really important part of pay and making sure that we're not incentivizing the wrong behavior, because that can also lead to inequity. So it's something that we should all be working towards.
Debbie: So Stephanie and Kathleen, thank you so much. [crosstalk] This was a joy and thank you all for the past hour and I appreciate your attention. Thank you.
Kathleen Price: Thank you.
Stephanie M.: Thank you.
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