Dr. Anthony C. Hood, an executive vice president and chief diversity officer at First Horizon Bank, is pretty frank when it comes to banks addressing (or not addressing) their DEI initiatives, and he sat down with me to run through it all.
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1. Financial institutions and corporations overcomplicate the matter of diversity, equity, and inclusion. That’s the view of Dr. Anthony C. Hood, the chief DEI officer at First Horizon, a Southeastern regional bank that’s being acquired by Toronto-Dominion Bank.
“If it were easy, we’d have already addressed it,” Dr. Hood told Insider. “But we have a tendency to overcomplicate it.”
In financial services, companies don’t apply DEI programs with the same “rigor and vigor” as they do with financial performance, Dr. Hood said.
“We do forecasting for loan growth, deposits, credit worthiness, you name it. Oftentimes, when it comes to DEI, that’s where it stops,” he said.
It’s no easy feat. Both Wall Street and Main Street finance tend to be very white, male-dominated. Big financial institutions love Ivy League schools, and for many poorer high-school students, those expensive schools are often a pipe dream.
But Dr. Hood is applying what he believes is a simple, transparent process to an age-old problem in banking.
He wants to take data analytics and insights and apply them to talent searches. Questions like: What percentage of people across different races and genders progress through First Horizon’s pipeline?
“Are we presenting that data on a monthly basis to our leaders in the same way we’re presenting data on deposits and things like that? That’s the focus we’re taking now, because we want to present our leaders with DEI data in the same way they’re accustomed to looking at financial performance,” he said.
Dr. Hood also wants more diverse groups of people being provided pathways to better-paying jobs in banking like credit analysis, portfolio management, and commercial-banking roles.
“You find a lot of diversity at the entry level, particularly retail banking. But how do we be more intentional about opportunities in commercial banking? It’s about being intentional about the pathways and pipelines for employees,” he said.
He’s also a big advocate for historically Black colleges and universities as sources of greater talent pools. And he believes that First Horizon, headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee, needs to be on the front foot. The state has the 10th highest number of Black Americans (17%) in the US, according to the World Population Review, and boasts well-known HBCUs like Fisk University and Tennessee State.
“First Horizon operates where you have the largest concentration of HBCUs and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Having those partnerships with those institutions creates pipelines to bring in new talent,” he said.
Here’s more about DEI on Wall Street:
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