First Horizon Corporation: Elevating Equity, First Horizon Takes Diversity and Inclusion to the Next Level

by Dr. Anthony C. Hood

One of the things that attracted Dr. Anthony C. Hood to give up a tenured professor position in Fall 2020 to become the Chief DEI Officer for First Horizon Corporation was the organization’s culture. “I was struck by the company’s track record of success in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace,” says Dr. Hood. “The opportunity I saw was to center the company’s D&I strategy on equity and to expand the strategy to be enterprise wide.”

The shift in strategy was accompanied by an intense focus on data analytics, reporting and evidence-based best practices. “DEI work can evoke a lot of emotion. However, numbers aren’t emotional. The data are what they are,” says Dr. Hood.

As a result, Elevating Equity is now one of First Horizon’s core values and the guiding principle for embedding DEI into everything the company does.

First Horizon’s DEI strategy is managed by a four-person team and organized into four pillars representing its various constituents. The first two pillars, Workforce and Workplace, are managed by Jabiana Bolden and focus on how the company advances DEI for current and prospective associates. The Marketplace and Community pillars, led by Courtney Potts, address how the company cultivates equity in the markets it serves. Cody Jackson ensures the work of the four pillars is informed by empirical data and peer reviewed DEI research. “I spend a good bit of my time partnering with our senior leaders to embed my team’s work into their respective business units’ strategies,” says Dr. Hood.

These efforts have accelerated the company’s progress in DEI. In May 2022, President and CEO Bryan Jordan signed the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion, making the company one of over 2,000 brands to commit to enhancing DEI within their organizations. “The Action Pledge affirms our recognition of the importance of DEI to our clients, communities and associates. We believe in creating opportunities to appreciate all people for their unique contributions, financial needs and inherent value,” says Jordan. As a follow up to the pledge, the company also committed to ten actions to elevate equity across the four pillars.

The company’s commitment to DEI is also reflected in its executive management committee, with six of the CEO’s eight direct reports being diverse. Recruitment and retention efforts focus on diverse populations to capitalize on differing points of view and experiences, and the company actively recruits at veteran job fairs, as well as the National Black MBA Association’s annual job fair.

Within the workplace, First Horizon revamped its DEI Council to include associates from all lines of business and organizational levels, as well as leaders of its Associate Resource Groups. “Our ARG program is rapidly expanding, with four new ARGs and two new chapters of existing ARG’s formed this year,” continues Dr. Hood.

As part of the Community pillar, First Horizon demonstrates its commitment to DEI through sponsorships, volunteerism and philanthropy. The company sponsors events for women and minority business owners to source diverse suppliers as well as provide guidance for tapping into existing capital for their organizations. First Horizon also sponsors Pride events throughout its footprint each year, which have remained among the most attended associate engagement activities. Additionally, the company invests in creating more equitable communities through the First Horizon Foundation and the First Horizon Louisiana Foundation. Since 2021, the Foundations have awarded over $10 million in grants to DEI efforts throughout the Southeast.

“The progress we’ve made is a direct result of partnerships within First Horizon,” says Dr. Hood. “Without their support and intentional efforts to elevate equity, we would have seen dramatically different outcomes.”

“While an organization’s efforts to advance DEI are never done, we are proud of our progress and excited for our future. Stay tuned!” says Dr. Hood.

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