Q&A with KeyBank Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Greg Jones: Moving to action

by Savoy Staff

At KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, DE&I has been a foundational cornerstone of KeyBank’s business, reflected in its award-winning culture, mission, and community engagement.

Moving the needle on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and racial equity requires teamwork, leadership and action. As KeyBank’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Greg Jones works closely with KeyBank’s leadership team and teammates across the country to advance Key’s DE&I efforts. The Chicago native and Navy veteran recently shared some of his perspectives on this critical work.

What does the term “diversity” mean in your work? Why is this such a critical foundation for DE&I efforts?

Diversity means being able to bring one’s full self to the table. Not only bringing it to the table, but welcoming the full expression of experiences. It’s foundational to this work because advancing DE&I efforts begins with having diverse experiences and backgrounds to learn from and build upon – of all kinds. This includes gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.

As Chief DE&I Officer, you’re on the front lines, pushing these efforts forward day to day. How do you lead and 
approach this work to maximize your effectiveness?

I just shared “diversity” meaning we have all perspectives at the table. In leadership, it’s about leading in a way that encourages and motivates people to come to that table. Even if you have a table… will people sit? The leader influences if people will make that choice.

Second, the leader must have the courage and license from the top levels of the organization to advance DE&I, including crossing boundaries when it comes to conversations and actions. It’s one thing to say you are going to “do” diversity work; it’s another to have an understanding and desire to know what value these efforts will bring to the organization.

How do you think about Key’s DE&I strategy?

My role of Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer has existed at the organization for nearly 20 years, creating a legacy that I am proud and excited to build upon. Our three critical pillars – workforce, workplace, and marketplace – put a structure in place to make sure we are focusing on advancing in all areas: our teammates, our business, and our communities.

Can you share more about the three areas of focus?

Workforce: As set by the board of directors, one of KeyBank’s top strategic priorities is to engage a high-performing, talented, and diverse workforce. We are committed to continuing our long-standing legacy of being a diverse, equitable, and inclusive company, including advancing talent acquisition efforts and introducing industry-leading programs that embrace all abilities.

Workplace: We believe in investing in career growth not only through training and formal learning, but also through mentoring, employee resource groups, and developmental opportunities. At KeyBank, we offer a dozen employee resource groups, and 55% of teammates are a member.

Marketplace: We are committed to supporting diverse suppliers and engaging in our communities. In 2019, Key achieved 9% diverse spend.

Launched in 2017, KeyBank’s National Community Benefits Plan drives investment for low- to moderate-income individuals, families, and communities through community development and affordable housing, mortgage and small business lending, and transformative philanthropy. KeyBank recently increased that commitment to $40 billion, with a continued focused on social and economic equity for underserved communities and populations.  

What’s your vision for Key’s DE&I efforts?

While there is a strong foundation in place, we know we can’t rest. 2020 brought significant challenges to our communities and a collective awakening about the injustices people of color face every day. We all have the opportunity and obligation to take action and influence change. Our steadfast commitment remains to advancing all aspects of our strategy – workforce, workplace, and marketplace – to create sustained change in our business and in the places where we work and live.



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