Diversity chiefs gain prominence as banks confront racial inequality


American Banker | August 9, 2020

The American Banker article, “Diversity chiefs gain prominence as banks confront racial inequality,” quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Bradlee Benn​ on why​​ diverse perspectives are crucial to an organization. The article is excerpted below.​

Banks across the country are redoubling ​their efforts to improve diversity within their ranks by hiring chief diversity officers or elevating such roles to the C-suite level.

For some, the announcements are culminations of work that began at least a year ago. For others they are explicit responses to George Floyd’s death in May and the ​​civil unrest that followed.​

U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis, for example, recently announced that Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cunningham will now directly report to Chairman and CEO​​​​​​ Andy Cecere. PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh promoted Richard Bynum from regional president to the brand-new post of chief corporate responsibility officer and tasked him with overseeing diversity and inclusion efforts. And Birmingham, Ala.-based BBVA USA is making plans to hire its first-ever chief diversity officer.

Meanwhile, the American Bankers Association, the trade group that represents banks of all sizes, is expanding its diversity team to two people with the addition of a vice president for internal diversity, equity and inclusion who will be responsible for increasing the hiring and retention of underrepresented groups and developing a culture of inclusion within the organization.


A variety of voices will “bring diverse perspectives, which are really important for how businesses think about long-term strategies, growth opportunities and key business decisions​​​​,” said Bradlee Benn, co-leader of Russell Reynolds Associates’ diversity and inclusion practice. “It’s also go​ing to have a direct impact in terms of an ability to attract and retain top talent within organizations.”​

To read the full article, click here.