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Article: Equipment finance leaders share DE&I efforts

By Amy Thomas in Thought Leadership Posted March 29, 2021

Adam Warner on DE&I in the MonitorLeaders from throughout the equipment finance industry described their strategies for creating workplaces that are diverse, inclusive and equitable in a recent Monitor article, including Key Equipment Finance President Adam Warner.

Adam Warner, President, Key Equipment Finance“Key’s culture encourages employees to bring their full and authentic selves to work,” Warner told writer Rita E. Garwood. “Our employees believe it and they do it, ultimately creating better outcomes for our clients and the communities we serve.”

The article noted that the state of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) across the equipment finance ecosystem varies dramatically. 

Several leaders described their organizations as being on a journey of some kind to create internal programs and community partnerships that engage employees in DE&I initiatives.

Warner describes initiatives at Key

Warner noted that half of his senior leadership team are women. “We also have members of the LGBTQ community in senior leadership roles within Key Equipment Finance (KEF).”

He also acknowledged that Key Equipment Finance must continue its focus on improving diversity within its workforce.

“Although we have a strong foundation of diversity, equity and inclusion at Key, we can improve on our legacy," he said. "We still need to be proactive in thoughtful recruiting of diverse candidates to build a strong slate of qualified applicants.” 

Programs develop opportunities for diverse students

Key Equipment Finance, KeyBank’s Colorado market and the KeyBank Foundation have helped to create two programs at the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder Leeds School of Business with the CU Office of Diversity Affairs: the KeyBank Business Leadership Program and the KeyBank Summer Bridge Program.

“If you want to grow, you have to focus on the opportunities for development,” Warner states. “For example, to improve diversity in our workforce, we need to get involved early and encourage diverse students to consider financial services, banking and equipment finance as viable, aspirational career paths.”

The KeyBank Business Leadership Program targets diverse high school juniors and seniors and brings them onto campus to live for one week in the summer. 

“Going to a university can be intimidating for some students,” Warner says. “Getting them on campus through the KeyBank Business Leadership Program connects them to faculty, staff and peers, and shows them they have avenues and alliances at the school.” 

The KeyBank Summer Bridge Program prepares students from underrepresented, first-generation and low-income backgrounds who may not meet the ACT/SAT and/or GPA requirements set by the school to be successful by creating academic, professional and social programming during an intensive three weeks at the university. 

“They learn and meet people that may have more in common with them, and they stay longer because of these connections,” Warner says. “The goal is not only to attract diverse students but to also have them graduate and find jobs.” 

Warner hopes the programs with CU Boulder also will help students become interested in coming to work for Key Equipment Finance or KeyBank. All companies, he says, should make attracting and retaining diverse talent a priority if they want the diversity of thought that brings many benefits to an organization. 

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