“I think our teams should reflect our customers,” John Turner said.

The President and CEO of Regions Bank was candidly addressing the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout a company that serves millions of people.

“We have a very diverse customer base,” he added. “So our teams should reflect our markets. They should reflect our focus on providing financial services to a wide range of people.”

The setting for Turner’s comments was a wide-ranging discussion on how diversity and inclusion not only build a better working environment, but also create a more successful company – one that best reflects with the communities it serves and the people it employs.

The discussion was part of “Conversations with Clara,” a new series of frank, topical forums led by Clara Green, Regions’ head of Diversity and Inclusion. Her conversation with the CEO was held at Regions’ headquarters and was open to all Regions associates. Further, it was broadcast live to company offices across the Southeast, Midwest and Texas. It reflected how diversity and inclusion, together, is a key priority for Regions – and one that is championed by the company’s top leaders.

Below are five key takeaways.

  1. Fostering greater diversity makes Regions a better bank.

“It’s important that we have broad points of view and perspectives as we think about our customers and as we think about our business and how we serve those customers,” Turner said, pointing out the bank serves more than 4.5 million customers – including individuals and businesses – in communities large and small.

So, in turn, the bank is focused on consistently recruiting and elevating people from different backgrounds – and listening to their input – to ensure Regions’ products and services can consistently help customers achieve their financial goals.

“One of the things we do really well is work as a team,” Turner said, adding that frequently recognizing the talents and performance of colleagues is crucial to maximizing the benefits of diversity and inclusion. “If we do those things, we will encourage our teammates. I think it will help us continue to build diversity and drive inclusion across the organization. And that will positively impact our performance. There’s no question in my mind about it.”

  1. At Regions, it’s not just about diversity. It’s about inclusion, too.

“I have long believed that diverse teams are better teams,” Turner said, adding that it’s not enough to simply be diverse; a successful company must also be inclusive of others’ opinions and viewpoints.

“Inclusion is about how we treat others. It’s about the work environment we create,” Turner pointed out. “Often, it’s the small things. It’s about whose opinions you ask for. It’s about who you have coffee with, who you go to lunch with. It’s about the kinds of activities that your team participates in if they have an off-site meeting, making sure they include the ideas and perspectives of everyone.”

By ensuring more people have a seat at the table – and that business decisions are made based on the insights of people with a wide range of views – Regions can elevate its performance as a broader team. This creates not only a more vibrant workplace – but also a better experience for customers.

  1. Regions’ Board of Directors reflects the company’s ongoing focus on diversity and inclusion.

In 2018, Regions Financial Corporation was recognized by 2020 Women on Boards as a “Winning ‘W’ Company” based on board diversity. Winning companies champion board diversity by having 20 percent or more of their board seats held by women.

“What that diversity brings is a difference of perspective and opinion,” Turner noted. “So around the board table, where you’re looking for broad perspectives and advice, our board is critically helpful to management teams and to the company. And I think it’s an area you’ll continue to see us work on because we recognize the benefits that we derive from that broad difference of perspectives.”

Most recently, Zhanna Golodryga, Chief Digital and Administrative Officer for Phillips 66, was appointed to serve on Regions’ Board of Directors effective January 1, 2019. Ms. Golodryga will serve on the Compensation and Human Resources Committee and the Risk Committee of the Board.

  1. Some of the greatest lessons on diversity and inclusion can come from our children.

Seeing the world through the eyes of his four children, Turner said, broadened his perspective over time.

“They are so much more willing to try things,” he said. “They are unbounded in a lot of ways.”

And, like their father, they keep an open perspective.

“They don’t see lines. They don’t see colors. They don’t see nationalities,” Turner said. “That’s just the way they were raised, the way they came up.”

And it inspires him to consistently evolve how he approaches any number of opportunities or challenges.

“I’ve learned to be a better listener,” Turner said of being a father. “I’ve learned that I have to think about different ways to communicate because they’re each different, and they process things differently, and they hear me differently.”

That, in turn, bolsters his passion to ensure Regions operates with diverse teams that are inclusive of people with different ideas.

“It also reminds me that, as you go through life, the way you saw something at 27 is remarkably different than the way you see it at 57,” he added.

  1. Diversity and inclusion leads to a stronger, healthier corporate culture.

Regions’ mission is to make life better for its customers, associates, communities and shareholders. Culture is key to accomplishing this mission. Turner credited his predecessor, Grayson Hall, for being “tremendously focused on associates, on people and on making life better for others,” which, in turn, has strengthened the overall workplace.

“We have a great culture, and everybody that’s here knows that,” Turner said. “Everybody that comes to work here observes that. But I do think we have an opportunity to always get better. And as we think about how we continuously improve, one of the ways we do that is to continue to build on the diverse and inclusive nature of our culture. That will make us that much stronger as a company.”

John Turner and Clara Green share a laugh during a lighthearted moment in the Conversations with Clara discussion, which focused on best practices in fostering greater diversity and inclusion throughout Regions Bank.

Regions is embracing ways to consistently foster greater diversity and inclusion.

“Our focus with the ‘Conversations with Clara’ series of discussions is furthering dialogue across the company about how both diversity and inclusion contribute to our performance, enhance our workplace and help us deliver greater service to our communities,” said Clara Green. “We serve people who come from different backgrounds and have a wide range of financial goals. As a company, we are committed to consistently building teams that are not only diverse but are also inclusive of the input, feedback and perspectives of people who bring a variety of skills, experiences and viewpoints to the table.”

The “Conversations with Clara” series will continue in 2019 with more open, honest discussions among Regions associates whose perspectives are strengthening the work of departments across the company. Green joined Regions in August 2018 to lead the Diversity and Inclusion Center of Expertise in Regions’ Human Resources Group. In her role, she is regularly identifying opportunities to incorporate more best practices of diversity and inclusion across all aspects of the company’s work cycle.