Corporate Spotlight – KeyBank, N.A.

By Danielle Linert, Giffen & Kaminski, LLC, Cleveland, OH

March, 2015

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyCorp is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $90 billion. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management and investment services to individuals, small and medium-sized business under the name KeyBank National Association. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name.

The attributes of inclusion, diversity, and respect that Key infuses within the organization have powerful outcomes. Key has found that these initiatives improve business performance, assist the organization to understand its customers, drive important investments in the community, and support job creation and economic development.

As part of Key’s overall business strategy, it committed to expanding mutually beneficial relationships with minority, women, veteran-owned and LGBT businesses. That commitment starts at the top with visible and strong support and leadership from KeyCorp’s Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Beth Mooney. Key’s comprehensive model for engaging with minority, women, veteran-owned and LGBT businesses reflects national best practices such as CEO/senior management involvement, outreach to diverse suppliers, Key’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Council and Diversity & Inclusion Council.

The Law Group has proven that Key’s initiatives on diversity and inclusion are part of the framework for success. Since 2004, Key has been a member of the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) Corporate and Public Entity Partnership Program. Additionally, since 2008 when NAMWOLF initiated levels of sponsorship, KeyBank has consistently committed to the highest level of sponsorship, achieving the Platinum Partner recognition – spending more than 5 percent of its legal budget with minority and women owned law firms. In 2014, KeyBank is one of only 11 companies at the Platinum Partner level. Key has also sponsored many of NAMWOLF’s annual meetings over the years.

In talking to Michelle DeShon, vice president and associate counsel for KeyBank; and NAMWOLF liaison, she is most proud of KeyBank’s platinum status. She is also proud of the fact that KeyBank is a two time recipient of NAMWOLF’s prestigious annual Diversity and Inclusion Award (2008 and 2012).

Diversity is near and dear to Michelle, who has served as a member of NAMWOLF’s Advisory Council for five years. Currently, Michelle serves as Chair of the newly formed Trade Organization Working Group which focuses on strengthening connections with other national organizations and local diverse associations. Michelle previously served on Key’s Supplier Diversity Advisory Council for 6 years. She is currently a member of Key’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. Michelle sees a synergy between Key’s diversity and inclusion initiatives and Key’s strong commitment to NAMWOLF through leadership, sponsorship, and participation.

When asked why diversification of outside counsel is important, Michelle stated “Key has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion and Key’s clients, co-workers and communities have confidence in Key as a responsible business partner. The use of diverse outside counsel is impactful and provides a measurable return on investment for Key.”

Key joined NAMWOLF as a corporate member to identify and connect with diverse law firms that have the scope and capabilities to meet Key’s litigation needs. Firms that understand Key’s culture and industry provide more valued guidance and counsel and become important partners to Key. Key is also actively involved with both local and national organizations focused on supplier diversity such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council. Relationships with diverse suppliers also enable Key to deliver exceptional products and services to clients and strengthen Key’s competitive advantage in its markets.

“Key is committed to expanding mutually beneficial relationships with minority, women, veteran and LGBT-owned businesses,” said Michelle. “These diverse relationships provide meaningful opportunities to business owners through fair competition and help build the economic wealth of the communities Key serves.”

As a responsible corporate citizen, Key is committed to helping communities thrive. Key’s supplier diversity and economic inclusion initiatives are foundational to that commitment and have a long history at Key. Supplier diversity is positioned as part of Key’s corporate vision and business strategy.

Evidence of Key’s successes are the many awards that Key has received from leading national and local organizations for its achievements in diversity and inclusion, including the following recent honors:

2014 Diversity Inc.’s Top 10 companies for Supplier Diversity
2014 Diversity Inc.’s Top 10 companies for Diversity Councils
2014 Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 companies for Diversity
2014 Black Employment and Entrepreneur Journal “Best of the Best” for Supplier Diversity
2014 Greater Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion Commission 50 Top Company
2014 Human Rights Campaign Best Companies for LGBT Equality
2014 Professional Woman’s Magazine “Best of the Best” for Top Finance and Banking Companies
Michelle stated that as is likely the case with most corporations, it can sometimes be challenging to identify minority, women, veteran and LGBT-owned law firms that have specific capabilities and services in Key’s financial industry. Michelle advises diverse law firms to build relationships with corporate in-house counsel and law departments by continuing regular communications and providing targeted information as to the specific practice areas and services of the law firm.

Danielle Linert is a Partner in Giffen & Kaminski’s Cleveland, Ohio office and has been practicing management-side employment law for nearly 20 years. She is the Co-Chair of NAMWOLF’s Labor & Employment PAC.