Celebrating Progress: Beth Mooney, CEO and Chairman of KeyBank
This year, Key4Women® celebrates 15 years of progress being made to advance women and minorities. Through advocacy, connections, and empowerment, Key4Women supports the financial progress of business women. And for KeyBank, it starts at the top.
Beth Mooney, Chairman and CEO of KeyBank, knows the value of hard work. She has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, and in that time she has broken nearly every glass ceiling that existed.
Here, Mooney shares her insights on the progress women have made, the work that is still left to be done, and how Key4Women contributes to the journey.
- Leaders have an obligation to boldly embrace diversity and inspire inclusiveness.
- One milestone of success is to leave a place better than you found it.
- We all have the responsibility to carry as we climb.
Impact of Key4Women
Beth Mooney has seen the growth and impact of Key4Women since it began.
"I’ve been here for 14 of the 15 years of Key4Women’s journey, and I can give testament to the power of the organization and what it has done to help support and transform communities and help business formation for women and underserved populations, and ultimately their ability to succeed and thrive," Mooney said.
Mooney explains that making programs and resources such as Key4Women available is imperative to helping close the gaps in business opportunities, access to capital, confidence, support, resources, and networking – all things that are indicators of success. "Not only do people get access to KeyBank’s resources, financial experts, and programs…it helps them to develop skills to be successful. And just as important, it gives a network of other business women that members can look to for guidance and support."
Mooney acknowledges that we all need a resource where we can continually get feedback – or a "personal board of directors," as she refers to it. Networks and perspectives like those that Key4Women provide help to plan, execute, and align your efforts.
Celebrating Progress and Acknowledging the Remaining Work
Mooney notes that it is important to celebrate the progress we’ve made, and that there are many more opportunities for women today than there were even just 15 years ago.
"As I look across our company and the landscape of business ownership, I realize that we have all come a long way," Mooney said. "Yet I won’t sugar coat that there is still progress that needs to be made."
The world has changed over the course of the generation, and Mooney is an example of that change. And she acknowledges that the only reason it changed was that people gave it a chance.
When Mooney began her career, she describes that the way women got ahead in the world was by walking in, taking their seat at the table, and acting like they belonged. It was one part having the moxie to sit down and one part having someone open the door.
But to even act like they belonged, women needed someone to give them a chance to be in the room. And because Mooney was given that chance, she feels strongly about making the most of her position and influence by lifting others up and carrying as she climbs.
"It’s important for all of us who are in a position where we can influence and lift people up, that we carry while we climb," Mooney explains. "I think the evolution of leadership, and our efforts to be supportive of female leaders and diverse leaders and their allies has helped create those opportunities."
And now our current leaders are the stewards of those opportunities for the next generation. We have the obligation to create a diverse and inclusive culture in our businesses and communities. And we all have the obligation to carry as we climb.
The Personal Side of Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity is a performance accelerator. Diverse companies are more profitable and productive. And inclusive cultures are values-based, authentic, and respectful. This creates a collaborative culture committed to a safe and respectful environment.
Mooney has a strong belief that leaders – women and men – have an obligation to ensure that diversity and inclusion are part of their business strategies and embedded in their cultures. And as a diverse leader, she says that she has a special obligation to do that and to do her job well for all who will follow.
She says, "Each and every one of us share a commitment to cast a shadow about what is important and being able to model that not only to each other but to our communities. I believe we must lift each other up, and I believe we must lift up our peers and our communities every single day."
An example of the importance and impact of diversity and inclusion herself, Mooney’s seat at the table made history at KeyBank and across the financial services industry. However, the KeyBank Board of Directors didn’t set out to make history – they set out to find the best person for the job. For them, the fact that they chose a woman CEO was secondary to the fact that they believe they chose the best person for the job.
"From this experience, I learned that the world is a fundamentally fair place," Mooney reflected. "Because for them, diversity was not a discussion point or an item on some checklist – it was unspoken table stakes."
Looking to the future, Mooney envisions a culture where we invest in the growth of diverse talent, where we make sure opportunities are given to those most fit for the job, and where capital is extended to people who can start and grow successful businesses in our community – which is why Key4Women is so important.
The Right Time to Move Forward
On May 1, 2020, Mooney will step into the next phase of her career – retirement.
The decision to retire is not an easy one, but there is a goodness in doing the right thing at the right time and passing on a company to a new set of leaders who will take it to the next level. It’s important to be clear and decisive about direction, values, and purpose.
When asked what she is most proud of during her time as CEO, Mooney speaks to the change she has seen. "When I reflect on our company – how it has grown and how its changed – one of the things I am proudest of, is we are not just a bigger company, we are a better company," Mooney said. "I have long held the view that I wanted to leave the company behind better than when I inherited it. I think that is one of the milestones of success. And I can say I am proud to leave behind a company known for being a strong performer, a responsible bank, a responsible citizen, and that we are known for our award-winning culture of Diversity and Inclusion."
Mooney is proud to be a banker and to do the noble work it requires. She says, "Coming to KeyBank has been the most rewarding chapter of my career, because I believe we make people’s dreams come true, and we make a mark and a difference with our clients and our communities. And I can think of nothing I would be prouder to say was my life’s work."