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VOL. 130 | NO. 148 | Friday, July 31, 2015

First Tennessee Promotes Walker to Lead Diversity Efforts

By Andy Meek

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First Tennessee Bank has made a key executive promotion to help enhance the myriad diversity and inclusion efforts within the bank, among its customers and in the communities it serves.

Lynne Walker’s elevation to a newly created executive level position at First Tennessee – that of executive vice president of affinity banking strategies – also represents an expansion for the bank’s diversity efforts.

“When you have diversity for employees and customers, you’re a better run business as a result of that.”

–Lynne Walker

Previously, Memphis was given outsized attention in that regard. First Tennessee, though, now talks about diversity in a more expansive way. Under Walker – who was promoted from senior vice president of treasury management – it also includes everything from looking at employee inclusiveness statewide to making sure the bank is proactively serving black as well as other minority communities across its markets.

“We’re still assessing what that (strategy) looks like, but it’s really going to be throughout the entire organization,” said Walker, who will report to First Tennessee president of banking David Popwell.

She’ll also work closely with John Daniel, chief human resources officer for First Tennessee parent company First Horizon National Corp.

“I’ll be working in a more collaborative way with our executive management, with our leaders in each market, to institutionalize what we do,” Walker said. “It’s not just about making sure we have a diverse pipeline of talent we want to recruit from. You can’t stop there. We’ve got bring them in, promote them, train them, do leadership planning around them.

She said the same strategy would be applied externally.

“We have to make sure we have a pipeline of diverse prospects, that we’re courting those prospects, bringing them into the bank, supporting their business’ and their customers’ success,” she said.

Walker is a successor of sorts to Herman Strickland, the former senior vice president and diversity banking group leader who left the company in April. He was part of the first wave of hires announced by Nashville-based Pinnacle Financial Partners, which announced in April its entry into the Memphis market via a merger with Memphis-based Magna Bank.

Walker started her career more than three decades ago in treasury consulting in North Carolina, at what was then Wachovia Bank, now part of Wells Fargo. She also has managed a commercial banking team and managed training programs for corporate banking. She left banking briefly to work for a boutique CPA firm.

One of the things she did as a banker was run a specialized lending group that targeted minority- and female-owned businesses.

First Tennessee already has received numerous accolades for its diversity efforts. Some of the awards it’s received include being recognized in 2014 as a Top Ten Diversity Innovator in Profiles in Diversity Journal; a top diversity employer in Professional Women’s Multicultural Magazine in 2013 and 2014; and being named among the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women by the National Association for Female Executives five of the last seven years.

Walker has been with the bank for nine years now – five with its Mid-Atlantic group, moving to Memphis about four years ago.

“I feel really honored I was asked to step into this role, because it’s something that’s near and dear to my heart,” she said. “It’s a little intimidating, I’ll admit, because I’ve been charged to take an already great diversity and inclusion program for employees and customers to the next level and to all the markets we serve.

“It’s the kind of thing that I think forces any company to really make sure you’re following along with that culture and tradition. We know that when you have diversity for employees and customers, you’re a better run business as a result of that.”

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173