Most Powerful Women in Banking: No. 23, Fifth Third's Teresa Tanner

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Chief Administrative Officer, Fifth Third Bancorp

Teresa Tanner is not afraid to take decisive action.

After becoming Fifth Third’s chief administrative officer in 2015, she made big changes to its benefit plan, a move that challenged a long tradition of profit-sharing at the Cincinnati-based company.

The revised benefits include a retirement plan that increased the company’s 401(k) match, as well as a program that lets employees earn money as they practice healthy habits, which has proven popular.

Tanner also led the process to relaunch Fifth Third’s brand. A cheeky new advertising campaign focuses on customer satisfaction while also making light of the company’s quirky, numerical name — presenting it as a fraction, 5/3.

“We are required to put 166.7% into everything we do,” the star of one ad states.

Another initiative that Tanner spearheaded is Fifth Third’s maternity concierge program, which offers free assistance to pregnant employees and those with children up to age one. Employees can get help finding day care or planning a baby shower, for example.

The decision to provide help to new mothers was a response to the reality that women often drop out of the workforce around the time they have children. At Fifth Third, women make up 60% of the workforce, but account for just 23% of top executive and senior leadership posts.

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“We can do more, and we need to do more, to allow women a path to top leadership,” Tanner said.

Tanner began her career outside of the banking industry, and she learned early on the importance of being assertive. One formative experience came after observing a senior leader behaving inappropriately with women.

Despite pressure to stay quiet, Tanner decided to speak up, and the executive eventually left the company.

“It taught me a strong lesson that has been a guiding force for me for my entire career,” Tanner said. That lesson is “never let fear prevent you from doing what you know is right."

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