For several years, Zions Bank has monitored salaries to ensure women aren't being paid less than men for comparable work. Last year, the monitoring went from a semiannual review to a constant lookout.

The bank is "paying more and more attention" to this issue and is trying to respond quicker to any disparities that may arise, said Cristie Richards, Zions' executive vice president of premier wealth management. Previously, it would wait for the formal reviews, in which executive vice presidents receive reports every six months showing salaries among employees in each division, with recommendations for adjustments.

But in 2015 the bank publicly committed to take several steps to help women advance, including monitoring for pay gaps. "Making a public pledge really holds our feet to the fire," Richards said.

"It absolutely holds us more accountable and creates a community that has committed to these goals where we can share best practices and identify areas where we need to improve."

Zions is one of more than 90 companies to commit to the ElevateHER challenge, a project of the Women's Leadership Institute, a nonprofit that was conceived by two of the Salt Lake City bank's executives. (Zions also provided the seed money for the institute and recruited a former Utah state legislator, Patricia Jones, to run it.)

Aside from compensation reviews, ElevateHER asks companies to increase the percentage of females in senior jobs, the retention rate for women employees at all levels and the number of women on the board. Companies also pledge to establish leadership development and mentoring programs and to urge women to run for public office. Jones, the institute's CEO, is also a Zions director — providing additional boardroom oversight to ensure the bank honors its commitment.

Using practices like these matters not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it makes Zions a better bank, Richards said. People of varying backgrounds may raise different questions during a discussion. That adds value by pushing everyone to think differently and can change the outcome of a deliberation, Richards added.

"If we look at diversity and inclusion as a whole, it's very important to make sure everyone has a voice at the table," Richards said. "It provides a richness that comes with diversity of thought and talent. It helps us to think outside of what we have in the past."

Headquarters: Salt Lake City

2015 Financial highlights:
Assets: $15.5 billion
ROE: 10.34%
ROA: 1.15%

Female representation among corporate officers: 36%

Female representation on operating committee: 31%

The Team: Hope Butler, Jennifer Christopulos, Pamela Clark, Robyn Currah, Jackie Francis, Cory Gardiner, Melinda Haynes, Meghan Holbrook, Stephanie Horne, Dianne James, Merri Johnson, Susan Johnson, Susan Jones, Patricia "Pat" Jones, Monika Kaminski, Janet Louie, Gail Miller-Wilson, Ann Millner, Toni Nielsen, Heidi Prokop, Christine Redgrave, Cristie Richards, Rebecca Robinson, Ann Marie Thomas, Mary Pat Thompson, Kristy Walker, Ali Wilkinson

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.