A sense of common purpose is evident in Zions' approach to employee relations, and it's drawing kudos from constituencies not typically known for a love of the industry.

One example: a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which Zions' diversity officer, Margarita Angelo, was tapped to accept in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 26. The award is in recognition of her work managing the bank's 12-week internship program to help military veterans find employment after serving the country.

The program, founded in 2011 and modeled after Zions' college internships, has been completed by 50 veterans, half of whom now work at the Salt Lake City-based bank in departments such as risk management, commercial lending, human resources and small-business lending. The program's job-search assistance has helped 19 others find positions elsewhere, including at Goldman Sachs, the Social Security Administration and E-Trade. Some other graduates have gone on to pursue higher-education degrees.

"We've had a terrific success rate in working with veterans who have a lot of good experience but don't have the right degrees or training outside of the military," says Zions President and CEO Scott Anderson. The program is emblematic of Zions' emphasis on community outreach, which Anderson says is largely driven by its female executives.

"These women officers are great bankers, and they're also community activists," he says. "They have a real desire to create value not only for our customers, but also for the communities in which we operate. They sit on school boards. They're mayors. One of them, Luz Robles [vice president of Zions Bank's community development group], is running for Congress right now."

The leadership among Zions' female officers has won praise from actress and activist Geena Davis, who applauded small-business banking head Lori Chillingworth and retail banking executive LeeAnne Linderman for work supporting small-business owners and nonprofits. "Zions Bank's senior-level women exude influence in their communities," Davis wrote in a nomination letter for this team award.

Communality also informs Zions' best practices, says Anderson. The bank is in its second year of a shared accountability policy that makes everyone — from executive management to business unit heads — responsible for goals across departments. The intent is to incentivize collaboration, Anderson explains. To that end, Zions now ties part of its employees' bonuses to regional and cross-team goals. "We're looking for closer cooperation and sharing of ideas and results," he says.

Salt Lake City

2013 Financial Highlights:
Assets: $17.8 billion
ROE: 12.58%
ROA: 1.27%

Female representation among corporate officers: 40%

Female representation on operating committee: 36%

The Team: Margarita Angelo, Bonnie Blood, Keely Bradshaw, Hope Butler, Julie Castle, Chantel Chase, Lori Chillingworth, Jennifer Christopulos, Debbie Corless, Karia Eschler, Janet Fisher, Kim Fritzler, Cory Gardiner, Kristine Goddard, Chelle Gordon, Melisse Grey, Melinda Haynes, Christine Hayward, Stephanie Horne, Dianne James, Gena Jones, Susan Jones, Rebecca Kearns, Danae Klimes, Maria Kranski, LeeAnne Linderman, Crystal Low, Becky McSpadden, Cecelia Mitchell, Andrea Mos, Toni Nielsen, Elaine O'Connell, Nancy Olson, Jaime Pack, Heidi Prokop, Christine Redgrave, Cristie Richards, Rebecca Robinson, Kathy Thomas, Elizabeth Whisamore, Gloria Wilkinson, Monica Williams

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