As October 11th & 12th draws near, we find ourselves reflective and grateful for the support and association, this important event has assembled. Whether you are a donor, or a nonprofit, don’t miss your chance to participate in and contribute to, the GIVE conversation. There is still time to register. This week, GIVE is proud to highlight its association with Zions Bank. We know you will enjoy the reflections of one of Utah’s great corporate citizens.

By Rob Brough, EVP Corporate Marketing and Communications, Zions Bank

This year, Zions Bank is marking the centennial anniversary of the birth of Zions Bancorporation’s founder, the late Roy W. Simmons.  It’s a time for us to reflect on how his vision has created a foundation for the company’s success.  Long before corporate social responsibility became a buzzword, Roy demonstrated that a company’s achievements are directly tied to bringing value to the community.

Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, Roy believed a company can grow the community as it grows.  He knew corporate social responsibility can have a halo effect that enhances the market it serves while also boosting employee engagement and retention.

Today, Zions Bank continues his legacy.  But we are not the only company to recognize how philanthropy, service and advocacy can make a difference. Since 2012, Bloomberg has partnered with the National Conference on Citizenship to create an annual survey of businesses involved in corporate social responsibility, ranking the top 50 companies known as the Civic 50 for their socially minded investments, integration of efforts into their business model and impact.  Of these trailblazing businesses:

  • 78% featured community engagement on their department scorecards
  • 56% formalized community engagement as a part of employees’ performance reviews
  • 62% said they took a leadership position on four or more national public policy advocacy efforts; and
  • 50% use community engagement to bolster skill development for employees.

Like the Civic 50, Zions Bank builds corporate social responsibility into its core values. In fact, one of our Guiding Principles is: “We want to be actively engaged in important community issues and to help provide a creative solution to community needs.”

Building a Culture of Giving

Part of the job description of the bank’s branch managers includes “being actively involved in the community.” Managers are typically involved in their local chambers of commerce, Rotary and Lions Clubs, and other civic and political organizations at leadership levels. Several branch managers hold positions as city mayors, council members, and on local school boards. The community service requirement helps them generate new business through community contacts while also building their status as a trusted local financial expert.  

Managers remain the point of contact with businesses in their communities and recommend local membership in the bank’s Regional Advisory Boards. Made up of diverse community leaders representing business, civic and educational interests, the boards meet at least twice a year with senior management to discuss needs specific to their community.  By staying involved in their communities, employees gain mindshare that can lead to market share.

In 2015, Zions Bank made more than $2 million dollars in charitable contributions to nonprofits in the communities it serves.  A supporter of the arts, sports, and cultural events, Zions Bank also supported a variety of organizations through more than $3 million in sponsorships.

Zions Bank contributed to hundreds of individual organizations through donations and sponsorships. The bank makes contributions in the following categories: affordable housing, arts and culture, community service or community development, economic or business development, education, and health and medical services.

But the best part is, the leadership our company demonstrates in giving back is mirrored by its generous employees. There are 1,800 employees who work for Zions Bank in Utah, and a total of 5,963 Utah employees who are part of its parent company, Zions Bancorporation.  These employees drive the engine of giving through their community involvement and volunteerism.

Employees in every corner of the state take an active role in giving to their communities. In 2015, Zions Bank’s employees donated an estimated 100,000 hours toward community projects.  Employees served on more than 150 different nonprofit boards and committees. Employees also generously donated more than $785,000 of their personal funds to the United Way, Junior Achievement, and the Utah Food Bank in 2015 alone.

On National Teach Children to Save Day in April 2016, more than 70 Zions bank employees presented lessons to 4,700 students throughout Utah and Idaho. Additionally, 28 bankers taught nearly 2,660 high school students the perks and pitfalls of credit on National Get Smart About Credit Day in October 2015.

Our model demonstrates that clients are proud to do business with a bank that is engaged in the community.  This is becoming more important as companies try to attract talent from the millennial generation while also trying to gain some of the demographics’ attractive share of wallet.

Millennial consumers and employees report that their employment decisions and purchase decisions correlate to a company’s corporate social responsibility, according to a 2014 Nielsen survey.

Building Employee Loyalty through Giving

Numerous studies confirm that corporate social responsibility boosts employee morale and engagement, including several cited in a white paper commissioned by Mandrake.

One survey finds that corporate social responsibility is the third-most-important driver of employee engagement and retention, according to a 2007-2008 Towers Perrin Global Workforce report.

We see how this phenomenon plays out at Zions Bank in the form of employee loyalty.

Our employees know it makes a difference to give of their time and talents to their local neighborhoods.  According to Zions Bank’s employee survey company Allegiance Technologies, 90 percent of employees believe Zions Bank makes worthwhile contributions to the community.

Engaged employees who are encouraged to be a part of their community are content to stay with an organization.

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the median number of years wage and salary workers have been with their current employer is 4.6 years. This number is slightly higher for those working in financial services, with an average tenure of 5 years. However, Zions Bank’s average employee tenure is 8.1 years — well above the national average.  Employees who feel like they can contribute to the broader community are more likely to stay in their job.

Boosting Camaraderie Among Colleagues

One of the ways we encourage community involvement is through our annual Paint-a-Thon service project. Over the last 26 years, Zions Bank employees have rallied their spouses and family members to roll up their sleeves on weeknights and Saturdays during the bank’s annual Paint-a-Thon service project.  It is estimated that 31,380 volunteers have served the project over the course of its history.

Each summer a number of low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners are selected across Utah and Idaho to have the exterior of their homes painted and repaired.  In addition to painting, Zions employee volunteers provide yard clean-up, pruning, mowing, planting and minor repairs as needed by homeowners.  The cost for all paint and supplies is contributed by Zions Bank.

In 2016, 44 homes received “makeovers” from Zions Bank volunteers, marking the 1,090th home spruced up over the course of the service project’s rich history.  The average age of the homeowner who benefitted this year was 77 years old, with a monthly income of $1,803.

Zions Bank has been recognized for its service to seniors and the broader community.  It has received Utah’s Best of State awards in the categories of Corporate Giving, Community Development and Best Employer multiple times.  Zions Bank believes its efforts to encourage employees to volunteer enhance the experience of its employees. It has also been recognized among American Banker magazine’s Best Banks to Work For list annually from 2013-2016 in part because of its efforts to foster community involvement among employees.