SALT LAKE CITY — Zions Bancorp. will amend its equal employment opportunity and employee code of conduct to include sexual orientation and gender identity in advance of its annual shareholder meeting next month, an official said.
The decision is a reversal of the 10-member board's original response to a request from a group of shareholders represented by the New York City comptroller.
"Initially, the board had concerns about the legal consequences of naming specific classes that aren't currently identified by law," said Rob Brough, executive vice president of Zions Bank. "Subsequent to that, it became clear that position was being misunderstood."
Brough called the Salt Lake City-based bank's policies "very broad and strong" but said board members worried their original recommendation would be "misunderstood."
"The reality is Zions Bank simply doesn't tolerate employee discrimination for any reason," he said. "While we believe the current nondiscrimination policy protects employees … the board and management felt adding this more specific language serves to reinforce the message."
Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah, said she was part of a group that met with Zions President Scott Anderson about the proposed change.
"Zions was very clear in their standpoint that they do not support discrimination for any reason," Balken said. "I'm very excited that they have decided to amend the policy."
The shareholder group that initiated the change held about 23,000 shares, or about .01 percent of the total shares, Brough said.
The company's annual shareholder meeting will be held May 28.
The regional bank's decision comes on the heels of a Salt Lake City ordinance aimed at protecting the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community against discrimination in housing and employment.
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