GUEST BLOG POST | Previous GIrl Banker of the Week, Liz Lancaster McIntyre, Director of Social Media and PR at Renasant Bank, has been busy. She recently helped launch a women-focused initiative at Renasant that was essentially her brainchild. Her passion for this project deserves recognition and I'm proud to host her as a guest blogger on the Girl Banker! My background isn’t in banking. Although I grew up with a father who has worked in the banking industry for more than 20 years, I never knew what he actually did for a living. Exactly a year ago, March 2018, I joined Renasant Bank as Social Media Manager. After attending ABA Bank Marketing School, I called my dad and said, “Guess what… I know what you do for a living! We can now talk ‘bank lingo’ together!” When I told friends and family that I would be working for a bank, they were all pretty surprised because my experience had been in hospitality marketing. They were all curious if working for a bank would be as enjoyable for me as working for restaurants and hotels had been. I was curious about this as well, which is one of the reasons I took the job. I was eager to learn something new. And not to mention my now boss, John Oxford, Director of Marketing for Renasant, had an insane amount of energy while talking to him on the phone. I knew this wasn’t going to be your typical bank job experience. Within the first six months of working for Renasant, I had several conversations with my marketing team and others in financial marketing about women and diversity in the banking industry. John called me into his office one day and said “I’ve been hearing you have these conversations. I hear you… and I think you’re the one who needs to take this, do something with it, and drive it home.” Since given the green light, we have been tirelessly working on creating a program that would not only influence the women in the bank, but also the women that we serve every day. That is how our new initiative, Rise with Renasant, was born. Rise with Renasant is a women’s professional leadership program that consists of three initiatives - 1) internal professional development for women who work at Renasant, 2) promoting external professional development and opportunities for women entrepreneurs, and 3) outreach to young women to promote leadership and careers in banking and business. This program was developed with the idea that it would be powered by women for women. The first initiative, internal professional development, is for women who work for Renasant Bank. More than 70% of Renasant associates are women. We, the banking industry, need to create opportunities to help develop professional growth, which will in turn help women grow professionally. Why not kick this off within our own organization? Thus our first initiative is internal. With the help of HR, we are developing a women’s professional development series that will feature programs focused on professional growth, success, and peer networking. We are also planning to have a Rise with Renasant conference in the future that will give our women employees all over our footprint the chance to network and grow internal relationships. The second initiative is developing and sharing external professional programs to benefit women entrepreneurs and women in business within the communities we serve. Tracey Morant Adams, Chief Community Development & Corporate Social Responsibility Officer for Renasant (who I like to call Wonder Woman), has developed a program series called ‘The Nest’ - a platform geared towards effective business development and financial technical assistance for women-owned business leaders. This program will aid in the professional and financial development of women entrepreneurs designed to educate and encourage women to intentionally plan and prepare their financial well being. Get it? “Nest egg?” Other external programs we hope to get involved with are women leadership conferences and women in business seminars all over the Renasant footprint. We want Renasant to support women’s voices and give our associates opportunities to get out in their communities and find success. Lastly, the part I am most passionate, is a plan for Renasant women to visit schools to speak with girls about their futures. We want girls to see that women can work in banking, business, and finance in so many different positions – marketing, human resources, analytics, technology, customer service, etc. Along with talking about their professional futures, we also want to encourage girls to transition from the popular culture idea of “mean girls” to the idea of “girls supporting girls” culture. Let’s get rid of cyber bullying and negative social media by encouraging and supporting one another online instead. When Renasant women visit the schools together and show support for one another, we can influence their ideas of supporting one another instead of being competitive and jealous. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed! I am so thankful to be part of a company who vocally supports this initiative. Stepping into the banking industry, I had no idea what to expect. Instead of experiencing the bank stereotypes of being old-fashioned, stuffy, and boring, I have been blown away at Renasant’s passion to drive forward and grow. My boss, our marketing team, and the entire Renasant family have been supportive of this idea every step of the way. The trend of ‘banking on women’ is just the beginning of something great happening within the banking culture. We still have so much work to do. What can you do to support your fellow girl bankers in your company? Let’s rise together! Liz Lancaster McIntyre serves as the Director of Social Media and PR at Renasant Bank, a $12.8 billion community bank with over 190 banking, lending, wealth management and financial services offices in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.