The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) celebrated its 3rd annual ElevateHER Challenge luncheon Tuesday in the Zions Bank Founder’s Room.

WLI’s ElevateHER Challenge, a corporate challenge providing specific research-based steps, has been adopted by more than 150 organizations from across the state of Utah. These organizations have formally taken the pledge to elevate the stature of women’s leadership within their unique culture – and it’s making a difference.

Since the organization first launched in January 2015, WLI has focused on getting more women into leadership roles – both in organizations and in politics. Research shows that organizations with a critical mass of women on boards and in executive positions significantly out-perform those with fewer numbers of women.

 “The Women’s Leadership Institute is enhancing the lives of women in the state by encouraging more business leaders to bolster leadership opportunities and pay equity for women in Utah,” said Scott Anderson, Zions Bank’s president and CEO.  “What’s exciting is that WLI offers concrete steps that organizations can take to enhance the role of their female employees, which not only helps them identify rising talent but also helps them nurture top performers.  And many studies show that businesses can be more successful when more women have a seat at the table.”

“Since taking the ElevateHER Challenge in 2015, Zions Bank has been actively evaluating leadership opportunities for women in our organization,” said Anderson. “Specifically, we’ve increased the number of women who serve on our advisory board and have strengthened our leadership development and mentoring programs for up-and-coming women officers. We also continue to monitor pay equity among employees by gender every six months and proactively work to increase our retention rate among female leaders.”

The keynote speaker for the luncheon was Barbara Annis, a world-renowned expert on inclusive leadership, corporate culture, and gender issues, and the founder and CEO of Gender Intelligence Group, which advocates for gender intelligence in Fortune 500 companies and global organizations. Her work has pioneered a transformational shift in how to leverage gender differences to achieve organizational success.

Dee O’Donnell, the Utah Regional President with Wells Fargo Community Banking sponsored Ms. Annis. “I had the opportunity to attend a Wells Fargo session with Barbara last year. Her seminar gave us insight and tools that we could use immediately to optimize diverse gender communication and foster inclusive relationships. Barbara makes learning fun and engaging.  Wells Fargo and the Women’s Leadership Institute were thrilled to bring Barbara Annis to Utah.“