2021 Indiana 100: Attorney-turned-HR officer works to diversify bank

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Kania Lottie
Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis
senior vice president, chief human resources  and diversity and inclusion officer

Kania Lottie, 39, spent the first part of her career as an attorney before a lunchtime conversation several years ago set her on another path.

At the time, Lottie was serving as assistant general counsel at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, where she’d held a variety of legal positions since 2008.

During a 2015 lunch with the bank’s president and CEO, Cindy Konich, and its then-human resources director, Lottie told them how much she enjoyed working on human resources and employment-law issues. She thought it was a casual conversation, but her colleagues had something else in mind.

“They literally brought it up during a lunch conversation and one thing led to another because, what I didn’t know was, my predecessor was looking to retire soon,” Lottie recalled.

That conversation led to a job offer in the bank’s human resources department. She now serves as the bank’s chief human resources and diversity and inclusion officer. She’s also one of three ethics officers at the bank.

(IBJ photo/Eric Learned)

Banking is not very diverse. Why?

Many people think banking is very conservative and even boring. Now, that doesn’t impact only diverse individuals, but I think just in general … when people hear “banking,” it’s not something attractive, it’s not something that sounds exciting. And many people aren’t familiar with the Federal Home Loan Bank, either, on top of that.

So that can be a challenge for us sometimes.

Also, when you’re talking about diversity, people want to see people that look like them. And many times, you don’t see that in financial services. Or, if you do see it, maybe it stops at a certain level, maybe at middle management. … So, even when we get some of that diversity, if they’re not seeing the promotions and advancements happening at higher levels and seeing people who look like them advancing in the organization, many times that’s discouraging. So, that can result in retention issues.

Organizations, and financial services in particular, have to be much more intentional about understanding what those challenges are and why [people] aren’t staying.

What has the bank done to successfully promote diversity and inclusion?

We do have some minorities in leadership. I think that’s encouraging for others within the bank. People are able to see other minorities and females in higher levels within the organization.

We had the first female president and CEO in the entire Federal Home Loan Bank system. I think that was encouraging for the organization. … Our CEO was the first and only for several years. I think that sent a message to the organization that our board and our bank—we’re willing to be different.

What does a bank’s ethics officer do?

[Handles] any matters that come up related to our code of conduct or complaints that may arise within the organization—any ethics-related inquiries or investigations, if you will. There are three ethics officers at the bank. And because we’re heavily regulated, there are certain policies we have in place or certain processes.

Just to give an example, maybe the code of conduct says you can’t hold stock with a member [bank], or you can’t get more than $500 in entertainment or gifts from a vendor. So, someone might reach out to say, “Hey, I attended a conference; they gave me a free handbag. Am I allowed to accept it?” So, that would be something the ethics officers would evaluate and respond to the employee.

Or if someone says, “Hey, I’ve been asked to speak at a conference, based on my role here at the bank. They want to pay me X amount of dollars. Am I permitted to accept this?”

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love to travel. So, my husband and I—we’ve been married since 2017 but together since 2013—since day one, we have always traveled. So that’s kind of our thing, you know—get away or unwind and de-stress.

Do you have any big trips planned for this year?

We do. We have a trip to Aruba that we’ve put off, I think, twice already now because of the pandemic. Luckily, they’ve been flexible. We are in the process now of trying to get that rescheduled. I’m looking forward to that.•

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