Diversity Matters

Carbondale First Friday

Does diversity matter in business, where so often the focus is on the bottom line? Well for FirstBank, the answer is a resounding yes.

Women occupy nearly 65 percent of roles at Colorado’s largest bank, and 33 percent of its employees identify with a minority group.

Tony Oum, Senior Vice President of the bank’s Multicultural Banking Center (MBC), believes that community banking must be inclusive of the community it serves.

“If the population is 30 percent minority, our employee population should reflect that. And we must be in the community to make that happen. If we’re not in the community we’re not present, and we need to get out there and build those relationships.”

In addition to opening the MBC in Lakewood – a central hub for various communities to be served in their native language and with an understanding of their culture – FirstBank has released a powerful video that highlights its diverse population and culture of inclusivity.

“Faces of Diversity” features FirstBank employees of many races, creeds, cultural and social backgrounds, all of whom are banking for good every day. It’s a powerful reminder that diversity is a collection of people all working together for a common cause, and not just a demographic statistic.

Inclusion is Companywide

These diversity efforts aren’t just confined to its metropolitan markets in Denver and Phoenix, they are companywide.

Over half of FirstBank’s Roaring Fork employees identify as a minority group and nearly two-thirds of its leadership consists of women.

One of these employees is Kseniya Mamlin, Assistant Vice President at FirstBank in Carbondale.

“I was 11 years old when we emigrated from Ukraine to the United States.”

Initially settling the family in the sprawling metropolis of New York City, Kseniya’s father chased work opportunities in Montana and finally, Colorado. The family’s move to Denver was so sudden that they were without an apartment for three days.

“We stayed in Cherry Creek State Park for three nights while we looked for a place to stay,” said Mamlin.

“Our stuff was in a U-Haul and we were in a tent with our cat.”

Luckily they settled quickly, and these days when Kseniya sleeps in tents it’s strictly for fun. An avid hiker and skier, she’s fully embraced the outdoor lifestyle that Colorado’s pristine mountain towns offer.

That’s partly the reason that she welcomed the chance to help open the very first Carbondale FirstBank location in October 2019. Opened recently enough to still have a “new branch smell,” the Carbondale office has already rooted itself in the community by sponsoring Carbondale First Friday.

The monthly event celebrates the town’s rich arts scene promotes local businesses to locals and visitors alike.

“Our small Colorado community is incredibly connected with the outside world and to be successful you need to understand the world you live in,” Kseniya said. “Cultural exchanges such as these help with that understanding.”

Cultural Melting Pot

In many ways, Kseniya’s background reflects the world’s increasing connection and cultural understanding. She grew up speaking Russian and Ukrainian, added English, and is learning Spanish and Italian.

She’s embraced her love of travel and encourages others to expand their horizons even if that means embracing the cultural diversity right here at home.

“Having a multicultural background opens your eyes to the many different ways that people live their lives, and for a banker that’s important because you can’t be the bank for someone if you don’t understand their perspective.”

And that all begins with a conversation.

“Banking for good,” she says, “is really about listening to people.” 

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