Web exclusive: Firms deliver on diversity

Tech tools are inefficient and outdated Concerns about the back-office staff Pension plans are big liabilities for firms In a country as diverse as Canada, it comes as no surprise that the deposit-taking institutions included in this year’s Report Card on Banks and Credit Unions are putting a significant focus on — and excelling at — providing an inclusive and diverse work environment. That was the message that financial advisors surveyed for this year’s Report Card are sending as they gave their employers a rating of 9.1 in the “firm’s diversity and inclusion strategy” category. That’s a slight bump from 9.0 last year, as well as the second highest overall average performance rating. Related news Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Clare O’Hara Share this article and your comments with peers on social media The reason for this is that many firms have placed an added emphasis on the issues concerning many of the cultural groups found within Canada, as well as on the issues affecting women, people with disabilities (both visible and non-visible), aboriginal people and people of all sexual orientations. For most of the firms in this year’s Report Card, their ratings in the diversity and inclusion category is among their top three; furthermore, every firm is outperforming their advisors’ expectations in this area. “It’s important to have a diversity and inclusion strategy at your workplace because we should be reflecting the community we are in,” says an advisor in Ontario with St. Catherines, Ont.-based Meridian Credit Union. “The bank has a diversified hiring strategy that has been implemented in the past few years which is great for helping clients who speak different languages,” adds an advisor in Atlantic Canada with Toronto-based Canadian Bank of imperial Commerce (CIBC). Toronto-based TD Canada Trust continues to be top-ranked firm in the category with a performance rating of 9.8. TD advisors spoke about the various initiatives the bank has undertaken in this area, including employee diversity courses, online questionnaires and emails tailored specifically toward improving the workplace for various minorities. “The bank is very inclusive and caring of people with disabilities,” says a TD advisor in Alberta. “Generally, we’re a group expected to fail or not be as good, and they provided me with a lot of training that gave me the ability to be one of their best.” At the executive level, TD launched a diversity leadership council in 2005. The council consists of 14 senior executives who meet every two months to discuss the issues facing minority groups. “Our focus is on how we can further accommodate [these groups] and be accessible, to them,” says John Tracy, senior vice president, retail savings and investment with TD. “We’re constantly striving in our diversity council to raise the bar on this and that’s what differentiates TD.” Meanwhile, both Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Bank of Nova Scotia (both based in Toronto) saw big improvements in their diversity ratings this year, with BMO’s rising to 9.1 from 8.6 in 2012 and Scotiabank’s increasing to 9.4 from 9.0. “The inclusion strategy is tremendous,” says a Scotiabank advisor in Ontario. “We’ve had 12 languages being spoken in our branch at one point.” Scotiabank set a global diversity and inclusion strategy that has been applied to all its operations across the world. The strategy focuses on five core elements, including: a committed leadership; enabling diverse talent; employee communications; engaging communities; and engaging employees. “Our strategy is about recognizing the unique contributions that each employee brings to the workplace and leveraging those contributions,” says Alice Eastman, senior vice president, customer experience and distribution strategy, with Scotiabank. “Employees aren’t all the same and nor do we want them to be all the same.” Since 2000, Scotiabank has implemented employee resources groups in which employees with common ground are able to come together and network with one another. One of the first groups to be established was Scotiabank Universal Access, which allows employees dealing with accessibility barriers in the workplace to come together. Today, the bank has nine groups in total including the Scotiabank Aboriginal Network and Scotiabank Pride. Toronto-based Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has a similar strategy of connecting employees who may be facing similar challenges; to that effect, it has recently launched several programs through a web-based platform. In 2011, the bank introduced Diversity Moments, web-based vignettes that help increase knowledge of diversity and inclusion issues among employees. RBC employees can also access an online class to improve English-speaking skills and a self study e-learning module that focuses on recruiting diverse talent; how to resolve diversity-related conflicts; and communicating with people from other cultures. As for BMO, even though it has the most improved rating in the category, advisors feel the bank still has work to do when it comes to its overall diversity strategy. “Diversity is lacking in the bank as a whole,” says a BMO advisor from Alberta. Adds a colleague in Ontario: “I don’t see a whole lot of diversity outside of gender. The majority of people in banks now are women.” Investment Executive approached BMO executives about these concerns, but they declined to comment. This is a web exclusive addition to the 2013 Report Card on Banks & CUs in the July 2013 issue of Investment Executive. Keywords Diversity,  Report Card on Banks Firms need to be more receptive 2013 Report Card on Banks & CUs main chart read more