Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2017):
- Desjardins Group supports new parents with maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers (to 95% of salary for 18 weeks) and parental leave top-up for new fathers and adoptive parents (to 95% for 12 weeks) -- head office employees can also take advantage of an onsite daycare centre
- In addition to 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Desjardins Group offers employees up to 5 paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at employees' discretion
- True to its raison d'être, Desjardins Group is an incredible corporate citizen, investing over $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships in the past year
Desjardins offers balance beyond the bottom line
Originally trained in aerospace design, Michael Kennedy later became a consultant and spent a lot of time in airports, travelling to meet with clients and working long hours. But when he and his wife started a family five years ago, he was ready to touch down with a company that offered a less stressful lifestyle. "I was looking around for something that would make more sense from a work-life balance point of view," says the Senior Advisor, Strategy and Corporate Performance, in the Mississauga office of Lévis, Que.-based Desjardins Group.
For Kennedy, it's been a happy landing at Desjardins, Canada's largest financial services cooperative. The company's generous benefits are designed to be family friendly, beginning with maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers to 95 per cent of salary for 18 weeks, and parental leave top-up payments for new fathers and adoptive parents to 95 per cent of salary for 12 weeks. Head office employees can also take advantage of an onsite daycare centre.
Vacation time starts at three weeks, and Desjardins Group offers up to five paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at the employee's discretion.
But balance is by no means boring. Desjardins Group is a dynamic company that has grown well beyond its Quebec roots. The 116-year-old firm has established a strong presence across much of Canada through its operations in consumer and commercial banking, investing, and insurance. With assets of $248.1 billion, it's one of the best capitalized banks in North America. And with the completion of its purchase of State Farm Canada in early 2015, it became the second largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada.
That makes for a challenging and stimulating work environment. "It's an exciting time," says Kennedy. "It's definitely among the top employers in terms of positivity and family support, while still being high-performing - so it's kind of cool that way."
Desjardin's culture of service begins with happy employees, says Marc-André; Malboeuf, Vice-President, HR Centre of Expertise. "A higher level of employee engagement has a direct impact on higher customer appreciation," he notes.
The annual employee engagement survey keeps Desjardins in touch with the needs of employees. Based on the results, the company targets two areas for improvement each year, and consults with employee focus groups to design the best action plan. It works to optimize the employee experience through seven key aspects of their careers, including their orientation as new recruits, training, performance evaluation, job transitions and retirement planning. "One of our key slogans is, 'Your talent is moving us forward,'" says Malboeuf.
As a co-operative, community service is planted deep in Desjardins' DNA. The company was founded in 1908 by Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins to help lower-income Québecois, in particular, to meet their financial needs. It consistently places high in rankings of Canada's most socially responsible companies. In the past year alone, Desjardins Group and the Desjardins Foundation have invested more than $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships.
That dedication to the community helps make Desjardins a meaningful place to work, says Kennedy. "Our whole reason for being is to contribute back to people," he observes. "When you think of what you do, that's a real feel-good element."
Kennedy also enjoys the company's Quebec roots and its diverse workforce. Increasing diversity and advancing women are key priorities for Desjardins Group going forward, says Malboeuf. "We're all about openness and inclusion," he adds. "We want to be a front-line player in our changing society because we know it will bring strength and richness to our organization."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Desjardins Group manages a Young Intern Officer program for individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, allowing them to work as a member of the Board of Directors or the Board of Supervision of a Desjardins caisse for a 1-year period -- program participants also engage with committees and commissions on ideas to better serve younger co-op members
- To help young people gain employment experience, Desjardins Group created the Desjardins Youth Work Experience program to provide summer jobs for participants between the ages of 15 and 18 -- the program was developed in partnership with Carrefour jeunesse-emploi and local businesses, with Desjardins offering financial support to facilitate internships
- Desjardins Group maintains a Young Executives Network for managers under the age of 35 -- the network organizes a number of activities for members including an annual conference with workshops and senior-level speakers, a networking cocktail hour, monthly newsletters and community involvement initiatives
At Desjardins, community spirit is in the DNA
Helen Lialias loves getting together with her department colleagues from Desjardins Group every few months to catch up on things and forge closer ties. But they're not your usual social gatherings at a local restaurant or pub, says the 31-year-old Marketing Communications Advisor with Canada's largest financial services cooperative.
Recently, they planted trees not far from their office in Mississauga, Ont. And on another occasion, the group helped prepare the meal for a local food bank's annual charity dinner.
Lialias, who joined Desjardins in December 2015, says the company's community focus has made working there especially meaningful. "As a co-op, that's one of their core values - to give back," says the York University grad, who combines her anthropology degree with a public relations certificate from Humber College and a digital marketing management certificate from the University of Toronto. "The community work we do is really fulfilling, and allows you to get out with your team and learn about things besides your daily responsibilities."
The company's emphasis on community and customers has helped create a very supportive environment among co-workers. "I love my team," says Lialias. "They bring a lot of expertise and knowledge that have helped me grow."
And from her department manager to President and CEO Guy Cormier, leaders at Desjardins are committed to helping employees succeed, adds the Toronto native. "As a young person, it's important to have strong mentors and strong leaders to help you grow," she observes. "They promote innovation and perseverance. That's something that inspires me in my work every day."
Younger employees are essential to Desjardins' future success, says Marie-Huguette Cormier, Executive Vice-President, Human Resources and Communications. "To keep them, we need to give them what they're looking for, and that's why we're innovating in the ways that we reach out to this group," she explains.
"We've been working hard to offer young employees a stimulating environment, career- and skill-development programs," she says, "as well as the latest tools for a rich, varied and rewarding career with Desjardins."
Those offerings include a Young Intern Officer program for employees between 18 and 30, which allows them to work as a member of the Board of Directors or the Board of Supervision of a Desjardins branch for one year. Participants also sit on a variety of committees within the company to bring forward new ideas to serve younger colleagues and customers - referred to as members.
Desjardins Group also launched a Young Executives Network for managers under the age of 35. The group organizes a number of activities and services for members, including an annual conference with workshops and senior-level speakers, a networking cocktail hour, a monthly newsletter, and community activities.
To help secondary school students gain employment experience, the cooperative created the Desjardins Youth Work Experience, which provides summer jobs to young people between the ages of 15 to 18. The program was developed in partnership with the Quebec government's Carrefour jeunesse-emploi youth employment initiative and local businesses, with Desjardins offering financial support to facilitate internships.
After working previously in communications roles in the retail sector and for an education technology startup, Lialias says she appreciates the better work-life balance at Desjardins and its competitive benefits package. Vacation time starts at three weeks, and employees can take up to five paid personal days each year, which can be scheduled at their discretion.
She also likes the company's Quebec roots. Founded by Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins in 1908 to help low-income Québecois meet their financial needs, Desjardins Group today has a strong presence across much of Canada through its operations in consumer and commercial banking, investing, and insurance. It consistently places high in rankings of Canada's most socially responsible companies, and in the past year alone, has invested more than $81 million in the broader community through sponsorships, scholarships and philanthropic partnerships.
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 20, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement des caisses Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2017):
- Desjardins Group encourages employees to utilize alternative forms of transportation through a number of initiatives -- over 1,040 Desjardins Group employees have registered with the organization's carpooling website since it was first established in 2011, approximately 155 employees utilize the "Communauto" car-sharing service, and more than 230 employees receive discounts on bike sharing programs in Toronto and Montréal
- Desjardins Group maintains a number of longstanding initiatives to recycle as much as possible including donating used office furniture to schools and non-profit organizations, proper recycling or reuse of used computer equipment, and the ongoing "Paper Challenge" to reduce paper consumption by 10 percent by 2018 and increase the use of recycled papers by 10 percent, also by 2018
- Desjardins Group introduced special financing rates for members who purchase new hybrid and electric vehicles as well as discounts on insurance rates (up to 20 percent for electric vehicle purchases) -- similarly, home buyers who purchase LEED certified homes or commercial properties are eligible for discounts on property insurance (up to 10 percent)
Desjardins Group seeks to lead by example
On most days during the warmer months, Hélène Olland rides her bike to her downtown Montreal office, like many of her colleagues at Desjardins Group. As Advisor, Corporate Social Responsibility, with Canada's largest financial services cooperative, she believes in leading by example, just like her employer.
"I'm a millennial," says Olland, "so it's very important to me to work for a company that has a strong commitment to sustainable development. Global warming is one of the most important issues facing the world today. That's why I'm happy to see Desjardins doing its part to address it."
As part of its commitment to protect the environment and shrink its carbon footprint, Desjardins has implemented a wide variety of initiatives to promote alternative transportation, reduce paper consumption and improve energy efficiency.
To encourage cycling, for example, the company has installed dedicated change rooms and showers at its largest offices in Lévis, Que. (near Quebec City), Montreal, and Toronto. It also promotes the use of public transit through a 20-per- cent employee discount it has negotiated with transit authorities in those cities. Last year, more than 5,000 employees benefited from the program.
The company also promotes carpooling, car sharing and bike sharing. More than 1,000 Desjardins Group employees have registered with its online carpooling website since it was launched in 2011, over 155 employees use Quebec's Communauto car-sharing service, and more than 230 receive company-negotiated discounts on bike sharing programs in Montreal. Desjardins even operates a daily shuttle bus service between its head office in Lévis and Montreal.
With more than 1,000 service outlets in Ontario and Quebec, Olland says, the effort to reduce paper consumption is akin to climbing Everest. The company's paper usage exceeds 1 billion sheets a year. "It's like a mountain," she jokes. "The good thing is that, right now, 70 per cent of it is 100-per- cent recycled paper - but we would like to do more."
By next year, the company's goal is to cut its paper consumption by 10 per cent below its 2015 level. It also has programs in place to promote the donation or recycling of office furniture and computer equipment.
In recent years, Desjardins Group has introduced new financial products designed to inspire clients to make their homes more energy efficient and to buy more environmentally friendly vehicles. It offers a reduced interest rate on car loans for members who purchase new hybrid and electric cars, as well as discounts on auto insurance of up to 20 per cent. Similarly, homebuyers who purchase energy-efficient, LEED-certified homes or commercial properties are eligible for a discount of up to 10 per cent on their property insurance.
The Desjardins Group is also a leader in responsible investing. In 2016 alone, its ethical investments surpassed $2 billion. And, last year, it introduced three new ethical investment funds, including the Desjardins SocieTerra Environmental Bond Fund and the Desjardins SocieTerra Cleantech Fund.
"Just five years ago, it would have been tough to create these new socially responsible investment funds," says Éric Landry, Vice-President of Investment Solutions with Desjardins Wealth Management. "Today, the public has higher expectations when it comes to environmental and social issues and governance."
When it comes to the environment, Desjardins Group has decided it can be a leader and a lever for change, says Marc-André Malboeuf, Vice-President, HR Centre of Excellence, at Desjardins.
"As a corporate citizen, we've taken a position, and we act in favour of sustainable development by including environmental concerns in our business and our management practices," he explains.
"Desjardins is one of Canada's most sought-after employers thanks to our employee engagement and our HR and sustainable development practices," adds Malboeuf. "Many of our employees are proud that Desjardins is a leader in the preservation of the planet."