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 RBC was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- RBC introduced a new workplace model back in 2009 that has transformed much of its office workspace to reflect changing work styles, including new collaborative work spaces, support for telecommuting and increased access to video conferencing technology in support of greater workforce mobility
- RBC manages an in-house wellness program called "Living Well" to encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles -- through the program, the bank rewards healthy behaviour with credits for a personal Wellness Account, which can be used for wellness-related expenses such as gym memberships and weight-loss programs
- As one of the country's most successful financial institutions, RBC offers all employees the attractive benefit of becoming an owner through a share purchase plan -- the bank also offers a variety of additional financial benefits including a defined contribution pension plan, matching RSP contributions, referral bonuses for employees who successfully refer a candidate (to $5,000) and a range of discounted banking services, from fees to mortgage rates
RBCers driven by six powerful words
To understand how RBC has evolved as a place to work, you should talk to both Per Scott, part of the leadership team at the bank's Toronto headquarters, and Amr Mohamed, a Banking Advisor at the Mountain Road branch in Moncton, N.B.
Scott, Vice President, Human Resources, will tell you about the bank's remarkable exercise of the past year to rearticulate its purpose, vision and values. A key part of the process was a 55-hour, worldwide "Vision and Values Jam", in which more than 20,000 employees participated online from 22 countries. The eventual result was RBC's compelling new purpose statement: "Helping clients thrive and communities prosper."
And in Moncton, Mohamed will tell you about how he and some colleagues vividly lived that statement of purpose with the all-in support they offered a group of newly arrived Syrian refugees. "It was a little emotional," Mohamed allows. Only a few months later, the group is indeed thriving.
Mohamed was working in an RBC Advice Centre in October 2015 when the Vision and Values Jam was held across the organization. President and CEO Dave McKay had launched a broad effort to define an explicit purpose for Canada's leading bank, and he was among those who took part during two and a half days of non-stop global discussion about its guiding principles.
"We had come to the conclusion that in the future, successful companies would be purpose-driven, principles-led and performance-focused," says Scott.
And what is the purpose of having a Purpose? "It's about inspiring like-minded people to join you, and focusing on the things that matter most to you," he says. "We want to communicate to employees and prospective employees that it's not just about being commercially successful. There is a mission."
Scott was among those who, some two months later, succeeded in distilling all the discussion into the new, six-word statement about helping clients and communities. And about two months after that, in February 2016, Mohamed got a call from his manager.
An Arabic speaker who grew up in Egypt, Mohamed was needed at a local branch where RBC had agreed to help a group of Syrian refugees who had arrived just the day before. There, he discovered that far from being interested in banking, the group needed help with much more fundamental concerns. "They wanted to know where can we find food, where is the market, where are we going to live? I said everything will be taken care of."
On the second day, men brought their families, and everyone crowded into a branch conference room to learn more about the basics of Canada and of banking. In succeeding weeks, Mohamed, backed by Maha Smith, another Arabic-speaking colleague, slowly began introducing a group used to paying with cash to bank accounts, ATM cards and finally credit cards. Mohamed transferred to work at the branch, and it became the go-to place for the Syrians to get information about anything they needed. "They came in all the time," he says. "We built a trust."
Today, aided by intensive English classes, more than 80 per cent of the adults are working - a community prospering. Many go straight to the ATM or a teller when they come in, no longer needing Mohamed, and some, he chuckles, even speak to him in English.
"What I like about RBC is that we are so involved in the community," says Mohamed. "I am so proud that we were one of the first banks to help Syrian refugees. It's amazing to be part of an organization that has this awareness." And now, six powerful words to describe it.
Finding the right mental health care: how RBC helps youth
When Lynda Clarke needed to find more help for her teenage son's troubles, she decided to check out a link one of her colleagues had shared with her - the Family Navigation Project. It turned out to be a life-saver, but only later did she discover that the project was sponsored by the very company she has worked at for 28 years: RBC.
Launched by Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in 2013, the project helps families navigate the complex mosaic of services for young people, aged 13 to 26, with serious mental health and/or addiction problems. Since then, the RBC Run for the Kids in Toronto has raised more than $5.1 million to support it.
Clarke, a single mother who works as an Executive Assistant in RBC's Canadian banking division, says her son had needed help since he was young, but things got much worse during his teenage years. "A tidal wave came at me," she says. His high school had provided some useful information about services, "but the key thing is the right fit." For two years, she was unable to find it, until she contacted the Family Navigation Project.
After talking it through, her Family Navigator, as its professionals are called, set up a tailor-made list of agencies and services that could specifically help her son, including a youth drop-in and counselling service she had never heard of.
"I was just in awe," says Clarke. "I felt like a weight was taken off my shoulders."
Equally important, she got support for herself. "When there was nothing available for those two years, I also crashed," she says, "because I was trying to be his psychologist, his everything. So my navigator found me help as well."
Jamie Anderson, Deputy Chairman of RBC Capital Markets and RBC Run for the Kids' champion in the bank, is quite blunt about the situation that led to the creation of the Family Navigation Project.
"We do not currently have an integrated mental health care system in Greater Toronto that is easy to navigate," says Anderson, who has served as Chair of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. "What we have is quite a wide array of organizations, ranging from very small to quite substantial, that provide mental health care and addictions care. But unless you really know all these organizations, you're hard-pressed to find where you should be getting care."
RBC, which first mounted the Run for the Kids in New York and now organizes it in eight cities worldwide, wanted the Toronto version to support improved access to mental health care, and contacted Sunnybrook. Dr. Anthony Levitt, Research Director of Sunnybrook's Department of Psychiatry, brought forward the Family Navigation Project idea - and a partnership was born. Levitt became the project's Medical Director.
This year's RBC Run for the Kids in Toronto attracted some 8,400 participants, including more than 5,800 RBC employees and family members. "People really get behind it," Anderson says. "Employees today are interested in multiple aspects of what their employment entails - including the organization's commitment to helping communities prosper and how can they get involved. Giving employees an opportunity to be engaged in something they're excited about works in every way - employees like it, it is good for the community and it helps us attract people to work here."
Anderson counts himself as one of those people. When he rejoined the bank at a senior level in 1995 after a stint in New York, "it was in part because RBC is very involved in communities across the country," he says. "I wanted to be involved with an organization where I could make a difference."
Lynda Clarke is quite sure RBC has made a difference. Today, her son is 19 and is still working through his challenges. "But the great thing is," she says, "he knows where to go to get support."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why RBC was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- Recent university and college graduates can gain career experience through RBC's Career Launch Program, a 1-year paid internship for graduates under the age of 24 -- the program features opportunities for formal learning, mentorship, professional networking and community experience through a work term with a registered Canadian charity
- RBC created the Next Great Social Innovator Challenge, an annual competition for RBC Career Launch Associates -- participants submit a response to the challenge question, which is based on a specific business need, and finalists are flown to Toronto to present their ideas to a panel of RBC executives -- students have a chance to win up to $20,000 as well as interview with an RBC recruiter
- RBC maintains a dedicated employee resource group called "NextGen" for employees in their 20s and 30s -- the group has approximately 3,000 members and helps employees build connections across the organization
- RBC established the Global Emerging Leadership Program, a 2-year cross-enterprise leadership development program for individuals with demonstrated leadership capabilities -- the program features a series of rotations, including the possibility of an international rotation
RBC helps break the 'no experience, no job' cycle
After graduating from the University of Ottawa, Peirre Diop began his job hunt in the summer of 2013. By that fall, he was pretty discouraged. "I had sent out dozens and dozens of resumes," he says. "I had a few interviews, but they said I wasn't experienced enough." Then he saw an online posting for the Career Launch Program offered by RBC.
"I was saying to employers 'give me a chance'," he says. "And that's what Career Launch is all about. It gives you a chance."
RBC's Career Launch Program, unique in Canada, helps talented young people to gain valuable work experience at a time of high youth unemployment.
The program, which started with Diop's cohort in early 2014, hires 100 young people annually from a wide variety of backgrounds and employs them at the bank for a one- year paid internship, including three months at one of RBC's charitable partners. After that, the next step is up to each person. Some apply for a position at RBC, while others return to the job market in their chosen field, hugely bolstered by their experience - and by RBC on their resume.
"We refer to it as breaking the 'no experience, no job' cycle," says Susan Uchida, Vice President, Learning, at RBC. "The program focuses on university and college graduates up to age 24 who are having difficulty transitioning from school to work.
Uchida stresses that the program is not "a talent sourcing strategy" for RBC, although many from the first-year cohort - including Diop - ended up successfully applying for jobs with the bank after they finished in January 2015.
"The program is about giving the 100 associates experience," says Uchida. "Our goal is to help them develop the skills, the confidence and the network to pursue their chosen career path with greater success. In the latter half of the program we start working with them on their resumes, we support them in terms of their interests, and we really try to help them learn to effectively present themselves."
In their year, associates rotate through a six-month period in a local RBC branch as a client advisor, or teller, where they learn the fundamentals of client service and branch banking as a foundation. This is followed by a three-month placement at a charitable organization which RBC arranges, and a final three months at RBC head office in Toronto, using professional skills from their original field of study.
Gabriel Dionne was selected for the program in January 2015, after studying management at Concordia University in Montreal. Working in the branch allowed him to meet people in a variety of banking roles, he says, and "I saw what the structure of a big company is all about." His charity placement was with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, ideal for him due to his interest in arts marketing. At head office, he worked in the corporate citizenship department, which appealed to his desire to make a difference through his work.
"I feel like a new person," says Dionne. "I have been mentored and guided a lot. I'm much more confident. And I have been able to create a network and will be able to leverage these contacts as I look for my next opportunity."
Diop, meanwhile, is now working in an RBC branch as a banking advisor. Like Dionne, he feels the experience has given him much more confidence and has educated him about working life. "In the beginning I was naïve and had big dreams," he says. "Now, I am a well-trained adult and I have big goals."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 23, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why RBC was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2016):
- A number of RBC's departments manage dedicated in-house groups for female employees, which organize networking events and guest speakers -- the bank also created "Women in Leadership", an accelerated development program featuring in-person workshops, a focus on individual development, exposure to executives and opportunities for participants to build their networks
- In partnership with WEConnect, RBC offers Supplier Diversity Mentorship Workshop series, which provides opportunities to network with employees in enterprise services and Canadian banking divisions -- additionally, the bank offers mentoring through the RBC Reciprocal Mentorship Program for diverse suppliers, offered in partnership with Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council and WEConnect
- RBC created the RBC Career Bridge Associate Host Program for SMEs in personal and commercial banking to help SMEs hire internationally-qualified interns -- the program is offered in partnership with Career Bridge
- RBC recently introduced LGBT Inclusion Webcast Series to introduce LGBT and awareness training, and also introduced new workplace gender transition guidelines for employees who are transitioning their gender
RBC enables the next generation of top women leaders
As Canada's leading bank, RBC has long achieved a strong representation of women at and near the top. Three of the seven executive leaders who report directly to the CEO are women. Across the organization, 46 per cent of middle managers and above are women, including 39 per cent of executives.
But it's now even later than 2015, and well before Justin Trudeau made his famous statement about gender parity, RBC had embarked on an intensive program to make sure it has a strong new generation of women executives coming up.
Part of its broader leadership efforts, the bank's Women in Leadership program recognizes the unique needs of high-potential women who are one or two levels below vice-president, the first executive rung, and invites them to a 10-month integrated program involving coaching, workshops and forums to strengthen their leadership skills.
The program began in 2014 with a group of 28 women seen as potential future leaders. "It focuses in on the kind of support women might need to reach their full potential," says Helena Gottschling, Senior Vice President, Leadership & Organizational Development, Human
Resources. "Our goal is to continue to increase the representation of women and visible minorities at executive levels across our organization."
Gottschling points out that there are challenges unique to women climbing the corporate ladder, particularly unconscious biases. "It can be making assumptions about what women want or don't want," she says. "Such as, 'They wouldn't want to move to a new city because they have young children.' Or assumptions about whether they are 'as committed' because they're also raising a young family. At RBC, we're talking about these unconscious biases more and addressing them. The key is asking versus assuming."
Lynette Gillen, now Regional Vice President Commercial Financial Services, Ontario North & East, became part of the first Women in Leadership cohort while she was based in Regina, and found she learned a lot. "It increased my self-awareness in a lot of areas, both personally and professionally," she says.
"What was great about being part of a group of all women was it felt safer to self-disclose. I know in a group that included men I wouldn't say, 'you know, when I speak up to strongly disagree in a meeting I'm afraid I'm going to be labelled as aggressive.' I was able to say that in this group and then found that other women across the organization were feeling the same way."
She also remembers at a workshop being given a complex topic - how should RBC expand globally? - 15 minutes before having to deliver a live presentation on it to a room of executives. Afterwards, she and others who did the exercise were given written feedback from the executives, and then discussed it on a call in small groups. "We talked about it - do I agree with the feedback, did we miss the mark or present our strategy well? - and it was just a safe group to go through the experience with."
Gillen was also able to network with women from across RBC's global operation. She is still in touch with her small group, which she calls her "truth-tellers", discussing their work experiences and challenges on a regular basis.
About eight months after completing the program, Gillen learned of her promotion to regional vice-president, an executive role based in Ottawa. According to Gottschling, just over half of participants have moved into new roles that expand their horizons and develop their careers.
She says the program has other benefits. "We are also enabling managers to provide better coaching to individuals and addressing some of their unconscious biases," she says. "And it's an attraction to potential talent when they see we are making this effort. It reinforces our position as an employer of choice."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 21, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why RBC was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2016):
- RBC established the "RBC Environmental Blueprint" back in 2007 (its very first environmental policy was developed in 1991) which outlines the bank's four environmental objectives: reducing its environmental footprint; managing environmental and social risk; developing environmental products, services and advice; and promoting environmental sustainability
- As part of its Environmental Blueprint, RBC is committed to the ongoing development and expansion of waste reduction and recycling initiatives, setting a goal of zero electronic waste to the landfill by 2018 -- the bank also ensures that all major construction and renovation projects set waste diversion plans, maintains organic and recycling programs (has achieved a 71% waste diversion rate) and finds ways to reuse or donate slightly used furniture, with over 1,000 tonnes of furniture diverted from the landfill since 2008
- Working with other major banks, RBC hosted an e-waste recycling event in Toronto's financial district for employees and members of the public, offering a chance to win prizes and collecting 3,200 kilograms of e-waste for recycling and proper disposal
- RBC offers financing for individual and commercial solar power generation products, energy saver loans to help customers create energy efficient homes while saving on borrowing costs, and seven socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual fund products, with over $3.8 billion in assets currently
RBC takes big steps to reduce its environmental footprint
As you pass through the lobby of RBC's Meadowvale location in Mississauga, Ont., you may see the latest environmental initiative launched by longtime employee Trina Palmer-Leitzke and her property management & green committee colleagues. It might be collectors for recycling batteries, cellphones or Tim Horton's cups - "we get a lot of those."
Or there may be products on sale made from recycled materials. At Christmas time, you might see information about reusable gift bags and making decorations out of old Christmas cards.
Then there's the building complex itself on the 25-acre campus, which houses the headquarters of RBC Insurance and over 6,000 RBC employees. Palmer-Leitzke has worked with the building management which ensures there is LED and motion-sensor lighting, as well as eco-friendly waste management.
But the biggest employee-driven impact probably comes from the building's Smart Commute program that Palmer-Leitzke started in 2007, setting up daily carpooling through an RBC Smart Commute website. In taking numerous automobiles off the road each day, the program has logged nearly 45,000 km of carpooling and kept an estimated 5.1 tonnes of CO2 emissions out of the atmosphere since September 2014.
Palmer-Leitzke's day job is an Insurance Fraud Analyst, but she volunteers for the green committee because "working on environmental and sustainability issues is my passion." In that, she gets whole-hearted support from RBC itself, which has a vast environmental program that embeds sustainability in all parts of the enterprise. RBC enables employees to embrace their environmental passion through both formal employee green teams and informal employee-led green initiatives.
"It makes me proud to work for an organization that puts this much effort and concentration into being environmentally conscious," says Palmer-Leitzke.
Indeed, there is a whole RBC team overseen by Andrew Craig, Director, Corporate Environmental Affairs, who has a worldwide mandate in instilling sustainability throughout the bank - starting with its offices.
RBC, he notes, is one of the largest leasers in Canada of office space with the LEED Gold certification for sustainable green design and operation. Globally, he adds, the figure is approaching 500,000 square metres of such space - "that's 58 soccer fields or 290 NHL rinks."
The company has already achieved its 2018 target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent (now down 24.5 per cent since 2012), and is in the middle of a major crackdown on paper. That target is a 20 per cent reduction in paper use per employee, and it has now declined 16 per cent since 2012. Along with educational campaigns, part of the trick is simply making fewer copier-printers available, which also reduces energy use, not to mention costs.
RBC has also slimmed its environmental footprint by purchasing green power to offset the energy used by all the ATMs and display screens in its branches across the country. Those seemingly small devices use almost 10 per cent of the branches' total power consumption, and RBC pays for fully 20,000 megawatts of electricity from alternative-energy provider Bullfrog Power each year. Craig notes that this program provides no cost saving to RBC - green power is more expensive than conventional sources.
RBC is also well known for its $50 million Blue Water Project, aimed at improving global water quality, and employees make a difference in the results. Last year some 25,000 employees in 26 countries participated in Blue Water Day, doing volunteer community clean-ups, partnering with charities and learning more about water issues.
On the business side, Craig points to RBC's increasing range of green products, including green bonds that support major sustainability projects, mutual funds that invest in green companies, leadership in carbon trading, and $3 billion in loans to the renewable energy sector.
And there is more on the way. "The organization really has doubled down on environmental and social programming," says Craig. "RBC wants to continue being a leader in this space. Companies that don't have environmental or social purposes are losing relevancy in Canada. "