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 (2017):
- RBC introduced a new workplace model back in 2009, transforming much of its office workspace to reflect changing work styles including collaborative work spaces, support for telecommuting and increased access to video conferencing technology, to support 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 provides a variety of additional financial benefits including a defined contribution pension plan, matching RSP contributions, generous 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.
RBC looks for talent who can 'disrupt' banking
There were eight teams, 32 digitally-minded students, and a singular mission: "Disrupt us". Must be a weekend challenge at a high-tech company, right? No, it was a summer-long internship program at the headquarters of Canada's leading bank, RBC.
It's called Amplify, in which the bank selects highly talented students to apply innovative thinking to tough business problems. "They come in expecting a big, stiff bank," says Leona McCharles, Senior Director and Head of Strategy Enablement in the Technology and Operations (T&O) group, "and then they see how we're innovating - that we're looking at things like artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies and how to apply them."
The four-month program, which is part of a larger initiative in the T&O group that brings in more than 800 students each year, began in 2016 and has already recruited for Summer 2017 teams. "Essentially, they're treated like mini-startups in the organization, and they're given some of our most complex challenges," says McCharles. "They're asked to think about how we can work in different ways, to challenge and disrupt the bank and bring it forward."
And the results? Already, two patent applications have come from the 2016 program. The innovations, all of which continue to be worked on, include a virtual assistant to help wealth advisors, an analytics tool for branch management, a travel insurance app for people on the go, digital solutions to help millennials with banking, and work on cybersecurity.
"It was a very robust and diverse set of ideas," says McCharles. At the end of the summer, the bank gave out awards and bursaries to students who were judged by their executive mentors, or their peers, to have the best solutions.
Another result was that of the 32 participants, 26 have accepted future roles at the bank, either while they are still students or full-time when their studies are complete. In fact, 124 of the 800 students from the larger student program are returning for full-time roles.
One of those from Amplify with an RBC job waiting is Jessica Mallender, currently studying at the University of Toronto for her Master of Information degree in Information Systems and Design. She was part of the four-member team that worked on the tool to help manage branch technologies, which led to a patent application where she and her teammates will be listed as inventors.
The tool, she says, will bring together data that "will give the bank a better line of sight on what is happening at the branches and help them make better decisions."
In doing the program, Mallender says, she learned new things every day. "Through Amplify, I've been given a lot of opportunities to work on exciting projects and do cool things," she says. "I've also been given the chance to make a name for myself and show what I can do, which is what you want from an internship. You hope you're not going in just to make coffee or run errands."
Like all the four-member teams, Mallender's was made up of a deliberately diverse group. "We had a business information student, a computer science student, a math and stats student, and an engineering-physics student. So we all took on different roles within the team."
McCharles says the program will also consider innovative students from liberal arts, law, the sciences and other disciplines. "An important myth to be busted is that in a technology organization, we only hire technologists."
For 2017, she says, Amplify will expand to 16 teams of four, in the GTA and other RBC offices globally. Moreover, the bank will support proposals from students whose goal is to create their own fintech startup, potentially backed by RBC after the internship is finished.
"We're looking at how we can disrupt the financial services industry overall," says McCharles. "If we see good ideas coming forward, we're absolutely open to thinking about how we can partner. We're supporting future talent and innovation."
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. "
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 RBC was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Recent university and college graduates can acquire career-level experience through RBC's Career Launch Program, a 1-year paid internship for graduates under the age of 24 -- the program features 3-month rotations in retail banking branches and corporate offices, mentorship, professional networking and community experience via a short-term placement with a registered Canadian charity
- RBC created the Next Great Social Innovator Challenge, an annual competition to enable RBC Career Launch Associates to share responses to a challenge question based on a specific business need -- finalists receive an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto to present their ideas to a panel of RBC executives
- RBC maintains a dedicated employee resource group called "NextGen" for employees in their 20s and 30s -- the group has approximately 3,500 members and helps employees build connections across the organization
- RBC supports the development of high potential employees through accelerated leadership development programs such as the Global Emerging Leadership program -- participants receive one-on-one mentoring from executives and rotate through various divisions such as Wealth Management, Capital Markets, Investor and Treasury Services, Personal and Commercial Banking, Technology and Operations (to name a few)
Creating connections over coffee at RBC
It's amazing where a cup of coffee can take you. Even New York. That's what student intern Prabhjot Mukkar found when he literally gave an elevator pitch to a senior executive at RBC.
Mukkar had just finished a session in which young people at the bank meet with top leaders over coffee, organized through its RBC4Students hub on the Ten Thousand Coffees social media platform.
"I saw an executive I wanted to talk to leaving the room for her next meeting, so I quickly followed her to the elevator," recounts Mukkar. "We talked in the elevator, and then she invited me out at her floor and we kept talking. She became one of the reasons, along with several other coffee chats, that I became aware of an internship opportunity in New York with RBC Capital Markets, so I applied and then interviewed for it."
That's what Ten Thousand Coffees is all about at RBC - making face-to-face connections and gaining insights that can help young people launch their careers. "It's a unique opportunity to bridge the gap between students and leaders, as well as for our young people to engage with others across the organization through this digital platform," says Brien Convery, Director, Enterprise Campus Recruitment.
The bank set up the RBC Café - RBC4Students hub on the Toronto-based site in June 2016 to help some of the 5,000 students and young people it brings in annually, on internships, co-ops and other opportunities. "We're the first and only bank that's on the platform," says Convery.
RBC participants include students, young people already employed at the bank, managers and senior executives. New members set up a profile and describe their backgrounds, interests and goals, and can then invite others for coffee, or be invited. There is also a matching system that automatically recommends possibilities for meetings. Convery says the first contact tends to be a virtual chat, followed by a face-to-face meeting over coffee. Senior leaders usually meet with young people in small groups.
"People say they want to network, but what we find is that when it comes to actually picking up the phone or sending that email, it doesn't always happen," says Convery. "We found that by giving people this platform, we've been quite successful in making it a positive experience, not only for our students but for our managers and our leaders."
That was true for Zabeen Hirji, RBC's Chief Human Resources Officer. "This summer I had a coffee chat with 10 summer and co-op students on the terrace of Royal Bank Plaza in Toronto," she says. "I was energized by the conversations, just as I am by students and recent grads I meet at RBC and in the community. They are curious, serial learners and want to make a difference through the work they do. These conversations are insightful - not only do I get ideas about how we can unlock the potential of young people to help them thrive, they offer suggestions about how RBC can innovate to help our clients thrive."
Mukkar, who is studying financial economics and computer science at Western University while working summers and part-time at RBC, has been an enthusiastic user of the system since it started. "During the summer, at least once a week I went for coffee in Toronto," he says. "And for other locations, you can use Skype. I feel empowered to make connections with people that I can reach out to anytime."
Mukkar is very impressed with the environment at RBC, where leaders are always on the lookout for top talent. And the bank's openness to helping young people make new connections is very special, he says. "It can lead to some amazing things you never dreamt of."