Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Montreal's Top Employers (2018) :
- As part of the organization's focus on employee well-being, BDC hosts an annual Wellness Day and organizes quarterly awareness campaigns focused on everything from mental and physical health to financial planning -- and offers a wellness spending account as well as the option to purchase of up to 5 additional vacation days through the flexible health plan
- BDC encourages employees to find a balance between work and their personal lives with a range of alternative work arrangements including flexible hours, telecommuting, reduced summer hours and a shortened work week option
- BDC helps employees prepare for the future with the security of a defined benefit pension plan and retirement planning assistance
From offices to wharves, BDC's people go everywhere
Every company has a mission. Not so many have managed to create the strong sense of purpose that's shared by employees of the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
"The BDC culture is all about the client. We focus on being in front of the customer and we take pride in the client experience. That's what makes BDC what we are -- we work with Canadian entrepreneurs to help them be the most competitive in the world," says Mike Ball, Senior Account Manager at BDC's office in Grand Falls-Windsor, Nfld., one of 122 business centres the bank operates across the country.
"My clients are spread over a very large area," adds Ball, who has been with BDC since 2006. "Many of them are in the fishing industry, so a typical day may find me on a fishing wharf or around a kitchen table. I've known some clients for more than 10 years and over two generations of ownership."
Founded in 1944 and based in Montreal, BDC is a federal Crown corporation that provides financing, advisory services and capital to small and medium-sized enterprises in all industries and at all stages of development.
"We play a complementary role to the chartered banks," says Michael Denham, BDC's President and CEO. "BDC is a patient, flexible lender. We assist companies in higher-risk segments and we focus exclusively on entrepreneurs."
To maintain BDC's laser focus on the customer, "we look for people who get it, who identify with and appreciate working with small businesses," Denham says. "Our employees come from a mix of business backgrounds. Some are from other banks and some have been entrepreneurs themselves."
BDC aims to provide a positive employee experience by offering comprehensive learning and development, an innovative recognition program, and by promoting health and wellness for its people.
In addition, the bank's close attention to its customers creates benefits for its employees at the same time. As an example, Denham cites the bank's recent "E-first" initiative.
"This enables our account managers to authorize loans from their tablets while they're meeting with their clients," he says. "Getting immediate approval is good service for the client but also good for the account manager. It's still early days but there's a sense of pride that BDC is using such a pioneering approach."
Ball is equally enthusiastic about the technology initiative: "I can take out an iPad on a wharf in Twillingate and get my client's loan approved on the spot."
Another recent project that enhanced both the employee and client experience was BDC's Innovation Challenge.
"We want to be innovative so we can help our clients be innovative, and to us being innovative means being better," says Denham. "We encouraged our people to form teams to work together to develop new products and services. It was amazing how many people took part.
"Not only were there tangible results that we'll be bringing to market, such as ways of helping new immigrants start their own businesses, but it showed us how an innovation process can work."
Mike Ball's team, a partnership with members from New Brunswick, was a finalist in the Innovation Challenge. "We had a lot of fun doing it and presenting it to top management, and now we're working with partners throughout the bank on developing it further," he says.
"It's a great example of why BDC is a fun place to work. We take time to celebrate our successes and the achievements of our clients."
At BDC, there's more than just team spirit
The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has more than 2,200 employees working out of 122 business centres across Canada, but they all think of themselves as belonging to a single team.
"One team, one BDC, one client -- this idea has been built into the DNA of all of us for the past few years as part of the bank's new brand identity," says Lisa To, Vice President, Financing Strategy Product and Support. "It's more than just team spirit. No matter what department we work for, BDC is one face in front of every client."
BDC focuses exclusively on one specific group of clients: entrepreneurs. Founded in 1944, the bank is a federal Crown corporation that provides financing, advisory services and capital to small and medium-sized enterprises in all industries and at all stages of development.
That focus was one reason Gabrielle Guilbault decided to join BDC a year and a half ago as a Legal Assistant at the bank's Montreal head office.
"My grandfather and father were both successful entrepreneurs, but they also went through hard times," she says. "I'm particularly proud of working at BDC because of its mandate of helping entrepreneurs. I've had varied working experiences in the past, including non-profit organizations, and I was always happy in those jobs, but here at BDC I feel I have a deeper purpose."
There was another factor in Guilbault's decision, she says: "My previous jobs were emotionally draining. I'd heard of the quality of the environment at BDC and I felt I needed that."
BDC offers a range of alternative work arrangements, including flexible hours, telecommuting and a shortened work week, as well as a variety of wellness programs.
"We truly invest in the employee experience," says To. "For example, we have an internal Innovation Challenge, a Facebook-style website called Yammer for all our employees, and we recently equipped some of them with iPads to accelerate loan approval while they're with their clients -- this is a first in our industry. It's all about proximity, between our people and also with our clients."
Guilbault has seen the value of that proximity. "I can discuss my personal future with my leaders, who are always accessible, and I work with my legal colleagues in Toronto and Vancouver all the time. We use conference calls and video-conferencing, so the proximity is spectacular even though we've never met in person."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 1, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2018):
- BDC is committed to the successful employment of new Canadians and is a founding member of the Syrian Refugees Jobs Agenda Roundtable in the GTA -- additionally, BDC works with the Refugee Career Jumpstart Project on a number of initiatives including matching employees with job-ready Syrian newcomers for a 26-week mentorship, and hosting a Job Skills Workshop for 20 job-ready Syrian newcomers
- In partnership with ACCES Employment, BDC manages the Entrepreneurship Connections program to provide opportunities for mentoring and networking as well as training on how to successfully launch a business -- since the program's inception in 2013, 316 entrepreneurs have participated and 124 have launched a business
- BDC also aims to better serve female entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneur National Initiative, allocating funds for sponsorship of programs and initiatives for female entrepreneurs -- the bank has participated in over 227 events such as financial literacy workshops, coaching and mentoring, networking and business accelerator programs
BDC breaks down barriers inside and out
In 2017, having actively promoted diversity and inclusion, or D&I, among its employees for several years, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) adopted a new approach.
"We thought we should step back and revisit our strategy for diversity and update the way we address D&I. Things change and every company is different; at BDC we want to be doing what's best for our people and our clients," says Ellen Austin, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at BDC, a Montreal-headquartered federal Crown corporation that provides financing, advisory services and capital to entrepreneurs across the country.
"In the past, diversity was all about the workforce -- do we have a diverse group of employees?" she says. "Now when we talk about D&I, the workplace has become important too -- are we helping the diverse employee groups thrive once they join BDC? Are they comfortable being who they are?
"And we must also consider the marketplace -- how are we working to support D&I among our clients? This is a kind of outreach. For example, when newcomers to Canada apply for loans, they may not meet traditional credit requirements, such as Canadian credit history. BDC developed a newcomer loan that doesn't require Canadian credit history and focuses on other attributes. To be inclusive we had to amend our policies to serve this community."
The new approach was accompanied by a new D&I governance structure within the bank. "We established two co-chairs for the Diversity Committee, one from business, one from HR," Austin explains. "I'm the co-chair representing HR, and as of April 2017, I also hold the new position of Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
"Because we see the workforce rapidly changing, BDC felt the need to look beyond the four traditional communities of focus -- women, Indigenous persons, persons with disabilities and visible minorities -- and also include the communities that encompass LGBT, the military, newcomers and intergenerational/millennials.
"Eleven senior leaders at BDC were identified -- one to head each of the eight groups, as well as two leaders to act as liaisons with the Employee Experience Committee and Client Experience Committee, and another who supports groups with specific challenges. We reached out to our employees, looking for committee volunteers, and were delighted that more than 60 people stepped up. That's over two per cent of BDC's employee population," says Austin.
Each group meets monthly or bimonthly to review progress against strategies and the full committee meets twice a year. The co-chairs report quarterly to the president on progress against defined objectives and to discuss new opportunities in the marketplace.
"The new model with eight groups is extremely relevant and has had a great impact on employees," says Mathieu Desjardins, an Analyst in BDC's Information Management department and a member of the LGBT support group. "There's openness to ideas from the different groups, and I think we've empowered people on D&I. At BDC, I feel, you can have an idea and make it happen. That makes you feel valued."
Desjardins is also Quebec Regional Lead for Pride at Work Canada, which is dedicated to encouraging workplace cultures to recognize LGBT employees as an important part of a diverse and effective workforce. After joining BDC six years ago, he urged the bank to get involved with the organization, which it did. "They are always open-minded about diversity, so I had great support for this," he says. "It's fantastic how BDC has helped break down barriers."
Looking at the long-term outlook for D&I at BDC, Austin says, "Eventually we shouldn't need my position because D&I will be embedded in the BDC culture." Does that mean she's planning to work herself out of a job? "Don't tell my boss," she replies with a laugh.