Recognized as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 30, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2019):
- BDC offers employees 3 to 4 weeks of starting vacation allowance (depending on their position), as well as the option to purchase up to 5 additional vacation days through the company's flexible health benefits plan
- BDC hosts an annual Wellness Day and organizes quarterly awareness campaigns focused on everything from mental and physical health to financial security and long-term planning -- additionally, employees receive a wellness spending account of $250 per year, which can be used for a variety of expenses, including gym membership
- Along with supporting a number of local and national charitable organizations, BDC encourages employees to take action in the community with up to 5 paid days off to volunteer each year
BDC supports its employees so they can help clients compete
Emilie Rosen joined the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) in 2013 to do a job that hadn't previously existed.
"I was BDC's first regional marketing manager," she says. "I bridged a gap between head office in Montreal and more than 30 business centres in the bank's Ontario region."
Supported by the bank's senior management, Rosen defined her role and its responsibilities while furthering BDC's mission of helping to create and develop small and mid-sized businesses in Canada.
"BDC tries to ensure that you succeed in your role," says Rosen, who came to Canada from France on an MBA exchange program and decided to stay. "They aligned me with the resources I needed, created a number of tools internally and made sure that the transfer of knowledge happened. That support was important. It still is."
Rosen is one of more than 2,200 BDC employees across the country who provide financing, capital and advisory services to more than 56,000 entrepreneurs.
Almost two years after she joined BDC, Rosen had defined the role of regional marketing manager to the point where the bank could duplicate the position at its five regional offices across the country. Now she wanted to get more involved in strategic planning and tactical implementation.
"I knew I wanted to advance to a national operational position," says Rosen, now BDC's senior advisor, financial products, in Montreal. "In my current position, I manage existing products for the bank and create new ones to better serve the evolving needs of our entrepreneurs."
With such focused incentive and passion for entrepreneurship, employees such as Rosen receive continual encouragement from BDC to take on new challenges. Through formal and informal training, the bank strives to create
a stimulating and engaging environment so that employees can keep pace with the clients they serve.
"We're a purpose-driven Crown corporation," says Mary Karamanos, senior vice-president of human resources, at BDC's head office in Montreal. "We have to ensure that employees are continuously learning to keep pace with the issues that affect entrepreneurs. The issues facing entrepreneurs change continuously."
Married to the owner and operator of a business in Montreal, Karamanos understands small business first-hand.
"What's happening in the economy, what's happening in global markets, or with U.S. tariffs. . . . We have to understand the challenges our clients face to best support them in becoming more competitive," she says. "It's also what keeps our work so interesting."
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2018):
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.