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 (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 28, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why BDC / Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- BDC is committed to the successful employment of new Canadians and is a founding member of the Syrian Refugees Jobs Agenda Roundtable in the Greater Toronto Area -- following a successful refugee internship pilot program in 2016, BDC expanded the GTA-based initiative to other lines of business and regions across the country
- BDC sponsors Prince's Operation Entrepreneur, a business accelerator program to help transitioning military personnel and veterans start their own business -- the bank also maintains a dedicated employee resource group for employees who have served, are reservists or are spouses of military personnel
- As part of the organization's Women Entrepreneur National Initiative, BDC allocates funds to sponsor programs for female entrepreneurs and participates in related events such as financial literacy workshops, coaching and mentoring initiatives, and networking and business accelerator programs
BDC's values reflect the communities it serves
As one of nine members across the country of an employee-led LGBTQ2+ committee at the Business Development Bank of Canada, Melanie Blackbird represented the committee in the Atlantic region to gather support for a campaign called "I want to be an ally."
In addition to talking about LGBTQ2+ issues, Blackbird distributed postcards, stickers and other campaign material so that individual employees could demonstrate their acceptance and support for the LGBTQ2+ community.
"It was an opportunity for individuals to stand up," says Blackbird, the BDC's Area Office Manager in Halifax. And they did: more than 500 employees from the bank's 123 offices showed their support for the LGBTQ2+ community.
While other employee-led committees within the bank's Diversity and Inclusion Group focus on issues affecting groups like seniors, women and military veterans, Blackbird joined the LGBTQ2+ committee on the day it was formed, more than two years ago. Drawn from each of the bank's regions and from all parts of the organization, committee members conduct a conference call every two months to discuss ideas and move forward with action items.
"It's not top down," says Blackbird. "It's an employee-led initiative. It gives us a voice at the bank."
For more than 70 years, the BDC has provided Canadian entrepreneurs with long-term loans for projects and working capital, tailored consulting services, hybrid debt and equity financing, and venture capital investments in high technology companies. It now serves more than 56,000 clients in a wide range of businesses and sectors. They also represent a wide range of cultures, backgrounds and orientations.
"To be successful, we have to mirror the diverse communities that we serve," says Mary Karamanos, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, at the bank's head office in Montreal. "We look at the various aspects of diversity, how we learn about it, how we promote it and how we can leverage people's strengths by understanding their experiences."
Married to an entrepreneur and having grown up in an entrepreneurial family in Montreal, Karamanos understands small businesses. After graduating from McGill, she held senior positions in several small entrepreneurial and global organizations.
"I understood what entrepreneurs face, so I was attracted by what BDC does to support them," she says. "Being Canada's bank for entrepreneurs, it's important that we understand small business and the opportunities and challenges that our clients face. We're here to help them along on their business journey".
As Blackbird points out, entrepreneurs assess the bank not only by its products and services but by its values as well. That makes her work with the LGBTQ2+ committee all the more important.
"There's a whole business community looking at our approach to diversity," she says.
Blackbird grew up in the Annapolis Valley and joined the bank 13 years ago as a temporary receptionist. With a bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University, she worked her way through advisory, underwriting and portfolio management positions before she became Area Office Manager five years ago.
While her participation in the BDC's diversity initiatives helps to further the bank's client-centric mission, Blackbird also has a personal agenda in encouraging acceptance, support and inclusion of diverse communities.
"I have two gay children," she says. "I'm pretty sure that my kids will never work in a bank, but I hope they can at least work in a place where they feel openly welcome."