Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2019) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Export Development Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019), Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2019) and National Capital Region's Top Employers (2019):
- EDC's 18-storey head office was constructed to meet LEED Gold standards and designed with employee feedback in mind -- the building features cafés and lounge areas on every floor, telepresence rooms, a fully-equipped fitness centre (with free membership and instructor-led classes) and a spectacular rooftop terrace and garden
- Along with a number of initiatives to keep employees informed, EDC hosts an annual employee conference with a keynote speaker and TED-style 15-minute presentations by employees
- EDC supports new mothers with maternity and parental leave top-up payments (to 95% of salary for 24 weeks) and provides parental leave top-up to new dads and adoptive parents (to 95% of salary for 18 weeks) -- additionally, EDC introduced the "FamilyMatters@EDC" initiative to offer workshops and speaker series on topics related to raising families
Helping communities at Export Development Canada
A great deal has changed at Export Development Canada since Stephanie Butt Thibodeau started working there 23 years ago. At that time, the Ottawa-based Crown corporation was more of a conservative financial institution with a traditional hierarchy of management. In the years since, however, EDC has invested significantly in management systems to ensure employees are able to problem-solve and are empowered to make decisions and drive their own work.
Now, says Butt Thibodeau, Senior Vice-President of Human Resources at the export credit agency, "leaders are there to remove roadblocks, to remove barriers and help support their team in achieving their results." Employees are encouraged to share their perspectives, challenge the status quo, and bring their ideas to improve their work.
And that's part of what has kept her at EDC much longer than the two or three years she expected to be there. "Our employees come to EDC because they want to make a difference for Canada, so the energy, the engagement, the passion, the commitment is there every day," she adds. "The opportunity to work with great people and to keep learning and growing and developing - I feel like I'm actually making a difference and I find that pretty inspiring."
That commitment and engagement translates into a positive work environment, as Matthew Robinson soon discovered when he joined EDC in 2016. Starting in a student role, Robinson says his supervisor was open about giving him opportunities in other areas of the organization, ones that aligned more closely with his interests.
"As a student I didn't feel isolated; I felt like a full employee and I could take advantage of the Lunch and Learns and the networking - the full package," says Robinson. "I could jump right into the community, whether it was through volunteering or taking advantage of opportunities."
When he moved into his new position as an Associate with Environmental and Social Risk Management, Robinson says he was well-prepared thanks to the training he'd received in problem-solving, mindsets and behaviours, and lean management. "It enables you to join a new team and hit the ground running, even though you might not have all of the background content or the detail," he adds. "I was able to jump in right away."
At the same time, Robinson never felt that he, at 23, was expected to be an instant expert. But, he adds, "even though I'm a young person, I'm bringing experience from other departments in the organization, sharing that knowledge with my new team and broadening their own networks, so that's been a really cool experience."
One of Robinson's favourite times of the year is Community Investment Day, during which EDC employees are connected with charities in their local communities. To him, it means "getting everyone out to pause and reflect and take a moment to say, the work we do is really important but so is taking the time to forge better connections with the community."
All employees are encouraged to participate in charitable work in their communities. Not only does EDC provide everyone with two days each year to volunteer but the corporation will also donate to an employee's charity once they've volunteered a certain number of hours. EDC is also partners with the United Way campaign and raised $197,437 last year - a generous employer when it comes to giving back to the community.
"The work we do is important," says Robinson, "but so is this in terms of finding that balance and that sense of fulfillment - and being the best employee you can be is all about that."
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 Export Development Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- EDC manages a unique Diversity 2020 Diversité Blog to help spark ongoing conversation and dialogue, with employees sharing blog posts or commenting on topics such as challenges faced by women in the workplace, mental health and depression, or coming out as LGBTQ2
- The Women@EDC forum was created in 2016 to help women connect, share thoughts and ideas, and grow internal networks -- with over 200 members, the group offers lunchtime workshops on a variety of topics such as personal branding and managing stress, and recently piloted a speed mentoring program
- In partnership with Deloitte and the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management, EDC sponsored the 2018 MBA Games and supported case competitions on four topics: diversity and inclusion, strategy, marketing and finance -- the MBA Games provide future leaders with a better understanding of diversity and inclusion and opportunities for businesses to grow due to the diverse nature of the country's workforce
EDC reflects the diversity of both customers and country
At Export Development Canada, an Ottawa-based Crown corporation, the purpose is lofty: to help Canadian companies take on the world. To really do that well, it's essential not only to understand Canadian companies but also different industries, different sizes of companies and different parts of the world.
"For EDC, it's in our DNA," says Mairead Lavery, CEO and President of Export Development Canada. "We have to be diverse to be able to deliver on our mandate. We have employees who are diverse as well as customers both in Canada and abroad who are diverse."
As a former customer of EDC, she brings an interesting background to her job. "That was something EDC was looking for, which was actually to bring the customer to the true centre of their operations," says Lavery, who is also chair of the Diversity and Inclusion committee, which has members from across the organization. "For me, that was a good starting indication of a culture that was extremely open and willing to learn and very inclusive."
The tone about the importance of diversity and inclusion is set from the top at EDC; at the same time, several grass-roots committees are flourishing. The women's group, for example, has about 200 members who are organizing their own programming, supporting charities of their choice, bringing in guest speakers, running events and mentoring other women. "I think that speaks to an evolution of how things are going," Lavery adds.
One member of the Diversity and Inclusion committee is a founder of Latinos y Amigos for the many Spanish-speaking employees at EDC. And there is a place on the committee for an Indigenous member. In 2018, the committee chose two groups to focus on - the Indigenous community and people with disabilities. The latter "was really about stressing abilities vs disabilities," says Jeremy Melhuish, a Director of Business Development, "and also building the connection with the point that not all disabilities are visible."
Melhuish's closest affiliation is with the LGBTQ2+ Employee Resource Group at EDC. "We want to make sure that employees feel safe to be their authentic selves," he says. Also, if employees need access to resources - say, a parent who has a child who is struggling with sexual identity - EDC will help connect them. And there is the social benefit too - that people can be themselves and feel valued and included. "They're actually a happier employee, a better employee, a more productive employee," says Melhuish.
Those benefits are ultimately passed on to EDC's customers, because a stronger, happier, more engaged workforce is going to be at the top of their game when it comes to serving their customers. "So at the end of the day," Melhuish says, "what's good for our employees is good for EDC and also good for our customer base."
While the push for diversity and inclusion to truly be part of EDC's DNA started with metrics and targets - necessary, as Lavery notes, to help change structures and processes - it is now permeating the culture. Employees can blog about subjects that are of interest to them: one woman wrote about her experience of coming out as a lesbian; a male employee wrote of his struggle with suicidal thoughts; a vice-president blogged about what she feels like having to look after both her parents and her children. "People get this consciousness about different backgrounds, different beliefs and different challenges they and their colleagues have, and we are trying to create a culture where we, as the employer, but also the whole organization, builds on an inclusive environment," explains Lavery.
EDC services 167 countries around the world. "It doesn't get any bigger than that," says Lavery. "With EDC in the middle of all that, if we were anything other than a reflection of the diversity that is, in fact, all of our customers and stakeholders, I think we would be doing something very wrong."