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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2018) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2018) :
- RBC is one of Canada's largest corporate donors, building upon a tradition of corporate philanthropy dating back to 1891 -- the bank's charitable focus includes youth, the environment, arts and culture, and the community, and has created a number of unique programs to support each area of focus, including the RBC Emerging Artists Project and the RBC Youth Mental Health Project
- 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 membership and weight-loss programs
- RBC invests in ongoing career development through tuition subsidies for courses related and indirectly related to an employees' current role, leadership development programs, and an annual "Career Month" to emphasize the importance of career management
At RBC, employees are creating exciting futures
As Canada's leading bank and one of the country's largest employers, RBC has long been known as
a trailblazer in many spheres -- including its relationship with employees. Two years ago, the bank held a global "Vision & Values Jam" in which its 80,000 employees worldwide were invited to redefine RBC's vision and purpose in a non-stop 55-hour online session with the CEO and top leaders.
Now, says Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Gottschling, the bank is building on successes like that with what is known as "design thinking" as it deals with the increasingly disruptive changes affecting the financial services industry. It's a recognition that jobs, workplaces and RBC itself are evolving quickly. And for employees, there's a nice ring to it.
"Our organization has done an amazing job over the years of focusing on the client experience," says Gottschling. "Now, in this new world of work, we are looking at employees as consumers of workplace experiences. So, as with the client experience, how employees experience working at RBC is a key priority for us in terms of their engagement."
For RBC, "design thinking" -- a methodology that encourages solutions-based, creative-style approaches to problems -- means involving the end-user from the start when developing something new. As an example, Gottschling points to the idea of a new HR program that traditionally would have been conceived at a leadership level, subjected to focus groups, and rolled out to employees. "Now we're saying, let's engage employees early on and find out what's really important to them," she says. "We want to ensure that we clearly understand the problem we're trying to solve and that we're really listening to employees about what matters most. That will then inform what we need to do and why."
Another example was the Jam, which led to an adjustment of RBC's values and the creation of its new purpose statement, "Helping clients thrive and communities prosper."
RBC has also recently updated its approach to work-life balance, with changes to parental leave for fathers and adoptive parents, and to mental health issues, with a new benefit of up to $3,000 for psychological support for Canadian employees. "These are proof points around employees being consumers of workplace experiences, and what we can offer to improve that experience based on what we hear from them," says Gottschling.
The bank is also focusing intensely on learning, she says. "It's not just about going on a one-day course, It's the idea of always learning, and how we are helping employees in that continuous learning journey. In three or five years, there's probably no job in the bank that will look or feel exactly the same, and we want our employees to be confident they can adapt."
Jeremy Zavitz is one of those employees. A Professional Services Specialist who joined RBC in Toronto in 2016 after studies at Durham College, he has already seen how such cutting-edge elements as artificial intelligence are affecting his area, where he deals with managing and vetting contracts for the bank. "I think there are going to be a lot of surprises in the industry," he says, "but RBC has been anticipating these challenges very well."
Looking ahead, he says, he believes he'll have the tools to move around the bank into other interesting roles. "Every time there is technological change, it opens up new kinds of opportunities for people," says Zavitz. "I believe there will be a lot of career opportunities going forward at RBC."
RBC brings leadership to the future of banking
Johnnie Vu is the face of the future of banking. As the Manager of an RBC branch in Etobicoke, he is not only part of the evolution of familiar forms of neighbourhood banking, he is also a "digital champion", helping his colleagues in other locations bring in new technology.
"I help ensure that all the new strategies and new tools are being rolled out smoothly to the branches in our west Toronto district," says Vu. "I think that's important, because there are a lot of new technologies being implemented. Each branch has appointed a digital navigator who I connect with."
These days, RBC branches have a lot of different styles. In Toronto, Vu cites the one at RBC WaterPark Place, an open-concept space where there are no teller wickets while digital pods and client advisors abound. In coming years, it is likely to be a key model for the RBC branch workplace. On the underground PATH network, there are smaller branches with ATMs and tablet-equipped advisors who help people on the go. And as so many clients handle day-to-day banking on their smartphones, RBC recently introduced an artificial intelligence component to its mobile app that can give clients personalized insights into their finances and help them save.
Vu says his own branch has also evolved. Employees are trained to enable clients to work with digital channels that allow them to fulfill more of their transactional needs on their own. This allows Vu and his colleagues to focus on delivering advice and solutions to clients' more complex needs. Technology is also helping staff reduce the steps necessary for clients to complete services, such as mortgages and credit lines. "All of these changes are designed to help us be more agile as we transform," he says.
A Calgary native who grew up in Montreal, Vu joined RBC in that city after graduating from Concordia University. With RBC's support in both time off and tuition assistance, he gained an MBA from Queen's University by taking livestreamed video courses every Monday. "The bank has been very, very supportive in my career development," he says. He was able to meet with several senior leaders for mentorship, he adds. "They really made me feel that maybe leadership is the place I'd like to be."
Two years ago, he moved to Toronto to get broader experience at the bank's national office and build a wider network. He again gained strong mentorship from senior leaders, he says. Now he is focusing on RBC's new leadership model, which itself takes account of the future of banking.
Helena Gottschling, Chief Human Resources Officer, explains. "A traditional leadership model lists 12 or 15 key capabilities, such as strong business acumen or being execution-oriented -- it's very prescriptive," she says. "What we attempted to do is create a narrative around leadership, around what matters most. There are four themes -- driving to impact, adapting quickly and always learning, unlocking the potential of our people, and speaking up for the good of RBC. There are sub-themes that flesh this out.
"What's really interesting is that when we launched it to executives this spring, we initially thought of it as that -- our 'leadership' model," says Gottschling. "But what's evolved is that employees are grabbing on to it, because so much of it is around how employees also need to work differently, not just leaders. People are pointing to the model to talk about how we need to adapt how we work to the changes in banking. It's very encouraging."
Vu says the model has helped him reflect on his own strengths and opportunities as a leader. "All of us across the organization are being asked, how can we do things better?" he says. "It's such a great time for the bank to do this, because so much is changing around us."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Feb 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2018):
- RBC created a unique new "backpack" application for students enrolled in its internship program -- the application features personalized student profiles with information on their school, discipline of study and anticipated graduation date, gamified challenges to develop new skills through peer competition, and opportunities to sign up for career chats with executives
- 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 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 Career Launch Associates may also participate in the Next Great Social Innovator Challenge, an annual competition inviting associates to find a solution to a specific business need -- finalists receive an all-expenses paid trip to Toronto to present their ideas to a panel of RBC executives
Well-being: How RBC takes care of its people
Anastacia Chichova knows from personal experience how important it is to have an employer that is committed to wellness and well-being in the workplace. In 2013, she suffered head injuries in a car accident and had to take time off from her job at RBC. "I had a severe concussion," she remembers. "When I came back, RBC made sure I was accommodated in a quiet environment. And there was a coach to help me deal with anything I needed."
At the time, Chichova was working as a business advisor in the large RBC Advice Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Today, she is a Client Effectiveness Coach, developing advisors who deal direct with RBC clients by phone and video conference. She is also a Wellness Champion, part of the bank's commitment to making sure its people -- including new recruits and younger staff like her -- feel supported in all aspects of their working lives.
At the Advice Centre, Chichova helps organize and deliver programs such as Wellness Days. "We put the focus on employees' holistic well-being -- their physical well-being, their financial well-being and their mental well-being," she says. "These are the people who take care of our clients so we need to take care of them."
There are yoga classes, mindfulness and meditation sessions, and outside experts brought in to talk about managing stress. RBC employee resource groups, such as NextGen for young people, also organize events and help employees network with one another.
"We spend a big chunk of our life at work, so it's important to RBC that while we're here, we're well taken care of," says Chichova.
Across the bank, there are many programs to promote employee well-being, says Nadine Orr, Vice-President, Pension and Benefits. "Our focus is on creating an inclusive work culture where everybody feels engaged, supported and encouraged to bring their whole self to work and thrive."
There are global wellness campaigns to increase awareness about physical, nutritional and mental well-being, in which employees can earn "wellness credits" to purchase wellness-related services and merchandise. In 2016, the bank held its first year-long campaign focused on mental well-being -- the "Your Mind Matters" campaign -- which encouraged conversations about the importance of, and link between, mental health and overall well-being. More than 28,000 employees participated in one or more activities.
In 2017, the bank also expanded its medical coverage to include a new core benefit for all Canadian employees and their enrolled dependents -- $3,000 worth of psychological coverage, including psychologists, psychotherapy, marriage counselling and other services.
Orr sees these benefits and programs as particularly attractive to young people considering a career at RBC. "We have found that young people feel less stigma about accessing support," she says.
For those feeling stressed by money issues, there is also Invest in Yourself, a program to help people better understand their finances. That is especially top of mind for young people coming out of school with debt from student loans, or saving towards their first home. And Orr points to RBC's commitment to community involvement, including employee volunteer grants, as contributing to a sense of employee well-being and purpose.
"We encourage every RBCer to discover a cause they're passionate about and make it easy for them to get involved in whatever way works best for them," she says. "The big focus for us across the board is on making sure that employees are set up to succeed in realizing their full potential and building meaningful careers."
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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2018):
- For over a decade, RBC has partnered with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to provide mentoring relationships to new Canadian job-seekers, and encourages SMEs to hire internationally-qualified interns through the RBC Career Bridge Associate Host Program
- With support from RBC Insurance and RBC Advice Centres in Meadowvale, the bank's REACH employee resource group for individuals with disabilities hosted its fifth annual (Dis)ABILITY Learning Expo to discuss the importance of accessibility and helping employees learn how they can make a difference
- RBC manages the Diversity Dialogues Reciprocal Mentoring Program to pair diverse employees with senior leaders who have different professional experience and backgrounds in order to promote a more inclusive culture
"RBC went above and beyond went it came to accommodating my needs. I use a wheelchair, and RBC assisted with an accessible workstation, bathroom, and floor amenities to ensure I would be comfortable and independent. I'm also part of REACH, an employee resource group for persons with disabilities, so I'm able to use my voice to help other RBCers when it comes to disability accommodation. I am very proud to work in an inclusive and supportive environment." Joel D., Executive Communications Advisor, Office of the CEO
Real pride: How RBC supports the LGBT+ community
Sawyer James started work at RBC at a very sensitive time in his life. Only months earlier, he had come out as a transgender male, and he was still in the initial stages of his transition. But once he arrived at the bank in early 2016, things couldn't have gone better.
"It has been great," says James, who works as a Cards Advisor in the Credit Card Department at RBC's Advice Centre in Mississauga, Ont. "The support I have received has been more than I could have expected from a company and from the people I work with."
Although legally he was not Sawyer yet, the bank readily respected his new identity, he says. And he was able to join the centre's LGBT+ steering committee.
But what impressed James most occurred a few months later in 2016, when he was asked to speak at a panel on transgender issues at the Advice Centre. "I brought up the fact that I didn't feel comfortable yet using the male washroom. And just because of that one remark, RBC has created gender-neutral washrooms."
Indeed, the bank created a whole new washroom on the ground floor of the Advice Centre, and now is in the process of creating 22 more such facilities at RBC premises across the country. "It happened very fast," says James. "RBC is not afraid to break new ground and make something happen."
James has also become a minor RBC celebrity. Last June, he was profiled in an online feature on the RBC portal, seen by all 80,000 employees around the globe. The article was among the top three viewed in 2017, and has led to many other bank employees reaching out to him for advice and mentorship, often encouraged by their supervisors.
"I find RBC is very open, they believe in people and the power of their dreams," he says. "A lot of managers have the 'safe space' rainbow symbol on their desks. I feel I can speak to anyone about pretty much anything."
In fact, when the controversy erupted in North Carolina in 2016 over use of washrooms according to gender identity, RBC quickly signed on to a court filing by 68 major companies aimed at blocking discrimination against the transgender community.
"Support for diversity and inclusion at RBC is broad, deep and longstanding," says Karen McCarthy, Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. She should know -- when she joined the bank 14 years ago she was able to be completely open about being in a committed same-sex relationship with a four-month-old son.
"Culture is so important in an organization," says McCarthy. "RBC had the culture where I felt I could be my authentic self, build new skills and develop as a leader. How do you not discuss children or your partner? I wanted to work in an open and supportive environment, and it has been that way since the moment I started."
McCarthy is an ongoing member of the RBC Diversity Dialogues Mentoring Program, which pairs senior leaders like her with individual employees with diverse backgrounds. They meet regularly for a year to expand awareness of diversity topics, often for both participants.
On LGBT+ issues, the bank continues to be on the leading edge, notes McCarthy. Recently RBC Capital Markets and the industry group LGBT in Capital Markets launched Common Grounds, Canada's first coaching program for LGBT+ capital markets professionals. The bank is also a founding partner of the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, which in 2016 gave its first corporation of the year award to RBC for its support of LGBT+ suppliers.
"Those are the types of areas where RBC really is in the forefront," says McCarthy. "We base our ongoing diversity and inclusion journey on a solid foundation of respect for all individuals and the belief that we all benefit when everyone can bring their whole selves to work and contribute to their fullest potential."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- RBC offers unique financing products including energy saver loans and mortgages to help customers create and buy energy efficient homes while saving on borrowing costs -- RBC also offers investors seven socially responsible investment (SRI) mutual fund products, with over $4.7 billion in assets currently, and supports entrepreneurs through the $10 million RBC Generator Fund to help finance projects addressing social and environmental challenges
- 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), maintaining organic and recycling programs at all locations, finding ways to reuse or donate slightly used furniture, and ensuring that all paper waste (its primary waste product) is shredded and properly recycled -- the bank has achieved an impressive waste diversion from landfill rate of 79%
How RBC supports the environment - in a big way
When you're as big as RBC - Canada's leading bank, with 81,000 employees worldwide - you have a lot of ways to help the environment and to aid the transition to a low-carbon economy.
One way, for example, is to use your public platform to explicitly support measures such as carbon-pricing, which RBC began doing in 2016. It has followed up with a series of economic reports, position papers and executive speeches.
Another is to ensure your own environmental footprint is in line with your philosophy. RBC has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 23 per cent since 2012, and this year became carbon neutral through purchase of high-quality carbon offsets.
But these are just the beginning. The bank has embedded sustainability initiatives throughout its lines of business, notes Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship. "The overarching strategy is that climate change is a pressing issue, we're a large organization, and we can mobilize on a number of fronts," she says.
So within the bank, RBC Capital Markets supported green bond issues worth $5.1 billion in 2017, RBC Wealth Management offers a fossil fuel-free global equity fund, and Personal & Commercial Banking does more than $100 million in business with Clean Technology clients. At the same time, the bank has taken a leading role in organizations and partnerships that are responding to climate change around the world, from the UN to Canada's Smart Prosperity initiative.
There is plenty of reason for a major bank to take a strong position on the environment, notes Chort. "Climate change will impact all sectors of the economy, whether it be agriculture, transportation, infrastructure - it impacts us all. So we need to better understand what are those risks, what are the opportunities, and be ready for them. Ignoring it is not in our interest. Preparing and being active in shaping what our future could look like is absolutely in our interest."
RBC is also turning to its own people and partners to mobilize their expertise in critical areas of sustainability research. In a pilot project, the bank is soliciting ideas on how the digital blockchain used for cryptocurrencies could help protect environmental data, how artificial intelligence could assist in developing climate change scenarios, and how a planned app called Swim Drink Fish, produced by an organization of the same name, could monitor water quality with the help of citizen scientists.
The bank has long encouraged its people to help find ways to improve its environmental performance. "Our employees are pretty passionate about the subject matter so finding ways for them to constructively add value is very important," says Chort.
One of those employees is Farhan Peervani, Senior Manager, Operations Process Strategy - Transformation. In his area, people work on improving bank processes for efficiency and for a better client experience. Peervani began looking at the amounts of paper that clients in Personal Banking receive when arranging RRSPs, TFSAs and similar accounts.
"We found it was 30 to 60 pieces of paper," says Peervani. "We are now rationalizing the process, and by early next year, our clients will be walking away with only three pieces of paper on average."
Nationally, he says, this means some 23 million pages will come down to 500,000, a reduction of nearly 98 per cent. "When we did our presentation, this was an eyeopener for a lot of people." He estimates that the number of trees needed to produce that paper will fall from 1,800 to 107.
Peervani, who joined RBC 13 years ago after finishing a degree in computer science at McMaster University, says he has always admired the bank for supporting green causes. "I couldn't be happier to work with an organization like RBC," he says. "I'm sure we'll be coming out with a lot more initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint."