Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto'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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- In addition to their paid vacation time, RBC offers a purchased vacation option that lets employees purchase up to 20 days of additional vacation time when needed to help balance personal and family time
- RBC manages an in-house wellness program called "Living Well" to encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles, rewarding healthy behaviour with credits for a personal Wellness Account that can be used for wellness-related expenses, such as gym membership and weight-loss programs -- and the bank recently launched the "RBC Blueprint for Mental Health and Wellbeing" that sets out the bank's vision for promoting the mental health and well-being of all employees
- RBC invests in ongoing career development through tuition subsidies for courses related and indirectly related to an employees' current role, leadership development programs, an annual "Career Month" in March to promote career development for all employees, as well as paid internship programs for the next generation of employees, from 4 months to 1 year in duration
RBC ushers in the era of 'employee enablement'
As one of Canada's biggest employers, RBC has long been a leader in introducing new ways of working. Now it is changing some of the cherished concepts around employee performance, employee learning and even extra jobs people can do.
It's all part of "employee enablement," says Chief Human Resources Officer Helena Gottschling. "Our success begins and ends with highly engaged employees," she says.
A key element is a shift from the old idea of "performance management" to a more dynamic approach of "performance enablement". "This involves creating a culture of feedback and coaching, and upping the leader's role in providing that feedback and coaching," says Gottschling. "It's about creating an environment in which all employees have the ability to improve, and giving them the support they need to be the best they can be."
Gone is the former requirement for a formal mid-year review of an employee's goals and performance in favour of regular meetings throughout the year. In the past 12 months, RBC has trained some 11,000 people leaders in "how to provide more candid feedback," says Gottschling, "because candid and transparent feedback helps us all get better." Employees, too, are encouraged to give feedback to colleagues and leaders.
A simplified version of the traditional year-end review for employees is still held, she says, since employees typically like to review how they have measured up against their goals, discuss their development plans for the year ahead, and are on some form of variable compensation. But there is a shift in mindset, she says. "We're getting more creative, more dynamic, and bringing more accountability to the leader-manager in how they're coaching."
In employee learning, the bank is moving away from, say, a typical three-day course and expanding its digital offerings that people can view or download in more "bite-size" pieces on their mobile phones or laptops. "It's often just-in-time learning that they can apply on the job right when they need it," says Gottschling. "We have a new self-serve portal designed to support employees' own personal learning strategy."
As for work itself, RBC has instituted SPARK!, an online program that allows employees to connect with each other to work on projects in areas that may be outside their job description. "We are leaning into an internal 'gig economy'," says Gottschling with a smile. For example, with the agreement of a supervisor, an accountant might take a few hours to work as a photographer for another department. Some 1,000 employees, she says, have taken part in "unleashing their creativity in areas outside their day-to-day that they're passionate about."
For Truman Wong, all of these initiatives have been a positive experience. As Manager, Operations Process Strategy in Vancouver, he helps colleagues implement the bank's policies and procedures. He has already done several SPARK! tasks, including logo design. "It's a great opportunity to dabble and flex my design muscles, and develop some skills outside of my day job," he says.
He also likes the new performance enablement system. "It's really fluid," he says. "We're evolving from those more regimented, pre-set performance reviews to something much more nimble and responsive to our changing needs on the ground."
Wong has weekly "check-ins" with his supervisor. "It is an enablement conversation, where we go over what's going well and whether there are any challenges, any obstacles they can help clear out for me," he says.
After eight years at RBC, Wong is optimistic about the way the bank is evolving. "All of the tools we've seen come up have been fantastic for fostering more collaboration, reaching out to peers across the country and picking up new skills."
RBC employees share a passion for helping their communities
In her work at RBC in Toronto, Sonya Kumar is known as a Scrum Master, meaning she is the facilitator for the HR Workforce Innovation team and helps members stay focused on solving critical problems with the right solutions in the shortest possible time. The innovative system comes from software development, and the term comes from rugby, where players reconfigure themselves quickly in a scrum and restart the flow of the game.
"I'm the Scrum Master and I'm also a team member, accountable for the outcomes of our program," says Kumar. "This is a new way that we're working, so there are no set rules and it's a flat structure. I play many roles."
Indeed she does. Kumar's role in this "agile lab" is an example of RBC's often cutting-edge approach to the workplace environment. But she also has other roles supported equally strongly by RBC: as a volunteer in the community.
In her town of Ajax, Ont., just east of Toronto, Kumar is a member of the School Community Council where her two daughters attend Grade 2 and Grade 5. It takes time, especially when she was chair and "worked with the principal, directed the business of the council, and worked with the outside community on events and fundraising."
RBC, she says, helps with her schedule so she can contribute in a meaningful way. Moreover, in the past year she logged more than 40 volunteer hours, using the bank's myCommunity online tool, and RBC matched the hours and donated $500 to the school in recognition.
"That's been the best part for me," says Kumar. "The school did wonderful things with that money. They were able to buy books for the library and contribute to equipment for the kids to have fun during recess - they really appreciated it."
Kumar also works with Ascend, an organization supporting pan-Asian business leaders; RBC is a Platinum sponsor. "We leverage our networks and provide programs and events that inspire and educate individuals from the pan-Asian community," says Kumar.
RBC's support for employees' community involvement makes her feel "great pride," Kumar says. "It gives you that sense of purpose in coming into work. It's not just about the paycheque."
That feeling goes right to the top at RBC, where leaders like Patti Shugart, Managing Director and Global Head, Corporate Banking and Global Credit for RBC Capital Markets, are also involved with the community. "We really do believe in a corporate culture where employees who want more purpose in their day not only help our clients thrive, but help our communities prosper," she says. "It's not just lip service, this goes to our firm's core values."
Shugart was an early champion of the RBC Race for the Kids in Toronto, which has raised more than $10 million for Sunnybrook Hospital's Family Navigation Project, helping young people with mental health issues find the treatment they need.
She also works with a United Way charity called Women United. "The notion is to take women living below the poverty line in Toronto and pull them up through funding, job opportunities, coaching and mentoring. When you help to bring a mother out of poverty, you also lift her children which has a ripple effect on our communities," says Shugart.
Within RBC, she was also co-creator of RWomen, a global networking group for women in RBC Capital Markets and related areas, and is a champion of a new "Returnship" program that offers support to women who have been out of capital markets for several years, so they can more easily return to a career in finance.
Shugart estimates she spends 50-60 hours a year working with the community. "I want to be a good role model to show people that you can achieve success, have a family and balanced life, and you can also spend time giving back. In our culture, everybody should be giving back to groups they are passionate about."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 17, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
- RBC created a unique Amplify program, a 4-month summer internship that allows students to work in creative, agile environments to solve business challenges -- participants pitch their final ideas to a panel of senior executives and successful ideas may lead to the launch of their initiative internally, scholarships, or seed funding for students to launch their own start up
- 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
RBC offers mobility, innovation and meaningful work
In the fall of 2017, when Austin Lee was beginning his final year at the University of Alberta, working towards a Bachelor of Commerce degree with a major in finance, he was also searching for a full-time job to launch his professional career following graduation. He did his research on potential employers and liked what he heard about RBC.
"When you think about financial services, there are a lot of different ways you can go," he says now. "RBC was making investments in youth. I knew they'd invest in me and help me grow - I'd get a strong start in my career. And they're also committed to diversity and inclusion, which is very important to me."
Lee was hired by RBC in November. Upon graduation, he moved to Toronto and began work as an Associate in the Indigenous Peoples Talent Development Program, one of several rotational programs the bank offers new graduates to introduce them to different parts of the organization and provide them with a breadth of real-world experience. RBC offers a variety of opportunities to new graduates, says Jenny Poulos, Senior Vice President, Workforce Strategy and Employee Experience.
"We're not just looking for business majors. Graduates come from all disciplines, including sciences, arts and technology. We try to offer positions near the start of their final year so they don't have to worry about finding a job while they're completing their degree.
"We want to offer more than a job," Poulos adds. "We're providing meaningful work, mentorship, coaching, feedback and career advice, and encouraging them to make real contributions to our clients and communities."
Lee is currently in the first of four rotations in his two-year program. "Right from the start I was using my university learning and applying it to a real-world business case," he says. "I was trusted to do this, which was more than I could have asked for. Even though I'm just one person in a large organization, I feel I'm having an impact and delivering business results."
At the same time, Lee is enhancing his professional credentials by pursuing a Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute, with the bank's support.
"One of our priorities is building diverse and inclusive workplaces," Poulos says. "We have several internal resources and communities where employees come together to share experiences, and drive conversation and change around inclusion."
NextGen is one of these "communities," an Employee Resource Group for staff in their 20s and 30s. ERGs are self-coordinating voluntary groups that provide members with forums to grow and develop professionally, share ideas and take part in community outreach.
Another way RBC enables recent university and college graduates to gain experience is through its Career Launch Program, a oneyear paid internship for people under the age of 24. The bank is investing $20 million over several years in the program, which includes rotations in retail banking branches and corporate offices, mentorship, networking and community experience through a short-term placement with a registered Canadian charity.
RBC provides meaningful experiential learning to nearly 2,500 students a year. Students benefit from experiences designed to build their skills for the future, including RBC's new Backpack app, which features gamified challenges to develop skills through peer competition and provides opportunities to interact with executives. In 2016, the bank introduced RBC Amplify, an intensive four-month summer internship focused on innovation, in which students are assigned to some of the company's toughest business challenges.
"When young people engage with us," Poulos says, "we show them there's innovation happening at RBC, many opportunities and a lot of mobility within the organization. They're sometimes surprised to hear of the long tenure of some of our employees. We're a bank of relationships, with a culture of learning and growth."
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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2019):
- RBC recently hosted a Diversathon, leveraging hackathon methodologies to encourage diversity of thought in order to better understand the unique needs of Indigenous employees
- The unique event resulted in two initiatives, the #iCOMMIT campaign to encourage employees to commit to participating in Indigenous cultural activities over the course of the year, and reciprocal mentoring to match Indigenous employees to other Indigenous or non-Indigenous individuals
- For over a decade, RBC has partnered with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council to provide mentoring relationships to new Canadian job-seekers, matching over 500 individuals since the partnership began
"Diversity and inclusion has been and continues to be very important to me both personally and in my professional experiences. Since participating in the Speak up for Inclusion video I have had many people reach out to me to say thank you for sharing my experiences and to thank me for being brave and speaking up. I feel that I was able to speak up about a shared experience for many women that has deepened the conversation about gender equality, diversity and inclusion." Andrea M., Senior Director, Regional Banking Planning & Enablement
Harnessing the power of inclusion at RBC
Understanding that diversity is a reality but inclusion is a choice, RBC is encouraging its employees, its clients and others to speak up about, and for, inclusion.
"We need to have a dialogue to create a climate where differences are okay and also valued, so we can harness the power of diversity and inclusion, ensuring a level playing field for all talent," says Kelly Pereira, Senior Vice President, Leadership Development. "Diversity & Inclusion is one of our core values but there's more to it than that. We've seen an evolution over the last decade demonstrating that a diverse group of people who feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, speaking up and offering ideas, will drive innovation."
RBC's conversations about inclusion are more than just talk, as Aakanksha Verma found out when she joined the bank in May 2015 for a summer internship while pursuing an MBA at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. She'd come to Canada the previous year from India, where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. "The first thing I wanted to figure out about a new employer was, are they open to new ideas and perspectives, and will they take them seriously?" Verma says."When I reached out to RBC, I got the vibe that people were interested in me and wanted to find out what I was interested in. I felt I was already building my own network during the interview process. After joining the company, I found all this was very genuine. Every RBC employee I've met treats others as equals, wants to share, wants you to be part of the culture and help shape it. It's very exciting."
After completing her MBA in 2016, Verma began working full-time as an Associate in RBC's Leadership Development Program, and is currently Senior Manager in a Toronto-based team developing future strategies for Personal and Commercial banking programs.
She's also an active co-chair in NextGen, an employee resource group that aims "to make RBC even more youth-friendly, if possible," she says. "We set up a pilot initiative where every young employee will have a mentor. This was really powerful, showing how we can drive changes to the culture."
Diversity and inclusion initiatives at RBC begin during recruiting. For instance, there's a new program to hire people - particularly women but also men - who have taken a "pause" from work, whether to raise a family or for a personal break. "It can be a real challenge for them to get back into the workforce after a few years," Pereira explains. "Often they need an entry point, and this program helps provide it."
Other programs help diverse people with high potential reach leadership roles, through mentorship, leadership coaching and introductions to leaders. As examples, Pereira mentions Ignite, a new program mainly for culturally diverse talent, and Women in Leadership. "We've been offering programs like this for several years, but like most organizations we need to keep stepping up our efforts," she says, "which is why we're also proud to be a founding partner of a new LGBT+ executive program at Queen's University's Smith School of Business."
As an example of RBC's diversity in action, Verma recalls, "I was part of a new team that brought together many accomplished people from different areas with varied backgrounds. Everyone was very approachable and appreciative of new ideas, regardless of seniority or backgrounds. The RBC culture was ingrained from the start. It's in the air."
RBC's dialogue about inclusion reaches beyond its walls. "We want to ignite a transparent conversation to speak up for inclusion and talk about what we can all do to accelerate inclusion," says Pereira. "For example, our new Diversity & Inclusion web portal is a central hub to keep diversity alive, to encourage clients, communities and employees to get involved, to inspire our talent and lead our peers to do the same."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- Across RBC, over 400 employees act as Green Champions to create awareness and encourage sustainable behaviours through numerous employee-led initiatives such as monthly car-free days, weekly organic produce deliveries, sustainability-themed lunch and learns, and environmentally-themed volunteer initiatives
- As part of its Environmental Blueprint, RBC has maintained a steady focus on waste reduction and recycling initiatives (setting a goal of zero electronic waste to the landfill), maintaining organic and recycling programs at all locations, finding ways to reuse or donate slightly used furniture, and properly disposing of carpets and demolition waste in new renovations and construction -- the bank has achieved an impressive waste diversion from landfill rate of 80 per cent and an incredible 99 per cent for e-waste
- RBC is helping to build the foundation of a cleantech future through a unique cross Canada Clean Technology Advisory Team, which is responsible for over $100 million in cleantech commercial banking business, supporting over 40 clients in the GTA alone
RBC helps clients and staff invest in a greener future
Building on its decades-long commitment to reduce carbon emissions and contribute to a healthier planet, RBC has established the Sustainable Finance Group within RBC Capital Markets. It's a long-term investment that recognizes the role of capital in the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Launched in January 2019, the group focuses specifically on assisting clients with environmental and social financing insights, advice and solutions, which are increasingly viewed as important factors in both corporate strategy and investment decision-making.
RBC looks at environmental opportunities in two ways, says Lindsay Patrick, Managing Director and Head of Sustainable Finance: "How can we be greener as a company, and how can we, as a bank, work with our clients to help them achieve their own environmental goals? The purpose of our new team is to develop and expand sustainable financing solutions in the marketplace.
"Investors are changing their priorities, seeing the financial returns of managing their investments with a sustainability lens, and banks have a very large role to play in providing attractive solutions," Patrick says. "We intend to be an innovator and leader in this space. RBC Capital Markets is already a Canadian leader in underwriting green bonds for institutions such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which was the first pension fund in the world to issue a green bond to help fund its investments in renewable energy."
Increasingly, investors consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria when evaluating future risks and returns, Patrick explains. "When we advise our clients on sustainable investing we take all the ESG factors into account. If you look at the strategies of the world's largest investors, they think along these lines as well."
As well as supporting its clients, RBC is constantly looking for ways to reduce its own carbon emissions. Sarah Thompson has been closely involved with these efforts since she joined the bank eight years ago as Green IT Manager responsible for reducing RBC's technology infrastructure footprint. In 2013, she became Senior Manager, Environmental Initiatives, with a bank-wide mandate, and she has now moved to join Patrick's team in Capital Markets as Vice President, Sustainable Finance.
"RBC has a long history of environmental leadership," Thompson says. "Our focus has grown over the years beyond our own environmental footprint to look at ways we can work with partners across the bank to develop green products and services - the creation of the Sustainable Finance Group being a more recent example."
Numerous employee-driven initiatives led by formal "green teams" have helped improve RBC's environmental performance. Thompson cites an idea that came from the green team on the Capital Markets trading floor, which has its own cafeteria. By purchasing silverware and organizing a "mug drop" to every employee, the team eliminated all single-use plastic cutlery and disposable cups.
"Management is very engaged and supportive of this kind of activity," says Patrick, "but the initiatives originate with employees."
The bank's support comes in many forms, including grants that encourage employees who volunteer their time for greening their communities, an award program recognizing employees who have made significant contributions to their local environments, and a campaign to encourage employees to support community green organizations of their choice.
"Employees tell us through our annual survey and also anecdotally that this makes RBC a better place to work, because they feel they're making a difference," says Thompson. "Personally, I feel it gives so much purpose to my day-to-day work. I know my work has a positive impact and I can measure the benefits of the projects I work on. There's so much energy, it's inspiring."