Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2022) and Montreal's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 11, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022), Top Employers for Canadians Over 40 (2022) and Montreal's Top Employers (2022):
- BDC helps employees plan securely for the future with contributions to a defined benefit pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees (with 100 per cent premium coverage and no age limit)
- BDC employees can also participate in an additional savings and investment plan, which allows them to contribute a percentage of their base salary to a group RRSP or TFSA with matching employer contributions
- BDC maintains a charitable focus on supporting entrepreneurs, specifically, the financial health of their business as well as their own mental health and well-being (especially important over the past year) -- additionally, the organization launched six new partnerships to support Black entrepreneurs and sponsored the Rise UP Pitch Competition, which provided free workshops and resources to Black women entrepreneurs across Canada, plus $10,000 in capital to the winning entrepreneurs
BDC invests in its people for the long term
After Marie-Chantal Lamothe earned a master’s degree in human resources from the Université de Sherbrooke in 1995, her first job was at the head office of Montréal-based Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). After gaining experience, she left to work elsewhere in banking and finance before returning to BDC in 2019.
“It was a homecoming for me,” says Lamothe of her journey from her first role as a senior adviser in human resources to her current position as chief human resources officer. “I knew BDC’s mandate, that they were cutting-edge, and I had been impressed with their progression over the years.”
BDC is a financial institution that helps create and develop strong Canadian businesses through financing, advisory services and capital, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. “We help entrepreneurs,” says Lamothe, “and I knew I could make a difference to the well-being of both our people and our clients.”
Marie-Claude Provost is another employee who has witnessed BDC’s innovation and evolution over the last quarter-century, since she was hired in 1996 as an account manager in Montréal. After several internal promotions there, she moved to Calgary in 2018 to become vice president, financing and consulting, for Alberta South. When she joined the organization, she didn’t have a career-track plan – but her managers had good ideas for her.
“My leaders have always been keen to make me see opportunities I might not have seen for myself, like when I moved from financing to marketing, then to human resources,” says Provost. “When we see something in someone, we want to develop the person in terms of capability and career. We’re proud of them, even if it means they’re going to leave our team and move to another one.”
Provost’s move west allowed her to discover new people and markets, as well as expand her knowledge of Canadian entrepreneurs. When the opportunity in Calgary came up, “someone tapped me on the shoulder and said I should think about it,” says Provost. “It was an ‘ah ha’ moment.”
Now, with a team of around 30 people, Provost enjoys mentoring students studying finance at her alma mater, Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as less experienced BDC colleagues. That coaching has been virtual since the pandemic began, and while she misses in-person meetings, she regularly keeps in touch with colleagues and clients with telephone and video calls.
In fact, BDC’s people quickly rose to the challenge of working remotely and senior leaders doubled down on the bank’s priority to support employees’ physical and mental health. That support now comes in many forms: tele-medicine, virtual mental health support to encourage work-life balance, resilience, mindfulness and yoga sessions, and fitness competitions.
“We’re also keeping communications channels open, much more than we did before the pandemic,” says Lamothe. “We’re in the process of looking at returning to the office, and we’ve set up a committee with employees to discuss their needs and wants with a new hybrid work model.”
Lamothe is proud of BDC’s decision to shut down operations completely across the organization for three days over the Christmas holidays last year. “People were exhausted,” she says, “and we decided that we wanted to do more than just give out extra vacation days.” The shutdown meant there no emails or phone calls from anyone – it was a real pause to take time with friends and family.
“Our people are our most valuable resource,” says Lamothe. “Working through the pandemic hasn’t been easy, but we’ve adapted our programs to our people’s changing needs to make sure everyone is mobilized to thrive and best support Canadian entrepreneurs.”
For BDC, diversity is also a business strategy
Joséphine Itela was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but left as a baby when her family relocated to Belgium, then Germany and France. Although she came to Canada in 2008, she didn’t feel truly at home in her career until she joined Montréal-based Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
“Based on the job description, I really felt like BDC was looking for me – an IT recruiter who was interested in diversity and inclusion,” says Itela, who was hired in June 2021 as senior advisor, talent and acquisition, IT. “As a Black woman immigrant, these are very important values to me.”
BDC is a financial institution that helps create and develop strong Canadian businesses, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. “Diversity is part of our business strategy,” says Chantal Rémy, senior vice president, Québec and Atlantic and advisory services. “Our commitment starts internally with a measurable action plan and extends to our client diversity strategy, which guides our support for underserved Canadian entrepreneurs and includes programs such as the Indigenous Entrepreneur Loan and Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.”
After three months at BDC, Itela’s role changed its focus from IT to diversity and inclusion. “I’m excited to learn about other diverse communities and how we can connect with them,” she says. “This isn’t something you can improvise – if we want to recruit more Indigenous employees, for example, we need to listen and learn what they need and want, then take action to attract and retain these employees.”
Although Itela lives a 15-minute walk from BDC’s headquarters, she has been working at home because of the pandemic. So hasn’t yet met all of her colleagues in person, but they already feel like family. On her first day, she turned on her camera in a virtual meeting and saw smiling, welcoming faces. Virtual coffee dates and lunches have also helped them get to know each other.
Perhaps especially while they’re working apart, Itela appreciates her colleagues’ collaborative nature. “Everyone is hard-working, whether it’s a job fair or a diversity and inclusion event,” she says. “And everyone can contribute ideas – you are listened to no matter who you are.”
Both Itela and Rémy love working for, and interacting with, passionate entrepreneurs. “They’re the key to prosperity in our communities and in our country,” says Rémy, who was recruited in 2012 as vice president, change strategies and learning. Since joining, she has seized many opportunities to get involved with internal committees and initiatives to better understand the organization, develop her internal network and contribute to the bank outside of her role.
Although Rémy has returned to the office two days a week, most of BDC’s employees are still working remotely. To help maintain connections, when an employee does something special, Rémy likes to surprise them. “I don’t schedule a meeting, I just call to say they did a great job, then chat with them for 15 minutes about work, home or whatever is on their mind,” she says.
Listening to employees is a priority at BDC, where they conduct regular employee “pulse check” surveys to understand how staff are doing and what they need. These insights inform new services and programs that are aligned with the needs of the moment.
When Rémy joined BDC, her senior leaders saw potential in her, recognizing that there would be different opportunities for her in the future. “BDC is very good at developing people, trusting them and seeing transferable skills,” she says.
Recognized as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2022):
By Kristina Leung and Stephanie Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Mar 7, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Business Development Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2022):
- BDC's diversity and inclusion strategy serves as the roadmap for activities, with six communities of focus (women, visible minorities, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2+ and military/veteran communities) each with a dedicated employee resource group who sets its priorities and objectives for the year, and consults with BDC's Diversity and Inclusion Centre of Expertise
- BDC underwent a comprehensive Indigenous employment systems review in 2019 from Indigenous Works, resulting in a three-year action plan -- BDC has also created a glossary and guidebook to share Indigenous history and language with employees
- BDC ran a mentoring program in 2020 to grow talent at the organization and support women in identifying career development opportunities, particularly in leadership -- the program was sponsored by three executives across different business lines and matched 25 mentees with experienced leaders -- due to its success, it has been approved as part of the organization's ongoing diversity agenda
At BDC, diversity has long been a wise investment
When Paige Glabb was growing up, her best friend’s mother worked for Montréal-based Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and praised it as an employer. After earning a master’s degree in teaching and learning from McGill University in 2016, Glabb wondered what she could do to work with adult learners in the corporate world. She found her calling – and her passion – at BDC.
BDC is a financial institution that helps create and develop strong Canadian businesses through financing, advisory services and capital, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. In 2016, Glabb joined the organization as a learning programs officer, leaving after 14 months to gain additional experience in education. In 2019, she returned to BDC in the role of senior advisor, learning, drawn back by several factors.
“I love the people I worked with, and I remained good friends with them while I was away,” says Glabb. “It’s a place that grows and invests in its people. And, most important for me personally, BDC has proven to be a place where I can show up to work as my full self.”
Upon her return, Glabb joined one of the six diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) employee resource groups as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. She’s excited to support BDC’s DEI strategy, soliciting employee feedback and helping design training programs.
“I’m passionate about helping BDC become a safer and more accepting environment for anyone facing barriers,” says Glabb, who identifies as a lesbian. “We’re doing many things right, but it’s a long journey. Coming out across the organization while leading our Being an Ally training sessions called upon me to be brave, but I knew that if I was going to be a part of this learning journey, I wanted to do it authentically.”
BDC’s commitment starts internally with its DEI Leadership Council, which consists of 16 senior leaders and is supported by employees across the country who represent every business unit. “Not a week goes by that I’m not impressed by our commitment to this work,” says Stéphane Bilodeau, senior vice president and chief information officer. “Diversity, equity and inclusion is not only a statement we make, it’s embedded in our strategy and values.”
Starting in 2020, all employees are required to take unconscious bias and allyship training. Other training includes gender inclusion fundamentals, inclusive leadership, and Indigenous history, identity and reconciliation in Canada.
“As an organization, you have to be aligned with the environment you’re operating in and what’s reflected in society or you’ll be rejected – as a vendor, an employer and a corporate citizen,” says Bilodeau. “But beyond that, we know this is the right thing to do, and openness starts with education.”
Bilodeau has participated in virtual listening circles – and the stories he has heard from diverse employees about their experiences throughout their careers have moved him. “I’ve had my eyes opened, and I’ve been seriously shaken by what I’ve heard,” he says. “I’ve asked myself, how do I embed that knowledge into my leadership role?”
The answer lies in being aware of what’s happening, both globally and at BDC. That’s followed by taking specific actions, such as implementing training programs and tracking and measuring the results. “What gets measured, gets done,” says Bilodeau.
Mentoring a Black leader at BDC has also given Bilodeau valuable insight. “As a white man, I’ve never experienced the discrimination he has,” he says. “I’ve said, I hear you, now how can I help? It’s an opportunity for him to explain and for me to listen, learn and engage – and that’s a priority for everyone at BDC.”