Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023) and Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 17, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2023) and Canada's Top Family-Friendly Employers (2022):
- Desjardins Group has updated its flexible work policies to offer three flexible work arrangements, including 100 per cent onsite, 100 per cent offsite and combinations of both -- and if their work arrangements include telecommuting for one or more days, employees receive a permanent allowance, to $1,000, to help cover home office expenses (and unused amounts can be carried forward into the following year)
- Desjardins Group supports new parents with maternity and parental leave top-up payments for new mothers and adoptive parents (to 95 per cent of salary for 18 weeks) and parental leave top-up for new fathers (to 95 per cent of salary for 12 weeks) -- head office employees can also take advantage of onsite daycare when they return to work
- Along with helping employees save for retirement through a defined benefit pension plan, Desjardins Group encourages employees to prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance and phased-in work options when nearing retirement -- retirees can remain in the health benefits plan with no age limit (with shared contributions)
Desjardins helps staff reach their full potential
The path to a dream job can feel a little unclear – so Desjardins Group is helping its employees grow in their careers and explore internal possibilities with help from their colleagues.
The organization recently launched the Passionate Professionals Network, which is meant to support employees’ career development and interests at the cooperative by connecting them with their peers and helping them learn about opportunities within the organization.
The social media-style platform began with 200 employees across the country acting as ambassadors for their respective jobs. Curious employees can read about the different jobs, watch pre-recorded ambassador videos to learn more about a given role, and reach out directly to ask questions about their qualifications and skills, day-to-day work and more.
Marc-André Malboeuf, vice-president of human resources at Desjardins, says the Lévis, Que.-based cooperative financial group started with the 200 ambassadors representing the most common roles, with plans to expand to other roles in the future.
“The slogan we’ve used is to explore your possibilities and find your passion, and that represents the mission we’re trying to put forward,” Malboeuf says. “We encourage the fulfilment of our employees in every area of their life so they can reach their full potential on a personal and professional basis.”
When Jennifer Lee, a corporate underwriting advisor for Desjardins in Mississauga, Ont., had the opportunity to be an ambassador, she jumped at the chance. “I’m always excited to join something new and see it grow and develop.”
Lee, who’s been with Desjardins since 2001, says corporate underwriting is a particularly unique role, with different product lines, invigorating challenges around understanding and categorizing risk, and regulatory frameworks to follow. “I know there has been a lot of interest in our team and department in the past, so I’m looking forward to those requests.”
The Passionate Professionals Network is just the latest evolution of Desjardins’ supportive approach toward employees’ career development, Lee says. During her career, which she began as an insurance agent before graduating to an underwriter and then to her current role, she says she’s always had opportunities to be coached both formally and informally, and the ability to job-shadow roles she was interested in.
“Desjardins is a very human company. Everyone here is really open to sharing their career journey and their career roles,” she says. “That teamwork and sharing of information has always been part of the culture.”
The organization also has an internal human resources system that allows employees to fill out a profile with their job aspirations and qualifications. The platform’s machine learning capabilities show employees the career paths of people who’ve been in their role before, which Malboeuf says is meant to open their eyes to internal possibilities and to help them think about what skills they need to develop to reach the next step in their career. Desjardins plans to upgrade the system early next year.
“Of course, 50-odd thousand people seems like a big organization, but we’re trying to make it as family-oriented and close-knit as possible,” Malboeuf says. “That’s what we’re trying to build as an organization in that network, that employees feel they’re comfortable enough to go to colleagues to ask those questions.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 17, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2022):
- Desjardins Group manages a Young Intern Director program for individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, allowing them to become familiar with the role of an officer or administrator by completing an internship on the board of directors or the board of supervision at a Desjardins caisse -- participants may have opportunities to share ideas for new services for young members with committees and commissions
- Desjardins Group maintains a Young Executives Network for managers under the age of 35, which organizes a number of activities for members including an annual conference, a networking cocktail hour, monthly newsletters and community involvement initiatives
A people-first focus inspires careers at Desjardins
Rogée-Paulina Mouanga was at a job fair in Ottawa when she first chanced upon Desjardins Group. Her conversation with the recruiter was brief, but Mouanga says she was intrigued by what she’d learned about Canada’s leading co-operative financial group.
The fact that Desjardins is member-run and is committed to the sustainable, socio-economic development of people and communities spoke to her values, she says. “I was really impressed that the needs of members, clients and customers come first.”
The timing was right for Mouanga, who’s originally from Brazzaville in Congo. She’d moved to Canada to further her studies and was investigating her options after she graduated. With a degree in business administration in hand, she started at Desjardins as a customer service agent in 2017.
Two years and two promotions later, Mouanga became a personal finance advisor with Desjardins Ontario Credit Union. She says she’s felt supported and encouraged at every step – and that hasn’t changed since the start of the pandemic when she began working a hybrid model, dividing her time between the office and home.
Mouanga, who’s now studying for a bachelor’s degree in accounting, says she appreciates how her manager accommodates her need for time for course work and to write exams. He has also challenged her to take on responsibilities outside her comfort zone.
Mouanga also enjoyed presenting information sessions to recent immigrants to the Ottawa area in Lingala, a widely spoken African language. She also speaks French, English and two languages spoken primarily in Congo.
Although credit unions were a new concept for many of those listeners, she says, they often return to open an account with Desjardins. “It makes me feel really glad that I’m able to help.”
Like Mouanga, vice president and chief transformation officer Mathieu Staniulis is grateful to all the managers and mentors over the years who ensured he took on challenges designed to help him grow.
Desjardins’s managers, he says, are skilled at supporting career and development, but that’s not the only reason they’ll always play a key role in guiding young careers. The co-operative is committed to helping employees reach their personal and professional goals.
“We’re not driven by quarterly results,” he adds. “Our people-first focus is built into our DNA.”
Staniulis first worked for Desjardins when he was in high school and had a summer job as a teller at his local branch. Throughout his university days, he worked part-time at a call centre. His rise through the ranks began soon after he became a full-time employee.
In 2010, Staniulis co-founded the Young Executives Network to support the personal and professional development of executives 35 and younger. It’s still going strong with some 400 members.
Today, his portfolio of responsibilities includes improving the client experience. It’s a complex endeavour given the rapid pace of change driven by both the pandemic and ground-breaking advances in technology.
Fortunately, Staniulis leads a program that orchestrates the efforts of over 1,000 employees from many sectors of the organization (online channels, branches, contact centres, marketing, human resources, manufacturers, etc.) working together in an agile mode to improve customer journeys and create a seamless experience.
There are plenty of other career challenges and opportunities at Desjardins. Indeed, with more than 800 types of jobs in banking, insurance, wealth management, IT and more, Staniulis insists there’s something for everyone.
“As an example of the wide variety of jobs, we also have a great art collection, so we need curators, too,” he says. “At Desjardins, we really want to see young people use all their skills and talents.”
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 Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2022):
- Desjardins Group set out to achieve gender parity in senior management as well as across the boards of directors of the caisse by 2024 -- and successfully achieved this in 2020 (women represent 50 per cent of senior management roles across the organization and 44.9 per cent of caisse boards of directors)
- The organization also recently launched a Canada-wide network called Empowering Women to facilitate networking and professional development (over 3,100 women and 100 allies have joined since the network's launch in 2021)
- Desjardins Group participates in "Un emploi en sol québécois," a program sponsored by the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec to help employ newcomers to the province
I just came back from my second maternity leave, and I still can't believe how lucky I am to work for such an amazing employer. Desjardins helps me reach my full potential by offering me lots of flexibility and competitive working conditions. Michelle Lapointe-Dubois, Talent Acquisition Advisor
Different perspectives unite the team at Desjardins
After nearly two years with Desjardins, first as an articling student and then as a lawyer, Katie Plante decided to take on a new challenge elsewhere. But after 18 months as legal counsel at another organization, she returned to the Desjardins fold.
“I missed the community feel,” says Plante, who’s been with Desjardins Insurance in Mississauga, Ont., since November 2020. “Everybody at Desjardins supports everyone else. You’re part of a team and it’s company wide.”
Now a manager in the Claims Commercial Partnerships team, Plante is responsible for managing the relationships with the law firms that represent Desjardins’s members and clients throughout their property, bodily injury and accident benefit claims.
As her career has progressed, so too have her activities as a social justice advocate. A member of the Nipissing First Nation in northeastern Ontario, Plante grew up in Timmins, Ont., knowing little about her background until she began exploring her family’s history while at university.
Plante adds that she didn’t feel safe coming out as a gay woman in her small hometown growing up. Since then, she’s become active in circles that support the rights of both the Indigenous and LGBTQ+ communities with which she identifies. This includes, for instance, helping organize Desjardins’s participation in Pride parades across Canada.
And now she’s sharing her views on those and other issues with the upper echelons of the organization. Since March 2021, she’s been a member of the Desjardins Youth Advisory Committee, which reports directly to the president and offers advice to the board of directors and management committee about what matters to young people.
“I’m proud my voice is being heard,” says Plante. “It’s important that our committee members come from different communities and that we share our different perspectives.”
At Canada's leading co-operative financial group, equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) is a defining value. And now the organization is raising the bar as a caring employer with a new four-year plan that aims, among other things, to achieve gender parity in senior management by 2024.
Desjardins has created what Salwa Salek describes as a “whole new ecosystem.” While EDI had been among her responsibilities in the human resources department, in September 2021 she was promoted to the newly created position of chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer.
She now helms an office dedicated entirely to EDI initiatives and activities. Salek says one challenge is wrangling the abundant flow of ideas from her passionate team of 16. “We're a fairly large group, but there’s so much we want to do, and we can’t be everywhere at once,” she says.
But as Salek points out, the commitment to EDI permeates Desjardins. Her office, she says, has the governance support of all eight executive vice-presidents. Thirteen ambassadors – one for each Desjardins group or unit – are also all committed to promoting EDI within and across sectors.
Desjardins also works collaboratively with outside organizations, including ones dedicated to fighting racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination. For instance, one group shared a tool kit it had created to further the understanding of gender transition, which Desjardins translated into French and shared back with them.
“Sharing insights and expertise is a win-win situation,” says Salek. “As a business, we face the same challenges that confront society. We need different voices at the table.
“We've done well, but we can always do better,” she continues. “As a community, we strive to have authentic and diverse perspectives represented. We will ensure that voices are amplified and heard. And we will fight for equity and justice. This is who we are and what we want to be, for our employees and our members and clients.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 19, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Desjardins Group / Mouvement Desjardins was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
- Desjardins introduced an alternative commuting program back in 2010, encouraging employees to use alternative transportation, including public transit with transit subsidies, carpooling with preferred parking, car-sharing through driver matching services, and cycling with secure parking and shower facilities -- and has installed over 225 electric vehicle charging stations
- Desjardins has financially supported municipal recycling programs across Québec for a number of years, and more recently introduced the formal company-wide RÉCÜP waste management program to ensure the proper recycling of most everything, including office furniture, e-waste, organics, a toner cartridge recycling partnership, construction waste, paper and cardboard, plastics and metal -- the program is managed by a full-time employee
- Desjardins recently launched an ambition carbon reduction plan in April 2021 with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2040 -- the plan includes training employees on the principles of sustainable development, supporting carbon-intensive sectors and increasing support for the renewable energy sector, and working with suppliers and partners to reduce the carbon footprint of its entire supply chain
Desjardins makes climate action a top priority
For an organization as large and diversified as Desjardins Group, being environmentally responsible is no small challenge. It’s a commitment with a direct impact on everything from Desjardins's infrastructure and operations to the financial products and services it offers.
But ask why it’s important to Canada's leading co-operative financial group to champion action on climate-related risks and opportunities and the answer is straightforward.
“Sustainability is a part of our DNA,” says Gildas Poissonnier, director, sustainable development and responsible finance. “For over 120 years, we’ve been improving our members’ lives.
“We hear regularly from our members and clients and 79 per cent of them expect us to be a leader in sustainability. The message is loud and clear.”
Founded in 1900, Desjardins has a democratic, member-run governance structure dedicated to the well-being of its members, clients and communities. The Québec-based organization had already been taking action to minimize its environmental impact for decades when it launched a plan to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its own operations (buildings, business travel, paper) to 20 per cent below 2018 levels by 2024.
Having met and surpassed many of its goals, Desjardins revised its target for operational GHG emissions to a 41 per cent reduction from 2019 levels by 2025. This commitment is part of an ambitious climate strategy to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 not only in its extended operations, but also in its lending activities and own investments in three key carbon-intensive sectors: energy, transportation and real estate.
Senior sustainability advisor Charles Bernardi says that number puts the environment first. “We asked ‘what do we need to do to contribute to achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate targets and limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees C?’ The answer is based on science.”
As well as reducing its own carbon footprint, Desjardins offsets remaining emissions by purchasing certified carbon offsets. And in partnership with Tree Canada, a national not-for-profit organization, Desjardins has planted some 25,000 native trees in the past year.
It’s one of a growing portfolio of partnerships that Desjardins has formed with like-minded charitable and educational organizations. Poissonnier says this reflects an evolution in the company’s strategy from focusing on matters it can control to extending its sphere of influence.
Desjardins helps its members and clients to have a positive impact as well. The company offers over 40 investment product options for individuals and businesses that want to support companies committed to environmental issues. This includes Desjardins's first sustainable bond, which its Finance and Treasury Group issued in September 2021.
“The power of co-operative action can lead us farther along the way to sustainable development and responsible consumption than any of us acting alone,” says Poissonnier. “With the tools we’re providing members, we’re helping them multiply the power of the co-op.”
Desjardins makes climate action a priority when investing its own assets as well. All of its direct investments in energy infrastructure, for example, are in renewable energy.
The decisions about which companies to invest in are made by integrating traditional financial analysis with reviews of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. Now Desjardins is preparing to move ESG beyond the executive suite and extend it to the grassroots.
To ensure ESG factors are applied to all its business decisions, Desjardins launched a mandatory ESG training program in early 2022. The goal, Bernardi says, is for 85 per cent of employees to complete the training by 2023.
“We have a lot of people in a lot of different divisions and we want every employee to be involved,” says Bernardi. “That’s a lot of business decisions every day.”