Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 11, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2022) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2022):
- RBC recently increased its maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers as well as parental leave top-ups for adoptive parents and new fathers, to 100 per cent of salary for 12 weeks
- RBC developed the "Live, Learn, Lead Together" employee hub in response to having employees working from home for an extended period of time -- the hub features videos, articles and guides, as well as hosting webinars on a range of timely topics for employees working remotely, from individual mental health and well-being to engaging remote teams, to leading through uncertainty
- Through RBC's in-house "Wellness+" program, the bank encourages employees to adopt healthy habits, rewarding healthy behaviour with credits to a personal wellness account -- additionally, the bank published the "RBC Blueprint for Well-being and Mental Health" to promote mental health and well-being of all employees and recently increased the mental health benefit to $5,000 annually
How people work, not where, matters most at RBC
Like the majority of RBC employees, Colleen Tam had been working from home since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020. As a member of RBC’s global technology & operations team, she worked with those whose tireless efforts helped to ensure that colleagues worldwide could also work remotely, both safely and efficiently.
Then in January 2021, Tam took on a new challenge – director, return to premises & future of work transformation. Tam says RBC’s virtual collaboration technologies and other digital tools enabled her and her new teammates to work well together. Even so, they missed the serendipity of “watercooler collisions” and other informal face-to-face encounters.
They got an opportunity, one day in September, at RBC’s WaterPark Place on the Toronto waterfront. “That first in-office experience felt like the first day of school,” says Tam. “We were all so excited to finally meet in-person and to be in the office together again. We even went out as a team for a snack afterwards.”
Tam’s work is just one indication of the significant resources RBC is dedicating to finding the best way forward in a permanently altered, yet still unsettled, workplace landscape. It’s a pressing matter, but for Lauren Friese, vice president, future of work and culture, there are a lot of positives.
The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to new possibilities, she says.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-think how we work,” says Friese. “It’s employees’ ideas that drive RBC’s success, not where they come up with them.”
To help inform that thinking, RBC has been soliciting feedback from employees. This involves ongoing pulse surveys, targeted interviews, and other initiatives. “We’ve been doing a lot of listening,” says Friese.
The clear message: some employees are eager to get back to the office full time, others have little desire to join them and many are happy to work where circumstances demand at different times.
With that and other factors in mind, RBC has determined that flexible and hybrid work models are here to stay. The goal is to hang on to the best elements of working remotely and recapture best practices from pre-pandemic days, Friese says. This includes maintaining RBC’s culture of inclusivity and continuous learning, while enabling trust and support for employees to do their best work wherever they are.
So there’s no overarching mandate for how and when people must work. Instead, Friese says, RBC’s diverse businesses and teams are basing their decisions on what’s best for their clients, communities and employees.
One of Canada’s largest employers, RBC also has operations in 28 countries globally. Personal & commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, capital markets, functional groups and other teams all offer an array of career opportunities.
Although still working largely off-site, Tam and her team have been meeting in real life more often since their first encounter and she expects their plans will continue to change. It’s also likely the pandemic will continue to evolve and as a result health and safety protocols may need updating.
The fact that RBC has taken such variability into account while encouraging new ways of working leads Tam to think it’s on the right track.
“Nobody has a crystal ball,” she says. “RBC’s test-and-learn mentality just makes sense.”
At RBC, mental well-being is everybody’s business
I t’s not in any written job description at RBC, but for Erica Spear, banishing the elephant in the room is implicit in her role as senior manager, global wellness. The elephant in question is the stigma associated with mental illness.
While attitudes are changing, Spear says, fear of feeling stigmatized still prevents too many people from seeking the help they need.
RBC has always prioritized a healthy workplace, but recommitted to mental health with the launch of its blueprint for employee well-being in 2017. While this commitment explicitly included promoting mental as well as physical health, Spear says, RBC has stepped up its mental health programming even further since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s important that people who are stressed and anxious feel heard and supported with tools and resources that meet their needs,” Spear says. “We want to reaffirm the message that mental health is health.”
Mental health issues have been a personal passion since her university days, Spear says. Classmates who were struggling academically could get help, but there was nothing for those feeling anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, and some ended up dropping out. Calling the discrepancy “incredible,” Spear started a peer-support program.
In her role, Spear works with more than 500 wellness champions around the world, including 230 in the Toronto area alone. Their feedback, as well as pulse surveys and other initiatives, help identify employees’ concerns and expectations.
“We have excellent ears to the ground,” says Spear, who, while still tending to the well-being of others, is doing so on a vastly different scale.
RBC, one of Canada’s largest employers, also has operations in 28 other countries globally. When it decides to take direct action toward positive change, it has a track record of devoting the resources needed to make an impact.
The measures RBC took to help employees cope with pandemic-related stressors are a case in point. The initiatives include increasing core psychology benefits to $5,000 from $3,000 per plan member and for each of their family members, offering webinars focused on mental health and well-being, providing one year access to the Headspace app and giving employees an extra day off in 2021.
RBC also ramped up mental health training for its leadership, particularly for people managers who, as a group, have routine contact with nearly 80 per cent of employees. The managers were provided with resources to help talk openly about their own issues and concerns and speak empathetically with others, Spear says.
David Schwarz, senior vice president, compensation and benefits, says modelling those behaviors goes a long way in reducing stigma. “The goal is to normalize the conversation,” he says. “We are all perfectly human and people need to know it’s OK to not be OK.”
“Today RBC takes a more proactive, holistic approach to physical and mental health, reinforcing the role leaders play across the organization in supporting wellness and resiliency,” Schwarz says. “It’s essential that employee health and wellness be extended and integrated in our overall talent and culture strategies, and not solely viewed through a traditional benefits lens.”
“All of this comes back to RBC’s culture,” Schwarz says. “We believe that healthier employees tend to be more effective and purposeful in their workday, and the impacts go beyond our workplace. Individuals, their families and the wider community, they all benefit.”
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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2022):
- RBC established a dedicated Indigenous student awards program, providing $4,000 annually to recipients for a maximum of four years, and also manages an Indigenous student internship program to provide first hand experience in various areas of operation including finance, sales and services, IT, and marketing (to name a few)
- Recent university and college graduates can acquire career-level experience through RBC's Career Launch Program, a one-year paid internship for graduates under the age of 24 -- the program features rotations in corporate offices, mentorship, professional networking and community experience via a short-term placement with a Canadian charity -- program participants also participate in the Next Great Social Innovator Challenge, a capstone learning event that invites associates to apply design-thinking skills to solve a real-world challenge
- RBC manages a two-year Leadership Development Program designed to build future leaders in audit, enterprise, finance, personal and commercial banking, and risk -- the program builds leadership skills through experiential learning, formal training, coaching, mentoring, and includes four six-month rotations where participants work with leaders on stretch assignments
RBC aims to break the ‘no experience, no job’ cycle
For Lamia Bin Zayyad, a one-year paid internship with RBC in 2020 was not only an opportunity to develop new work skills. The connections she made with other associates in the RBC Career Launch Program led to full-time work – and an important lesson about networking.
Bin Zayyad had completed the rotational program and was working on contract with RBC in her hometown of Calgary when another associate from the 2020 cohort pointed out a job posting
she hadn’t seen. She jumped at the opportunity.
“Without that connection, I might not have gotten this job,” says Bin Zayyad, an associate account manager with RBC in Vancouver. “Before that, I was always concerned that there was something fake or forced about networking. I found out it’s really about helping one another.”
All told, RBC helps thousands of young people each year gain practical work experience through summer jobs and co-op placements, as well as internships. Managers and mentors also help
guide career decisions via coaching and feedback.
Alan Richardson, vice president of learning & performance, says that even though young people are spending more on schooling and have more credentials, they’re frequently caught in the “no
experience, no job” cycle.
“RBC is committed to helping them overcome that barrier and to providing meaningful job opportunities that can help them succeed in a fast-changing global economy,” he says.
Since it was introduced in 2013, the Career Launch Program has helped more than 800 recent graduates with the transition from school to work. It’s clearly a career accelerator, Richardson says,
pointing to research that shows over 80 per cent of those surveyed were employed six months afterward.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first shut down many workplaces in Canada in March 2020, RBC moved quickly to reassure the program’s incoming associates the bank would honor its commitment to them.
It was welcome news for Bin Zayyad, who had graduated with a degree in business administration several months earlier. Not all her friends had found jobs and many of those who had were suddenly unemployed again.
“RBC basically guaranteed our jobs and told us not to worry,” she says. “It was, surprisingly, not a stressful process.”
It was a different situation for Richardson and his team. The lockdown occurred just 10 days before the program’s scheduled start date – not a lot of time to develop a safe and purposeful virtual workplace experience.
The program offers three rotations tailored to provide different learning experiences. The first six-month rotation was shifted from the branches to virtual placements with RBC’s Wealth Management and Personal & Commercial Banking operations. For the next two, RBC’s head office teams and its charitable community partners eagerly made the switch from in-person to virtual placements.
RBC has continued to innovate and fine-tune the logistics of training young people in a virtual environment and, in March 2021, onboarded a second cohort during the pandemic. With associates in 18 communities across Canada, RBC made sure they could gain remote access and rolled out initiatives to help them build a virtual network and feel integrated in the virtual workplace.
RBC also launched a series of virtual professional development sessions and, to help with their personal growth, provided information on resilience and emotional intelligence and growth.
In fact, RBC will assist any organization that wants to copy the Career Launch Program, Richardson says.
“As we shift to a skills economy, it’s absolutely imperative we help prepare as many young people as possible for the jobs of the future,” he explains. “That’s especially important as those jobs transition from in-person to hybrid and virtual.”
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 Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Best Diversity Employers (2022):
- As part of RBC's recent action plan against systemic racism, the bank increased its staffing goals for BIPOC executives from 20 per cent to 30 per cent and is committing 40 per cent of all RBC summer opportunities to BIPOC youth (the bank exceeded this goal in 2021)
- RBC is committed to developing Indigenous talent pipelines through a dedicated Indigenous summer internship program to provide on-the-job learning and training to post-secondary students -- additionally, the bank manages a two-year Indigenous peoples development program for early-in-career Indigenous talent, providing exposure to various areas of the banks operations
- RBC maintains an intranet resource called Destination Diversity, which features extensive self-study materials (including recently added resources on anti-racism and allyship) and launched a Diversity Dialogues podcast series, a platform for ERG leaders and diversity champions and advocates to share stories and thoughts
RBC is deeply engaged in the reconciliation process
At a time when RBC is taking significant action to honour its commitment to reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples, one measure in particular stands out for mortgage specialist Jessica Shute – the appointment of Roberta Jamieson to the bank’s board of directors.
The first Indigenous woman to earn a law degree in Canada, Jamieson brings impressive achievements in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to the role. For Shute, a member of the Couchiching First Nation, seeing a strong Indigenous woman take a seat at the table has both practical and symbolic significance.
“Indigenous women are natural leaders,” she says. “They were the leaders of our communities until colonialism stripped them of that role.”
When the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its report into the tragic legacy of Canada’s residential school system in 2015, RBC pledged to honour the commission’s 94 calls to action – particularly Call 92, to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to create long-term, sustainable economic development, employment, social impact and procurement opportunities.
Gopal Bansal, vice president, diversity & inclusion (D&I), says RBC’s history of partnering with Indigenous peoples dates back to 1910, when it opened the first bank branch in a remote area of northern British Columbia where it served the Gitxsan First Nation.
In the decades since, he adds, RBC has instituted numerous purpose-driven policies and programs to help Indigenous clients thrive and their communities prosper. RBC is now enhancing some of those initiatives.
This includes the scholarships RBC has provided for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students to complete post-secondary education since 1992. It has doubled the value of the 20 annual scholarships to $10,000 each under its Future Launch Scholarship for Indigenous Youth program.
RBC is also reaffirming its TRC commitments with innovative new undertakings. Bansal says that the “we know best” days of expecting people to simply accept what’s presented to them are long past.
“You have to listen before you respond and you have to engage before you act,” he says in reference to how RBC participates in meaningful consultation and collaboration as it works to address the challenges many Indigenous people still face.
That was the case when the bank launched RBC’s Indigenous Mentoring Experience (RIME) in 2017 after Indigenous employees indicated they wanted mentoring that addresses their specific needs. RIME provides support to those who may be seeking familiarity and a safe place with other Indigenous employees, says Bansal.
It also offers reciprocal mentoring among Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, enabling cross-cultural learning and access to career advice. In all, nearly 500 colleagues have participated in the program, sharing experiences, providing support and learning from one another.
Indeed, Bansal says working with and learning from Indigenous employees has helped to create a safe and inclusive workplace for all employees. RBC’s first employee resource group (ERG), for example, was the Royal Eagles, established in 1990 for Indigenous employees. It has served as the role model for all the ERGs that followed, he says.
As part of all employees’ learning and development, RBC has made the online course 4 Seasons of Reconciliation available to all employees. The nine-module course from the First Nations University of Canada presents Indigenous realities and histories in a way that is easy to understand, Bansal says.
“We want our Indigenous colleagues to know their voices are being heard and their contributions are highly valued,” he adds.
Shute, who’s 12 years into her career with RBC, says she’s noticing a different atmosphere at work. “There’s a more open dialogue and a real interest in the true history of Canada,” she says. “That positivity helps me feel a real sense of pride.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 19, 2022)
Here are some of the reasons why Royal Bank of Canada was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2022):
- Along with dedicated financial products and services for clients in the renewable energy, cleantech and low carbon sectors, RBC has introduced a number of green building features at locations across the bank, including green roofs, solar electricity panel installations, rainwater collection, LED lighting retrofits -- and as part of its formal environmental blueprint, the bank continues to increase the amount of LEED-certified office space it occupies
- As outlined in its formal RBC Climate Blueprint, RBC has committed to providing $500-billion in sustainable financing by 2025 and has already provided over $100-billion in sustainable finance in support of clients in the transition to the development of lower-carbon products and services -- and provided $8.8-billion in financing for sustainable bonds and loans in 2020, which is a 64 per cent growth over 2019
- RBC recently set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets of 70 per cent along with plans to increase the sourcing of electricity from renewable and non-emitting sources to 100 per cent by 2025 -- the bank has also entered into a partnership with BluEarth Renewables that features the construction of two new solar farms in Alberta that will provide roughly 80,000 MWh of renewable energy or enough to power more than 6,400 homes annually
RBC embraces the challenge of reaching net zero
Throughout months of meticulous planning, Rachel MacLeod and her enthusiastic cross-functional team at RBC worked hard to ensure the bank’s first Virtual Earth Day Challenge would be a success. RBC is committed to helping build a sustainable economy for future generations and the team wanted the Challenge to be a fun and inspiring step on that journey for their co-workers worldwide.
Still, MacLeod, senior manager, corporate citizenship communications, says it’s always difficult to predict how any global engagement initiative will turn out. Adding to the uncertainty was how the pandemic and its attendant disruptions meant people had lots of other things on their minds.
As luck would have it, in the days ahead of the 2021 launch of the three-week event, employees from many RBC business units contacted the team to request a preview of the Challenge’s planned activities. They wanted to make sure they’d have content ready on Day 1, Macleod says.
In all, more than 10,500 RBC employees from 19 countries completed over 45,000 activities. RBC rewarded participants with up to $150 each to direct to the eligible charity of their choice, so those who took part also unlocked more than $800,000 in charitable donations.
“RBCers enthusiastically embraced all aspects of the Challenge, doing something together from afar,” says MacLeod. “The workplace culture here is really something special.”
Calling climate change one of the most pressing issues of our time, RBC has made helping clients and communities through an inclusive and orderly transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 a core business priority. Enabling employees to learn about RBC’s far-reaching sustainability and climate initiatives and ensuring they understand what it all means for them as part of the company was at the core of the Challenge.
“People don’t necessarily associate banks with addressing climate change,” says Alex Boulos, vice president, climate. “But RBC believes that capital can be a force for positive change and governments and corporations will play a critical role. But raising awareness overall is also critical and individual actions matter, and that means everyone at the bank has a part to play in contributing to a more prosperous future.”
In 2019, RBC introduced its Climate Blueprint, a comprehensive strategy with short-and long-term actions and commitments supporting its net-zero goal. One key undertaking, providing $100 billion in sustainable finance by 2025, was so successful, so quickly, that RBC upped its target to $500 billion by 2025, the largest such commitment in Canada.
In another significant undertaking, Tech for Nature, RBC is bringing together universities and not-for-profit organizations and leveraging its own capabilities in areas such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and app development in the pursuit of innovative, technology-based solutions to pressing environmental challenges. The program supports over 110 partners, with more than $27 million invested since 2019.
To present the depth and breadth of all those commitments without overwhelming Challenge participants, MacLeod and her team turned to myCommunity, RBC’s global platform that facilitates employees taking positive action and supporting their communities.
Options for them to accommodate differences in learning styles included reading relevant articles and the RBC Climate Blueprint, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, MacLeod says. Participants were then encouraged to make donations or volunteer at work, home and in the community to protect the planet. In the final step, they shared photos of their experiences as well as their own ideas for combating climate change.
The employee feedback has kept the momentum going throughout the year and is helping to inform planning for the next Earth Day Challenge, MacLeod says. “RBCers’ passion for taking action and sharing what they’ve learned is really inspiring.”