Inside Scotiabank's culture of inclusion

'We are building a bank that is strengthened by our differences – not divided by them'

Inside Scotiabank's culture of inclusion

Leaders of Scotiabank are adding to a chorus of voices from Canada’s top companies who are calling for an end to systemic racism and advocating for the advancement of underrepresented sectors.

This week, the bank signed the BlackNorth Initiative CEO pledge, which aims to level the playing field for disadvantaged members of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities as they break through the corporate world.

“For too long, many members of our communities have felt excluded from economic opportunities because of systemic racism, unconscious bias and discrimination,” Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter said.

“When there are individuals and communities that feel left out, we cannot be strong.”

Porter – along with Mark Mulroney, vice chairman of Scotia Capital – serves on the BlackNorth board of directors.

“We are building a bank that is strengthened by our differences – not divided by them – that calls out injustice of all forms when we see it, and that strives to use every opportunity to make better, stronger societies,” he said.

Read more: 'Leaders should look inwards – to create real change'

How to champion diversity and inclusion

Scotiabank said it will bolster its diversity and inclusion efforts across employee programs, business activities and community partnerships.

More than 50% of student hires, for example, come from BIPOC communities.

“The bank remains committed to this level of overall representation, with special emphasis being placed on representation of Black and Indigenous students going forward,” Scotiabank said.

Senior leaders are also being given the chance to listen directly to employees in Canada, the UK and the US who identify as BIPOC in an effort to understand their experiences better.

Apart from connecting employees with leaders, the bank has established 13 employee resource groups that give workers an avenue to “learn and affect change at the individual level”.

Read more: Why leaders fail to tackle racial bias

Other D&I initiatives at Scotiabank include:

  • Adding a “promotability flag” for all employees on the bank’s HR platform
  • Reviewing HR systems, policies and practices with a specific lens to BIPOC, gender, LGBT+ and people with disabilities
  • Interviewing and hiring candidates from the “broadest talent pools” for all levels

Scotiabank said it will also train managers and employees in identifying and reporting instances of racism to “build [their] confidence in speaking up about systemic racism, anti-Black racism, racial harassment and discrimination in the workplace”.

“The bank is moving to advance diversity and inclusion for our customers and employees through several important initiatives,” said Barb Mason, Scotiabank’s chief human resources officer.

“We have a long history of championing diversity and inclusion in every market in which we operate, and we are committed to taking meaningful steps to support the advancement of members of BIPOC communities,” she said.

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