TD Is Creating a Culture of Inclusion for All
By Tim Hockey, President and CEO, TD Canada Trust
Welcome to the first in a series of articles on what TD is doing to support people with disabilities. In this article, I’ll talk about why we feel that creating a diverse and inclusive culture is so important and highlight some of the exciting work we’re undertaking. In future articles, I’ll introduce you to people at TD who spend their days making the bank more accessible for our customers, clients and employees…and let them fill you in on all the details of what they’re doing.
Let’s start with why we’re focusing so much energy on diversity and inclusion. It’s a question we’re frequently asked, and it has more than one answer. First, it’s an important business initiative. For us, diversity is about TD being the bank of choice for our customers. The reality is that diversity helps us remain competitive in this increasingly competitive world. We know that customers want to see themselves reflected in our employees. If customers—in all their diversity—see themselves represented in our employee base, they’ll feel more comfortable doing business with us. We know we have to be a place where they feel comfortable and we’re committed to doing everything we can to improve their access to our services.
Second, diversity is also about being the employer of choice. There’s a war for talent. We want the brightest and most talented employees, and we need to tap every available talent pool. Diversity helps us be more powerful, flexible and sustainable by giving us access to the most diverse and creative thinking possible. But it’s not just about attracting employees and customers—it’s also about keeping them.
We also look at our focus on diversity and inclusion as a positive catalyst for social change. We believe that by demonstrating the value that TD places on it, we can send a powerful and visible message of encouragement to other organizations, governments, customers and the communities we serve. And third, but no less important, we believe that this is a moral imperative—it’s simply the right thing to do.
Fostering diversity has been important to TD for many years, but we found that we weren’t making the progress we wanted. So, in 2005 we made it a strategic business priority—to make sure it was embedded in everything we do and wouldn’t drop off the agenda in tough times. We set up a Diversity Leadership Council made up of senior leaders, and established committees to focus on key areas:
- Expanding leadership opportunities for women and for members of visible minority groups
- Enhancing opportunities for people who have disabilities and for Aboriginal Peoples
- Creating a more inclusive environment for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
- Serving diverse communities
I have the privilege of chairing the committee focused on people with disabilities. We’ve made a lot of progress in recent years and have recorded a number of “firsts.” We were the first Canadian bank to have a website dedicated to accessible customer service; to have assistive technology lab facilities to test and certify new equipment; to have a fully accessible ATM network; and to have an on-staff ASL interpreter for employees.
I’m also very proud of the actions we’ve taken to improve the accessibility of our branches, and of our ongoing support of community organizations that are focused on the full inclusion of people with disabilities, such as CNIB and the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons.
Have these changes made a difference? Absolutely. Since we began to focus on making TD more accessible, we’ve made banking more comfortable for all of our customers, and we’re finding that our employees are more willing to talk about their disabilities.
Is TD where it wants to be? Not yet. We’ve discovered that the issues are a lot more complex than we had first anticipated. No two disabilities are alike, and we have to take a customized approach wherever possible. We also have more work to do for our employees with disabilities— creating equal access to meaningful careers, not just access to jobs, and making the accommodation process simpler and less time-consuming.
We’re not afraid to try new things, even though we know we’ll make mistakes along the way. The key is to learn from our mistakes. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we know that ongoing conversations are part of the solution. They help people see ability instead of disability.
We’re on a journey, and we’ve made significant progress, but we know we have to keep building on the momentum and foundation that we’ve laid. As our population ages, accessibility will become an issue for every one of us, either personally or for family members. As a result, we know that accessibility in everything we do is an investment in the future of our business and the communities we serve.