RBC make inroads into diversity

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, last year, women made up less than a third of personal financial advisors, 35 per cent of financial analysts and 39 per cent of workers in the securities, commodities, and fund management business. Similarly, the 2010 Catalyst Census of Women Executive Officers found that women comprised less than a quarter of all senior officers in the financial services and insurance industries. It is an imbalance that many companies are keen to rectify.

One company that has had considerable success in this area is RBC, Canada’s largest bank and the country’s biggest corporation, with 77,000 employees. The number of women in executive roles at the company rose from 28 per cent in 2000 to 37 per cent last year. Nearly 40 per cent of RBC executives in North America are women, who in total hold more than half of management roles there.

I spoke with Wanda Brackins, head of RBC Wealth Management Global Diversity, who told me that the bank’s efforts in this area are partly due to changing demographics.

“We are a company that is built on relationships, and we are [increasingly selling financial products] to underserved segments of the population, such as Hispanics, African-Americans and women. Our client base is  diverse, and we needed to diversify our workforce to represent that.”

Brackins says that prospective clients often ask how many women managers there are at the company and how RBC is addressing diversity.

“Our customers want to know that our firm hires women, and understands women.”

The biggest change RBC has made to aid women’s advancement is to ensure that lists of candidates for each job vacancy include at least one woman. This has put the onus on recruiters to deliver qualified women applicants and has increased accountability among hiring managers to ensure fairer practices. The bank also aims to include women in one of every two positions at both senior manager and executive levels.

Another programme is RBC’s “reciprocal mentoring” scheme, which matches high-potential women and ethnic minorites with senior leaders who offer them career advice. It is reciprocal because the “mentors get an insight into the roadblocks that these groups face as they progress in the organisation,” she says.

Brackins is also 2011 chairwoman of the diversity committee for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which will later this year release the findings of a survey it conducted to determine the impact of the economic crisis on diversity in the financial services industry.

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.
 

The 'Women at the Top' blog is part of a series of online and print publications that focuses on women's achievements in business. With up-to-date news and incisive analysis, the blog will provoke discussion on the role of the world's most prominent businesswomen. www.ft.com/womenblog

For more Women at the Top news, video interviews and other features, visit www.ft.com/womenatthetop

VIDEOS

About our bloggers

Liz Bolshaw

Liz Bolshaw is a business journalist and editor. She has been a successful book publisher, online editor, magazine editor and publisher.

She was launch editor of the Europe-wide online community Entrepreneur Country, has published magazines for PwC, 3i, dunhill and Bafta, and launched The Sharp Edge, a magazine for and about entrepreneurs, with Duncan Bannatyne. She is a regular contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Venture Capital Journal.

Her last project for the Financial Times was as editor of the paper’s Business Education magazine.

Rebecca Knight

Rebecca Knight is a freelance journalist based in Boston. She writes regularly for the FT on business education, entrepreneurship, and management.

Andrew Hill

Andrew Hill is an associate editor and the management editor of the FT. He was City editor of the FT and editor of the daily Lombard column on British business and finance from September 2006 to December 2010.

He was the FT’s financial editor from June 2005 to September 2006, with overall responsibility for coverage of companies and markets. Before becoming financial editor, he was the FT’s comment & analysis editor, in charge of the paper’s opinion and features pages.

From 1999 to 2003, he was the FT’s New York bureau chief. He joined the FT in 1988 and has also worked as foreign news editor, UK companies reporter and correspondent in Brussels and Milan.

Pino Bethencourt

Pino Bethencourt is a professor and leadership expert at IE Business School in Madrid. She is also an author and executive coach.

Lynda Gratton

Lynda Gratton is professor of management practice at London Business School.

Linda Tarr-Whelan

Linda Tarr-Whelan, former ambassador to the UN commission on the status of women, is a Demos distinguished senior fellow.