At TD, the journey to creating an even more inclusive and diverse work environment isn’t just a strategic imperative – it’s at the very heart of the organization’s core values. Fostering an inclusive and accessible environment where everyone feels welcome is essential to attracting and retaining the best talent. It also helps to achieve greater engagement with both customers and employees, and to expand capacity for innovation, driving better results. The bank’s goal is to ensure that inclusion and diversity are embedded as much as possible into every aspect of the business, including workplace practices, customer relationshipsand community involvement.

And while a lot of progress has been made in inclusion and diversity at the bank over the past decade, TD knows there’s still room to improve.

“While diverse representation remains important, we have a long way to go towards increasing women’s engagement and advancement,” says Vivian Abdelmessih, Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, Canadian Banking, TD Bank.

Research shows that women across many industries are primarily in support and relationship roles rather than management roles and that conscious and unconscious biases against women remain as barriers to entrance for many.

“To build a truly inclusive workplace we need to make some fundamental changes to how we define success and what leadership looks like,” adds Abdelmessih. “Hiring a diverse slate of employees is just the first step. We also have a role to play in ensuring that we foster a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and has a sense of belonging and opportunity.”

Abdelmessih says that organizations need to develop their talent by training diversity and inclusion-savvy leaders to give them the skills and capabilities required to build and lead diverse teams.  “People need to be given tools and understanding so they can not only successfully manage across differences but gain the benefits of diversity within their teams,” she says.

Abdelmessih acknowledges that representation in top levels of leadership plays a key role.  “The differences among us can impact the trajectory of our career. If you never see someone like you in a leadership position, it’s hard to think you can ever achieve that level of success. That’s one of the reasons why role models are so important. They change the realm of possibility and embolden others to believe that they, too, can get there.”

Abdelmessih is encouraged that conversations about diversity and inclusivity are evolving.  “Every one of us has a role to play to help close the gaps between us,” she says. “We are changing people’s lives for the better by acknowledging inclusion, and in turn, highlighting opportunities for women and diverse groups that may not have been considered in the past.”