John Taft

John Taft
CEO, RBC Wealth Management-U.S.

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Education: BA, Yale University;
Master’s degree in public and private management from Yale School of Organization and Management
First Job: Reporter for the Taos (New Mexico) News
What I’m Reading: The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
My Philosophy: Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Creating a connected world

Diversity and inclusion are core values of mine and of RBC. My actions as a leader reflect those values in the workplace and in the communities we serve. In today’s competitive environment, it is vital to attract and retain talented professionals to compete and to serve increasingly diverse clients.

Our firm’s success is driven by our people. To help promote inclusiveness, our field leaders, employee resource groups, and diversity councils are ambassadors whose activities demonstrate equality and respect. We lead and participate in diversity events to help make a positive impact in local communities. We imbed diversity into our business goals, and we promote diversity success.

As an example, for the fourth year, RBC Wealth Management–U.S. achieved a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for its 2014 Corporate Equality Index as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Of all the honors and awards the company has received, this is one of which I am most proud. To me, this shows that our firm doesn’t just say we value diversity; we take steps to incorporate diversity and inclusion into our corporate culture.

Yet, we need to do more, because the biggest challenge in managinga diverse workforce is creating and maintaining a work environment—regardless of location—where each employee’s uniqueness is valued. This begins with creating more awareness of “unconscious bias” which is an unconscious preference for or against a person, thing, or group. Despite best intentions, people may unconsciously stifle diversity through words or actions. Educating our employees to address these unintentional biases is critical to maintaining a workplace where employees can thrive.

Leadership matters. In 2012, when I added my voice to the fight against the Minnesota Marriage Amendment—an amendment that would have “hard wired” into the state constitution that marriage can only be between a man and a woman—it was with the business community in mind. Minnesota has long prided itself on being progressive, welcoming and inclusive. Hanging a “You’re not wanted” sign on the front lawn of Minnesota would have been bad for business and bad for the state. Equally, failing to incorporate a culture of inclusion in the workplace has the same result—making high-quality employees feel unwelcome.

In a competitive market, creating a company where people want to work and where clients want to do business, is key to sustained success.