By Wanda Brackins, Head, RBC Wealth Management—U.S. Diversity and Inclusion

When I consider the current state of diversity in business today, I’m reminded of something Tom Sagissor, president of RBC Wealth Management–U.S., wrote in a message to employees last year:

“An inclusive culture that promotes diversity in thought and perspective is imperative in today’s world, and it makes good business sense. While we have always believed in the importance of diversity and inclusion, believing isn’t enough. It’s time for action.”

For RBC Wealth Management—U.S., diversity and inclusion have been fundamental corporate values for many years. And I know we’re not alone in this. Studies show that more and more organizations are instituting diversity programs in the workplace because there’s a proven business case for it. Diverse and inclusive organizations are successful because their employees feel they can bring their whole selves to work. That fosters innovation, which leads to a high level of performance.

RBC Wealth Management—U.S., like many organizations, has long offered training, resources, and opportunities for employees to participate in and advance diversity and inclusion. We’ve provided support to our employee resource groups, as they build connections among the employee population and raise awareness of diverse groups. While these efforts are key to employee satisfaction and retention, they don’t necessarily lead to increased diversity representation.

That’s why it’s time to do more. We need to go beyond what has been done in the past if we want to truly make a difference in the future. One of the ways we’ve found we can best do that is by leveraging our executive leadership.

More than anyone or anything else in an organization, it’s our executives who can help move the dial on diverse representation and inclusion. It’s our executives who can step in, set bold goals, and lead by example. Their leadership from the top can filter down to create change in an organization.

Accountability is also important. If we really want to create an inclusive workplace and a diverse workforce, talk isn’t enough. Our leaders have to hold themselves, and others, accountable to the goals that we’re setting. We need to treat diversity just as we treat any other business priority, even if that means having difficult conversations or asking tough questions about where, why, and how we fall short.

At RBC Wealth Management—U.S., we recently saw what can happen when executive leadership is committed to advancing diversity. In 2018, we placed an emphasis on recruiting more women to financial advisor and branch leadership roles. Tom and our other executives embraced this goal, and made a concerted effort to support it throughout the year. They reinforced key messages on a regular basis. They celebrated creative ideas, like a special video campaign supporting a new recruitment process. And most importantly, they helped establish new accountability measures for branch leaders, who were evaluated on their efforts to increase diverse representation in their offices.

As a result of both the leadership and the new system of accountability, we successfully grew the number of women branch directors by 50 percent and substantially increased the number of female financial advisors at the firm. The number of women we hired in 2018 was more than any prior year, and double the amount we hired in 2017.

We certainly can’t rest on those results, though. I believe the success of that women’s recruiting initiative shows what’s possible when we place an emphasis on diversity, and when executives help lead the way. We hope to build on the success of that initiative this year, employing some of the same tactics to make a substantial increase in the number of people of color we recruit. And I’m looking forward to partnering with our executive leadership to see what we can accomplish.

Investment and insurance products offered through RBC Wealth Management are not insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency, are not deposits or other obligations of, or guaranteed by, a bank or any bank affiliate, and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of the principal amount invested.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

Wanda Brackins

Wanda Brackins

Head of Global Diversity at RBC Wealth Management. She is responsible for the creation, coordination and implementation of the firm’s global diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives that align with and support the overall business goals.