Wanda Brackins

Wanda Brackins

Title: Head, Global Diversity
Company: RBC Wealth Management
Corporate Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Website: www.rbcwm-usa.com
Primary Business: Financial services
Revenues: $1.3 billion
Employees: 5,000

Vision of the Future

What diversity and inclusion challenges remain today?

In spite of the incredible strides that have been made in the area of diversity and inclusion over the last 20 years, the challenge of getting minorities into corporate leadership positions still exists. Increasing the representation of people of color in leadership positions is by far the greatest and longest- standing challenge that most organizations face today.

Employment laws have been enacted to promote equal opportunity in the workplace and affirmative action policies and initiatives have been implemented to ensure that positive steps are taken relative to women and minorities in areas of employment where they have been underrepresented or excluded. Within the last 20 years, corporations have begun to successfully implement and drive strategies for women and are realizing positive results. At RBC Wealth Management, women represent 36 percent of the directors group which is comprised of the 40 most-senior leaders in the firm, and 67 percent of the firm’s top executives. Yet, opportunities still exist for organizations to design programs to remove obstacles and barriers, real or perceived, that impede the progression of people of color.

What programs/initiatives work best for RBC Wealth Management that other companies can benchmark?

To seize the opportunity to increase the representation of people of color in senior leadership positions, RBC Wealth Management – U.S. has launched several initiatives, one of which is the Diversity Dialogues Reciprocal Mentoring Program. The purpose of the program is to aid in the professional development of high potential or promising people of color and to provide senior leaders with increased diversity awareness. The program is designed to help the organization build an internal pipeline of individuals who are prepared to move into leadership roles. The objective is to:

  • better position senior leaders to identify issues and lead and drive change efforts by deepening their understanding of barriers experienced or perceived by minority employees
  • accelerate the development of high potential or promising people of color
  • aid in the retention of people of color.

This 12-month program provides facilitated employee and senior leader mentor matching, discussion guidelines, resource material and support as needed. There also are coaching resources available to the mentor pairs as well as periodic assessments throughout the program. Although this program is still emerging, since the pilot was launched in 2008, over 13 percent of the firm’s employees of color have gone through the program and nearly 12 percent have been promoted to management positions.