The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is prioritizing accessibility and inclusion in its new offices at CIBC Square in downtown Toronto.
“The building was formally announced in spring 2017, with design research starting shortly after that included consultation with 6,000 employees,” says Claudette Knight, vice-president of workplace design and transformation at CIBC. “The results of that survey clearly showed a need and desire to enhance well-being and inclusion features related to work spaces.”
The bank applied inclusive design principles that support flexibility and accessibility, inclusive programming and different ways of working, including height-adjustable desks, ergonomic chairs and adjustable computer monitor arms.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our accommodation requests before the move to CIBC Square were solved by the workspace design and hybrid working,” says Knight. “To champion different ways of working, we created a variety of spaces to support activity-based working, such as focus rooms and quiet spaces.”
CIBC also added accessibility features, which exceed legislative requirements, throughout the entire building. These include elevator destination dispatch with audio and visual indicators; accessible, all-gender washrooms on every floor; a relief area for service animals; and tactile and Braille signage for improved way-finding.
The company worked closely with its Workplace Accommodation and Ergonomics Program team to ensure it also addressed physical disabilities in the design of CIBC Square and the return to office. “We’re taking an inclusive design approach to the ways of working — whether it’s hybrid, remote or onsite — to enable employees to perform at their best,” says Knight. “Our approach helps promote a sense of belonging and is core to the inclusive culture we’re building.”
CIBC also hosts annual listening sessions to understand barriers faced by a number of talent segments, including team members living with disabilities, she says. “Listening exercises have focused on barriers created by remote and hybrid work, as well as concerns and considerations for return to work. Topics that are brought up during the listening exercises are leveraged to enhance our human capital strategy.”