The TD Bank Group is expanding its talent pool through partnerships that tap into the Black Professionals in Tech Network and FDM Group Inc.’s returnship program for technology workers.

When the bank was looking to hire more engineers in 2022, it tapped the BPTN to create a recruitment and training program specifically tailored to its needs, says Tim Clark, senior vice-president and chief information officer of TD’s commercial platforms, architecture and engineering department.

The partnership provides the bank with a pipeline of Black professionals with technology engineering skills. Over six months, TD and the BPTN developed a curriculum, hired and began training these new employees to work on real-world code patterns, specific to the banking industry. By December 2022, 37 employees graduated from the program, with another 100 workers currently in the pipeline.

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“This [program] just felt like [an] awesome way to actually bring in different people with different backgrounds,” says Clark, noting programs like this can fuel growth of very specialized and skilled employees.

To truly embrace diversity, he believes companies will need to open up the talent pool and develop the employees they’re seeking. “This partnership has allowed us to both naturally hire from the market and gain experienced people with a number of years of engineering experience, as well as create a pipeline that [helps] the organization grow . . . in diversity.”

The program also fosters talent from within, says Lekan Olawoye, the BPTN’s founder and chief executive officer, noting these employees continue networking through mentorships at the company and are provided with opportunities for upward mobility.

“We invest heavily in the further development of individuals once they’re actually inside the door,” adds Clark. “It’s a symbiotic relationship that we make sure is beneficial to all.”

The bank also brought in U.K.-based FDM Group to establish a returnship program in 2021 for people who’ve left their careers due to circumstances out of their control. While the program was designed with women caregivers who had to leave their careers during the coronavirus pandemic in mind, it’s open to anyone who has a significant gap in their resume.

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Participating employees receive professional in-house training to build on their existing tech skill sets, update their terminology and equip them with the tools required to feel confident in returning to work. FDM sources the talent, trains them for 14 weeks and deploys them for work at TD over two years, after which they’re hired on a permanent full-time basis.

Indeed, a majority (90 per cent) of the employees who go through the returnship program convert to permanent positions at the bank, says Jennifer Popkey, diversity and inclusion talent partner at TD Bank Group. “We’re meeting great talent that we might not otherwise have met through traditional means. There are candidates . . . coming in [and receiving] new training in a really supportive environment. . . . They’re hitting the ground running and we get the diversity in right away.

“We really are authentic when we say we want to represent the communities we serve,” she adds. “We know . . . equity deserving groups can struggle to get into a job through traditional means or . . . to even have access to training. This program offers them an opportunity to get that training with a more direct, succinct and personalized focus.”

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