At Benefits Canada‘s 2019 Workplace Benefits, Scotiabank was recognized in the diversity category for a focus that’s “thoughtful” and “fulsome,” according to judges.

“I think it’s becoming well-known — and research shows — that more diverse organizations perform better against their peers and are in the top quartile and in all sorts of different metrics,” said Simone Reitzes, the bank’s vice-president of global pension and benefits, at the event in Toronto on Oct. 17.

“So knowing that, we’re allowing all of our employees to strive to be the globally diverse workforce of choice. . . . Helping our employees come to work, bringing their best selves to work, is really what helps them perform at their very best, and in turn helps us really deliver the most value we can to our customers, to our employees and to our shareholders.”

Read: Scotiabank looks to employee data to tackle gender diversity

Fostering an inclusive environment begins with upper management, she says. “It starts at the top with our CEO and being one of the first large organizations to sign on to these really powerful UN initiatives — like the United Nations’ standards of conduct for tackling discrimination against LGBTI people and the UN’s women’s empowerment principles — really sets the tone for the whole organization around our values. And . . . we hope that we can motivate other organizations to do the same thing for their employees and really change the culture and how employees respond to the programs and the initiatives overall.”

A key area of focus for Scotiabank’s diversity strategy was becoming more trans-inclusive, which is part of its policy of fostering an inclusive environment. As Benefits Canada featured earlier this year, the organization supported an employee through gender transition and expanded its efforts to incorporate gender identity and gender expression into its global mandatory inclusion training. The company also launched guidelines for Canadian gender transition in the workplace, as well as enhancements to its total rewards program.

Read: How Scotiabank supported an employee’s gender transition

Another important aspect of Scotiabank’s diversity strategy is the development of strong community partnership, with a focus on promoting the potential of LGBT+ youth. This includes mentoring students with career interests in financial services and participating and hosting LGBT+ women speaker series and panel events.

Employee response to these diversity and inclusion initiatives has been entirely positive, says Reitzes. “Every employee at the bank now goes through mandatory inclusion training each year.”

And for her, that makes perfect sense. “We’re a bank, we manage risk. We go through mandatory anti-money laundering training and compliance training, and to put inclusion training up there in terms of priorities on that list of what’s mandatory for every single employee in our organization is to know and live our values.”

Read: How to use benefits to support diversity and inclusion

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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