Banking on Diversity and Inclusion

From the #MeToo movement and efforts to close the wage gap to initiatives designed to recognize the contributions of the LGBTQ community, diversity and inclusion has been at “warp speed” these past few years, according to Kelley Cornish, head of global diversity and inclusion for Toronto-based TD Bank Group.

As a result, D&I professionals are challenged to find new and innovative ways to ensure their organizations are truly celebrating all individuals, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual preference or disability, and cultivating their talents.

Rather than viewing such demands as challenges, Cornish considers them opportunities to “be creative” and “create a culture of inclusiveness where people can maximize their potential.” As TD Bank has worked to realize and tap into the full potential of an increasingly diverse workforce, three key learnings have emerged that are helping to guide the organization’s T&D initiatives:

  1. Organizations with the most gender diverse leadership teams are outperforming on profitability: With research increasingly demonstrating that a mix of male and female leadership results in greater profits, TD has strengthened its resolve to embed gender neutrality in all of its procedures and processes. Recognizing that “women will not apply for certain roles if they feel they are geared towards men,” the company invested in a software program to ensure that job descriptions are gender neutral, says Cornish. Last year, TD launched a new program focused on developing female leaders in its commercial banking function and also began engaging men in conversations around female leadership. “Gone are the days when women would just get in a room and talk about it,” says Cornish. “Men are involved in our revenue-generating lines and they can really help us in this, so we decided to bring them to the table.”
  2. Need for collaboration and intersectionality: Once all the rage, employee resource groups dedicated to specific segments of the workforce—women, minorities, LGBTQ employees, people with disabilities, etc.—have been falling by the wayside, as younger workers, in particular, fall into more than one classification. “I could be a veteran woman that’s African-American,” explains Cornish. “Which group do you want me to participate in?” While some employers have eliminated ERGs altogether, TD Bank has chosen to promote events, summits, or leadership opportunities in which everyone can be involved. “We feel that level of intersectionality will allow us to get traction even faster,” says Cornish.
  3. Diversity and inclusion program accountability: An effective diversity and inclusion initiative requires accountability, leading Cornish’s team to hold all of its programming “under a microscope,” culling data on key markers, like hiring, promotions and retention, along with findings from Pulse, the company’s employee engagement survey. That information is then shared with the appropriate stakeholders, such as area focus committees and the Inclusion and Diversity Leadership Council, comprised of senior executives, which meets six times per year.

“The external environment is pushing into corporate America and making demands we cannot ignore,” says Cornish. “Laws are being passed, movements are happening, and we are trying to be a visionary and look around what the corner to see what’s coming next.”

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Julie Cook Ramirez
Julie Cook Ramirez is a Rockford, Ill.-based journalist and copywriter covering all aspects of human resources. She can be reached at