Why TD Bank Group prizes its ‘kaleidoscope of generations’ at work

The bank's head of D&I shares secrets to success of managing a diverse, global workforce.
By: | April 10, 2020 • 5 min read
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

While diversity and inclusion may have been pushed off of HR’s center stage by the coronavirus pandemic, these are issues that will continue to need strong leadership, both during and after the current crisis.

At TD Bank Group, diversity and inclusion are taken seriously. The Toronto-based global financial-services company’s U.S. operation consistently ranks among the top organizations for D&I. TD Bank scored 100% for the fifth year in a row on the latest Disability Equality Index, a national benchmark that ranks organizations on their practices related to disability inclusion and workplace equality. The company is ranked at No. 19 on DiversityInc’s latest Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, up 15 spots from 2018.

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In addition to attracting and retaining a wide variety of talent, TD Bank Group must also continue to meet its customers’ needs and expectations in a fast-changing banking environment. Apps, for example, are becoming increasingly critical as more customers transition to managing their finances on mobile devices.

Girish Ganesan, TD Bank Group’s global head of diversity and inclusion and head of talent at its U.S. division, plays a vital role in making sure all of this happens.

“We have every generation represented in our workforce,” he says, adding that more than half is comprised of Gen Z and millennials. “Today’s workforce is a kaleidoscope of generations, and different generations have different needs.”

With close to 30,000 employees in the U.S. and a total of 85,000 globally, TD Bank Group must devote serious resources to ensure the wide spectrum of people it employs feel valued and respected and have the tools and training to work harmoniously together. Ganesan’s job is to help make this happen. Human Resource Executive® recently spoke with him to learn more about how the company is working to ensure that its wide cross-section of talent helps the organization thrive today and in the future.

HRE: What are you doing to ensure the different generations at TD Bank are working well together?

Ganesan: There are certain overarching strategies we have in place. No. 1, we have a learning culture. We cater our learning plan to different strategies to ensure we’re bringing each generation along the journey of where we as a bank want to be in the future. As part of that, we’ve deployed learning paths to cater to all employees, and we ensure that, when it comes to upskilling our employees, we’re catering to every generation.

HRE: What sort of upskilling are you engaging in?

Ganesan: We need to upskill continuously because our customers’ needs are changing. There’s a tech transformation taking place in banking and many of our customers want and expect a digital experience. We’ve launched a banking app, for example, and we need to ensure our employees know how to use it themselves so they can help customers who may walk in who need some coaching on how to use it.

When it comes to upskilling, we’ve got a two-pronged approach: First, we focus on the general skills that all of our employees need, [including being] digitally savvy. Our employees also need foundational skills in analytics and they need to understand operational excellence. But there are some targeted skills in each of those segments, such as advanced analytics for employees for whom that’s a major part of their everyday job. So, we also have skills training that’s very focused on advanced analytics, for example, and on digital marketing, which is another area that’s very important for us.

HRE:  What about your training for managers?

Ganesan: We invest a lot in leadership training to ensure we’re minimizing the risk of unintentional bias. Our inclusive leadership training is required for all people leaders at TD Bank. It includes three modules: Leading Self, to ensure you can understand your own inclusive behaviors and expose your own personal biases; Leading Others, which includes understanding the impact of unconscious bias on others; and Leading TD, which is to ensure you’re creating an inclusive environment for everyone.

HRE: How do you ensure employees understand the importance of diversity and inclusion from their very first day?

Ganesan: We have an extensive learning curriculum as it relates to our employees, and it starts with onboarding, which includes a segment on D&I. We show them real-life scenarios on what it takes to create an inclusive workplace. We set expectations with new hires that there are other training modules on D&I that they’ll be required to take. We have mandatory training for all of our employees called D&I at TD, which has six scenario-based modules. It’s pretty extensive, and it delves into the aspects of how to be an effective employee, an effective team leader and an effective leader. We’ve also invested a lot in “respectful workplace” training, which covers how you create and maintain a work environment that’s free of any negative conduct, whether it’s discrimination or harassment, and how you respond to conduct you may encounter that’s not tolerable. It encompasses the channels available for reporting misconduct, including your people manager, confidential HR advice channels and an ethics hotline.

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HRE:  What else do you do to ensure employees “get it”?

Ganesan: I want to highlight that our obligation to an inclusive experience doesn’t just start when we hire someone. It starts with the first point of contact with a prospective employee. We’ve rolled out an interviewing-skills program for all our people leaders that has content built in on inclusive approaches to recruitment. It teaches our people leaders how to ensure an inclusive experience and how to understand any unconscious biases of their own that they need to be mindful of. This training was created in-house by our Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence in partnership with our learning department.

 HRE: How do you ensure that leaders at TD Bank support and prioritize D&I?

Ganesan: We have specific objectives around D&I in all our people leaders’ objectives to ensure they’re held accountable for it. Our employee engagement pulse survey also has an inclusion index, which has helped us spot any potential issues. Every people leader also has an inclusion index that’s associated with their leadership effectiveness.

We also ensure a couple of other things: one, that we have diverse candidate slates right at the time of hire. These checks and balances are in place to ensure—especially for executive roles—that there are diverse candidates in place before a decision is made. We do diversity checks in succession plans to ensure our talent pool continues to be diverse. We’ve also strengthened our training in mitigating unconscious bias. We do annual talent assessments of all of our key roles and people, and those outcomes are shared with our board of directors. Our board members have a direct line of sight into our management practices.

Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.